Subject: Please don't murder Santa just because you're an ex-Mormon.
Date: Oct 27 21:24 2003
Author: Cheryl

I'm a true believer. I've seen Santa enrich kids' lives every year of my teaching kindergarten and first grade which included more than 30 Christmases and 1000 children.

Don't tell kids Santa pays them off for being good. That's destructive. Don't make up excuses to keep their belief at a young, pre-school level once they're ready to move on.

Most children are ready to give up Santa as a personal friend not long after they give up their special blanket. That's usually by at least the end of first and occasionally second grade.

Third grade is the age when kids are ready for real and serious studies of myths and customs in cultures around the world. That's the best time to help them see Santa as one of our American customs.

Do tell them Santa loves and gives to them unconditionally.

Children need play and fantasy. That's the basis of their normal growth and development. They can deal with scary and dangerous concepts in the safety of their playroom and within their imaginations. This is how they prepare for each new developmental event. Children who have been deprived of play and fantasy often grow up with unhealthy gaps in their personalities.

I think Mormon pioneers clung too fanatically to dogmatic Mormon fantasy to make up for childhoods lacking in natural play and imagination.

When children are ready, they give up toys and imaginary friends. Don't try to force them to believe in Santa if they out grow the need for him. I tell children I do believe in Santa because his warmth and value are very real in my heart and in the eyes of children. When my kids told me they knew I gave them the presents, I agreed and praised their judgment. I also added though, that I'll always believe in the spirit of Santa.

Little children love pretending because it's a natural and needed part of childhood. When you pretend to eat from a play saucer or drink from a toy teacup, you are not lying. Neither is pretending with your children at Christmastime a lie.

And while we're on the subject, dressing up for Halloween is also not a lie.

My own kids are grown. I think they are better adults because of knowing Santa as young children. I don't believe in Mormonism, but I still do believe in the true spirit of Santa.

Subject: I have very mixed feelings about this
Date: Oct 27 22:02
Author: Sandyslc

I can understand your views Cheryl... I know it's really great to see the excitement swell in children around the holidays, their eyes get bright... they feel there is some wonderful "person" out there watching them and caring about them...

You said:

>>"Do tell them Santa loves and gives to them unconditionally."

But the truth is... some kids get nothing for Christmas... because there really is no Santa and some parent/parents just cannot scrape up the extra dough. The child that gets told Santa loves and gives to everybody will wonder what is so wrong with them that even Santa would hate them.


Subject: My ex and I
Date: Oct 27 23:12
Author: Mad

decided today that Santa wont be a part of Christmas with our son. WE will teach him who Santa is and other Christmas traditions, but we wont teach him some imaginary guy is going to bring him presents just like we wont teach him we are celebrating the birthday of some guy named Jesus. His presents will be from family and friends.

Time to redefine some thins I guess.

Thanks for everyone's insight.

Subject: Noooooo!
Date: Oct 28 00:03
Author: jolimont
Mail Address:

He's going to tell other kids! Allright, I'm selfish about this, but my kiddo isn't ready to figure it out yet, and your kiddo is too young to not speak honestly, which is really a great thing, but don't you think it'll spoil it for his friends? I think Santa is such a great story, and it's so handy that it replaces all the Jesus stories. I'm all for the elves and the reindeer and all that mythology.

Subject: Christmas can be beautiful
Date: Oct 28 09:04
Author: Sandyslc
with or without Santa. I think that's good Mad...

Jolimont, I hear you on not wanting kids that don't believe tell your little sweetie that there is no Santa... but she will believe if she wants to badly enough. She will tell little boys like Mad's cute as a bug son that he's wrong and she's right.

Funny story... my little sister did not raise her daughter to believe in Santa (see below post where Santa didn't show). Her girl went along fine not believing... then one day decided to believe. I really agree with AZgirl... kids can be told the truth, yet still choose to have fun with believing for awhile.

Kids are amazing.


Subject: I taught very poor inner city kids who lived on hope in Santa.
Date: Oct 27 23:14
Author: Cheryl

We always saw that they weren't disappointed.

There are causes like "Toys for Tots," and we also turned names into a local department store which gave a big party with Santa for the most needy children. The teachers and school employees adopted whichever families weren't covered by other programs. Those children loved Santa much more than the affluent children I had taught in previous years.

Subject: Cheryl, you were being Santa...
Date: Oct 28 08:59
Author: Sandyslc

I think that's great. I can well see why these needy children believed more and got more joy out of a belief in Santa... it's because they needed more. I'm so glad all of these kids had you in their life to step in where they might otherwise have experienced an empty Christmas.

Unfortunately you and people like you cannot be everywhere during the holidays. There are families where it's their little secret that there will be no Christmas money. Not everybody reaches out for help in order to fill the space beneath the tree.

Here goes another Sandy sob story... there was a Christmas where Santa didn't show up at our house. Our family put on the appearance of "everything's okay"... it's not like anybody would have gotten a clue and contacted sub for Santa... or toys for tots or any of those programs (maybe they weren't even available back then, I don't know).

I was a little bit older and though disappointed, that was nothing compared to how badly I felt for my younger sibs.

Saying again... to have Santa forget you... especially with the way others, (even if parents don't do this) promote the "if you're good, Santa will bring you gifts"... is a devastating blow to a kid. It doesn't matter that in the future they'll find out there is no Santa. In that moment... their self worth has been defined in no small way.

There are a lot of things in our society that people take for granted... that just do not apply in some kid's lives. But truth always applies...


Subject: Re: Cheryl, you were being Santa...
Date: Oct 28 11:57
Author: Switz1
Mail Address:

Well, Sandy it is sad what happened to you. Here is what we did with our kids. We told them that Santa BRINGS toys but Mom and Dad have to pay for them since Santa can't furnish stuff for EVERYONE. That made perfect sense to them. So when they were asking for something we couldn't afford we told them that Santa probably would not bring it. Of course sometimes we were lying through our teeth and the kids WOULD find it under the tree Christmas morning. THAT WAS FUN!! Most of the gifts under the tree were not from Santa though.

Also in our house when I was growing up only one or two things were from SANTA everything else was labeled. I don't know of anyone where all of the gifts are from Santa.

The worst Christmas I ever had was the one when I was in 4th grade. I knew that my Grandma S. was going to take me to Cheyenne Frontier Days and Yellowstone the following summer and I wanted a pair of cowboy boots in the worst way.
I opened a present from my other Grandma and in the box was ONE BOOT! I was crushed. This grandma and I didn't get along very well and I thought she was just being mean. This woman wrote the book on MEAN! I looked for another box about the same size and there wasn't one. But later in the present unwrapping I found my other boot. IT was from my Aunt! They had gone together for my boots. I would have been disappointed greatly if I hadn't gotten them at all but finding one boot just tore me to pieces... I had trouble keeping back the tears and my mouth shut. Glad I did though.

Subject: Good Gawd Switz
Date: Oct 28 12:44
Author: mikemgc

What a beautiful solution! I like that a lot.

I can see both sides of this...the kids in poverty and the magical fun that can enrich a little child's life. Your technique bridges that gap. Good post :)

Subject: Cheryl did say NOT to use Santa as a reward
Date: Oct 28 00:19
Author: jolimont
Mail Address:

and I know what she means. I got mad the other day and said Santa wouldn't bring her desired present. I've never seen such sad sobs out of my darling. So I cuddled her up and let it drop, then a couple of days later she asked me if Santa gives a second chance and I said yes, she relaxed and got happy again. I feel bad I held that over her head. So it really shouldn't be a vengeful Santa, but rather an all-loving Santa.

Subject: I was honest with my kids, but let them know Xmas is still fun
Date: Oct 28 00:21
Author: AZgirl

I told all four of my children that Santa isn't real. But I told them that it is so much fun to pretend he is and that the spirit of giving is very real. So even my 8 year old talks about Santa and what he will bring her this year etc. She knows he isn't real, but still has a lot of fun pretending he is. They all like to take turns "being Santa" for others, too. The concept of pretending isn't lost on the kids....they CAN know the truth and still have fun.

Subject: No Santa at our house
Date: Oct 28 07:51
Author: TokyoPlayer

I was the 4th child, and my parents had told my older siblings there was no Santa, so I never believed in it, even when I was 3 or so.

I don't see that I any better off for having been told the truth, especially with something as harmless as Santa.

Now, if they had only kept Santa and dropped JS. . .

Subject: Can you have it both ways?
Date: Oct 28 10:14
Author: samuel beckett

If you sit around a tea-table with a four year old, you can sip a bit of imaginary tea, and there's certainly no harm in it. And no adult would dream of saying "Little Cindy, I want you to know that there isn't really any tea in these cups."

Of course, little Cindy already knows that there is no tea in the cups. But at the same time, she knows that there is tea in the cups.

Imaginary tea.

My own kids were only 17 days old last Christmas, so we didn't have to worry much about how to handle the concept of Santa Claus, and we probably won't really have to deal with it for another year, but I'm curious. Why not acknowledge that Santa Claus is pretend, but just keep on pretending?

Kids don't have to taste the tea to enjoy the tea party.

Subject: Difference in tea parties and Santa
Date: Oct 28 11:19
Author: AZgirl

The problem is that some kids really DO believe that there REALLY is a Santa. I TOTALLY did. I think I may have been 7 or 8 by the time I realized he was NOT real. I would look out the window every Christmas Eve trying SO hard to see him. I totally thought he was real. And it was such a bummer to find out the truth after really believing it...kind of like when I found out JS was a fraud.

When you play tea party, the child can obviously SEE there is no REAL tea. The imaginative tea is a given. But when you tell your kid "Santa is real" for years they really believe it until they are old enough to start thinking it doesn't make sense.

Subject: Re: Difference in tea parties and Santa
Date: Oct 28 12:03
Author: Switz1
Mail Address:

AZgirl wrote:
> The problem is that some kids really DO believe that there REALLY is a Santa. I TOTALLY did. I think I may have been 7 or 8 by the time I realized he was NOT real. I would look out the window every Christmas Eve trying SO hard to see him. I totally thought he was real. And it was such a bummer to find out the truth after really believing it...kinda like when I found out JS was a fraud.


> When you play tea party, the child can obviously SEE there is no REAL tea. The imaginative tea is a given. But when you tell your kid "Santa is real" for years they really believe it until they are old enough to start thinking it doesn't make sense.

You mean you NEVER heard the sleigh bells? You must not have been listening hard enough... I am sure I did one year. LOL! My kids used to leave a plate of cookies and a glass of milk out for Santa along with an apple for the reindeer. I used to eat those cookies and drink that milk and then take a bite out of the apple and throw the rest of it out in the yard for the kids to find. They really had fun with that.

At Easter time I used to leave a trail of Raisenets which actually look like rabbit poop. They loved eating "Rabbit poop"!!!

Most kids know for years that it is all a myth but a fun myth and just don't mention it. You guys aren't giving your kids enough credit for having good imaginations.

Don't be so damn literal! Let them have some fun and enjoyment.

Subject: The fact is they DO often taste the tea, even when adults can't.
Date: Oct 28 10:35
Author: Cheryl
Mail Address:

Real and make-believe run together in children's minds. Their imaginary friends are there for them. On one level and in the brightness of noon, they can sometimes realize it's their imagination working. Other times, they're sure those images are as real as you are.

Lucky children don't have to hide their pretending from stodgy, upright, non-believing parents. They have the freedom to work through these normal childhood experiences with the love and support of their parents. That's a good thing.

What is bad is forcing them to pretend they believe in golden plates and magic crumbs of sacrament bread that they can't relate to except to satisfy their parents' fanaticism.

Let children be who they are and grow out of it naturally is all I ask. No need to keep the total control of kids' mind and imagination from TBM times once you leave.

Subject: I disagree with you on this one, Cheryl.
Date: Oct 28 10:47
Author: KathyWUT

You don't have to lie to children in order to let them enjoy a good imagination. You can just be honest about things being imaginary. Why lie to them for years when you can be honest?

I know you're stuck in a hard place, because as a teacher you know that most of the parents tell their children that Santa is real. HOWEVER, some of your students don't believe it, so do you ask if everyone in the class believes in Santa? What about children who are Muslim or Jewish or JW or atheist? (not that Santa is a Christian thing, but it is, sort of) Do you just ignore the fact that some don't believe the Santa stuff?

Subject: Re: I disagree with you on this one, Cheryl.
Date: Oct 28 12:07
Author: Switz1
Mail Address:

Kathy, I know MANY Jews whose children get a visit from Santa. They even have a Christmas tree. They celebrate it along with Chanukah and have a blast with it. There might be a "Santa like" tradition among the Muslims too. Most societies do.

Subject: Students where I taught enjoyed everyone's myths as much as their own.
Date: Oct 28 15:06
Author: Cheryl

We had a menorah and played the dreidel game. The Jewish kids needed to know how others celebrate the season and enjoyed it as much as Christians. I'm an atheist who thinks there is value in cultural customs without the religious dogma. We enjoyed the customs of people from India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan as well.

It was funny that JW parents didn't seem to mind any holiday activities except the ones that originated from early paganism which led to Christianity. JWs tend to be rather dour in my opinion. I think it even did those kids good to have a clue about the mainstream world. That is where they have to get along someday to be productive citizens even if they never choose to participate in celebrations.

Subject: Re: The fact is they DO often taste the tea, even when adults can't.
Date: Oct 28 12:05
Author: Switz1

My imaginary friend was "Old Sweet Junior"! I don't know where he came from, how he got his name or when he left but when I had him he was VERY REAL. One time I left him on the city bus and begged my cousin to go get him. She did of course. :-)

Subject: My two daughters never believed Santa was real
Date: Oct 28 10:37
Author: KathyWUT

I never wanted to lie to my daughters, so I never told them Santa was real. I told them that other people tell their children that he is real and that other children's parents would get angry if we told their children the truth, so it would just be our little secret.

We still did the Christmas and Santa thing, just like we did the Easter bunny and tooth fairy thing. My daughters always knew it was make-believe and when they were young they really enjoyed it. One asked us once how Santa would get in the house since we didn't have a chimney. I reminded her that Santa was make-believe, so he could magically make us a make-believe chimney just long enough for him to come down it and leave again. The best thing was, there was never a time when they discovered I'd been lying to them for years. When their cousins and friends found out, my daughters were able to say, "Yeah, I knew it was make-believe."

Now they are healthy young adults and they have never reproached me for the way I handled it. In fact, they plan to do the same if they have children.

Subject: Re: Please don't murder Santa just because you're an ex-Mormon.
Date: Oct 28 11:46
Author: Switz1

Cheryl, you are 10,000% and more correct!! I Still like to believe in Santa. I never told any of my kids he wasn't real. They came to whatever conclusion they came to on their own. Santa is a "feeling"; Santa teaches the goodness of giving of yourselves, Santa teaches brotherhood and many many other things.

Subject: You can be honest and at the same time...
Date: Oct 28 12:07
Author: an honest mom
Mail Address:

...make things fun and interesting. Make part of it an inspiring history lesson. Tell them about the kind Saint Nicholas who helped people hundreds of years ago. Show them books with pictures of other cultures' versions of the Santa legend.

The Santa that adds to our holiday celebrations doesn't need to be an actual, physical person that lands on the roofs of good boys and girls. Nor does he have to represent "Christian" values. He can be a legendary character representing the spirit of generosity and giving.

I've used this approach with my children and the 8 year-old takes it for what it is, a lovely story, an interesting character with something to teach us. His 5 year-old sister would rather take the legends more seriously and listens for the reindeer on the roof, imagines elves making her toys, etc, though she knows that's not literally happening. She knows the cup is empty, but chooses to taste the tea ;)

I found this story and it seems to present a good compromise, though I would probably add more of an explanation as to the mystical nature of Santa:

As adults, we dream too. I imagine winning millions of dollars and buying things for my family and for those less fortunate. I imagine flying around town just a few feet off the ground to make shopping easier. I put myself into the novels I read or the movies I watch. But nobody, no beloved authority figure, is telling me those things are really happening, or that if I'm good and eat all my vegetables maybe someday I'll really be able to fly. That's where the disappointment comes for kids. Finding out that we've lied about the nature of their dreams, which should've just been dreams.

And for the record, I sometimes imagine the elves in their toyshop, too :)

Subject: Wonderful post, an honest mom!
Date: Oct 28 12:31
Author: Sobriquet

I think you've said it best; however, I see exactly where Cheryl's coming from. Kids love fantasy and playacting, and I think it's a necessary part of their development. It helps make life joyful, too, IMO.

My kids are all grown up now, but when they were little, we pretended like Santa was real, and I don't think it hurt them one little bit. It was fun for them and for us.

When they were ready to quit believing, they let us know. We never heard a "How could you LIE to me like that!" out of any of them.

Subject: Thank you :)
Date: Oct 28 13:24
Author: an honest mom

I'm glad your methods worked well for your family :)

As for myself, I remember very distinctly being around 7 or 8 and thinking of some the untruths my parents had told, and being very disappointed. It wasn't so much that the tooth fairy wasn't real, it was that they had tried so hard to enforce that she was, even after I knew the truth. Words like "children who don't believe in Santa Claus don't get any presents" forced ME to lie for fear I wouldn't get a new teddy bear that year. I felt like I couldn't trust them, and unfortunately that feeling has persisted.

Even now, after feeling this way for so long, I'd never go up to my mother and say "How could you LIE to me like that!". I just don't visit much. I won't have her urging my children to lie to get presents. Sure, I could talk to her about it, and I have mentioned it in passing, but it's very uncomfortable and I stink at confrontation. Also once people get used to dealing with kids a certain way, it's hard to change 'em.

Subject: We never tried to push...
Date: Oct 28 13:44
Author: Sobriquet

belief on our kids. In fact, our kids probably knew the truth about Santa, et al., way before their peers did because as soon as they started asking things like, "Is Santa real?" I couldn't lie to them. I didn't want the fun to be spoiled either, so I'd tell them about the real Saint Nicholas and how "believing" in Santa Claus helps keep the spirit of the real Saint Nicholas alive.

When I think about it, I don't think any of my kids believed in the Tooth Fairy because by the time they started losing their baby teeth, they were too old and too smart to buy that story. It's been a really long time, but I don't think they bought the Easter Bunny story either because we didn't make much of a deal out of Easter in our home.

Subject: When I tell people that being atheist is the same as not believing in Santa...
Date: Oct 28 13:19
Author: Brian B.

I think people relate well to this, despite how angry they may become.

Personally, I think we live in very fantasy-oriented times where people imagine that human values are delivered by the economy as a materialist function, and not the other way around (i.e., the economy functioning as a result of human values). This misguided thinking, placing the cart before the horse, personal economy before values, shrewdly equates happiness with a personal euphoric mood, and not a state of existence. This is how people can pretend to be happy by merely thinking they as not as miserable as someone in the gutter, while others might rightly think that they can't be truly happy with people suffering around them (which implies that all others are wanting to exploit them or degrade them--a rat race).

Note: Human values are not guarded by accident and human dignity is never preserved by default. They cease to exist when they can be bought and sold, because they were based on the value of freedom.

Subject: I suggest parents accept and support kids where they are.
Date: Oct 28 15:22
Author: Cheryl
Mail Address:

If kids seem to want to believe in an imaginary friend, including Santa, know that he is feeding a need in them and celebrate the fact.

All children are different and their needs are ever changing. It's usually better to know your child and accept his/her needs and level of development than to try to inculcate him/her with yours. So don't choose the one true slant on Santa and expect every child at whatever age to go along with that one truth, particularly when it's truth from an adult point of view.

Children learn about reality through play. They find truth in fairytales. There are versions the same tales speaking to children in every culture throughout the world and through recorded history. Children who can't work through their needs for pretending when they are young often try to fill that those unmet needs in adulthood through religious and other addictions.


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