The whole Santa thing this Christmas was just plain weird for me. (Did I talk about this here? It seems like I did, but I don’t think I did. Or maybe I did.) We’ve had many discussions and debates with our friends about whether or not to do Santa Claus, and Chris and I, along with most of our friends, have always been pretty pro-Santa.

My reasoning was because a) the magical feeling of believing in Santa as a kid was just so much fun for me, and b) I didn’t really think that kids confused Santa with reality, God, etc.

However, actually carrying out the sham just felt WEIRD. Especially when my kid wasn’t even all that interested in Santa or even wanted him to come to her house.

The thing was, it really didn’t feel any different than lying to her would feel. And that was weird.

But I still never worried about her confusing the whole thing….until this week.

Ali had a Picture Bible in the backseat. She was giving a running commentary to herself about the characters in it. Then I heard this:

“This is God. He’s kinda like Santa, but he’s God.”

My breath caught in my throat. Did she really just say that??

They were right.

She equates God and Santa.

Right before I was about to blow the whole thing and tell her that Santa was pretend and NOTHING like God, I looked back at the picture she was looking at, and realized that Ali wasn’t thinking nearly as deeply as I had given her credit for:


It was a man with a white beard and red and white outfit.

And, poor thing, it wasn’t even God, it was Noah.

Note to self: “kinda like” may mean “kinda LOOKS like” in toddler speak.

But I still feel weird.

Did anyone else find it more awkward than they thought it would be to do the whole Santa thing?

33 thoughts on “Santa, Noah, and God.

  1. I think it has something to do with being old(er)and slightly jaded. It's hard to recapture the innocence that goes along with wanting to believe.

    The way I look at it is they're going to find out soon enough that the world isn't always a shiny, happy place. I want them to enjoy the "magic" as long as possible. It's worth the weirdness for me…

  2. Well my parents never did the Santa thing, we always knew that the presents came from family. We knew who St. Nick was but the whole north pole, elves thing was never told to us as truth, just stories.

    I think I turned out okay and still had the magical feeling at Christmas that all my friends had. To me it is still kind of like lying to the kids because how do you explain it when they are older.

    But I also think it is a personal decision between the parents. I don't think any less of anyone who does the whole santa illusion.

  3. My sister, who is a "born-again Christian", does not allow her children to believe in Santa, the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny, and they aren't allowed to do Halloween.

    If someone had said "what do you want from santa?" my neice would say with a serious/shocked face "santa isn't REAL!". If you asked what she was for halloween, she would say "Halloween is from the devil". Since she isn't my kid, I just sigh. She gets no joy out of normal kid things and I personally don't find it healthy.

    I don't know the answer to your question because I don't have kids yet. I can tell you that I never got mad at my parents for "lying" to me though. And that I see my niece becoming mad at anyone who disagrees with what she was taught. Just my 2 cents

  4. Our six year old son found out this year that Santa isn't real but was confused by the fact that I kept acting like he is. We bought a book called Santa, Are You Real? that helped me explain to him where the idea of Santa comes from and how we can all be Santa to someone.

    Our son also has imaginary friends so I don't feel bad about making up stories about Santa for him to enjoy. He's learning the difference between real and pretend.

    Also, a wise friend told me that Santa visited their house every year but he only filled the stockings because she wanted the credit for all of the big stuff under the tree. I think that is pretty clever and that's what we do now.

  5. That's a tough one, Rachel, and definitely has to end up being a personal decision…

    But we just don't make a big deal about it. Schyler asked me once if I believed in Santa and I told her it didn't really matter what others believe, but what she believes. She said she didn't really think so and I just smiled and said okay.

    And if someone asks "what did you get from Santa" or "what do you want Santa to bring" she still answers (she was 6 last month BTW).
    We just don't drill it in her head – "Santa's coming" "Santa's watching" etc., etc.

    I'm pretty sure as long as kids get presents they don't care who they come from!! LOL

  6. I don't have kids yet but my husband and I diagree on this. He thinks that kids will be confused about us lying to them and perhaps question the reality of God if Santa is imaginary.
    I think it's fun for kids and I don't know of anyone who thought that there was no God when they found out about Santa.
    I have no idea what we are going to do when we have kids but I don't like the idea of lying to my child about the truth. Let us know what you decide. I will be very interested since I haven't made up my mind yet.

  7. We don't do the whole Santa thing, and the only reason for it is that I really think Christmas and Easter should focus on Jesus and His birth and death/resurrection. But, having said that, I agree with Leanna. I don't look down on anyone who does Santa.

    Also, I agree with Katye. You have to be clear with your children that just because their friends believe in Santa does not make their friends evil people. I really had to teach Maddie not to be judgmental about that and actually tell her not to burst her friend's bubbles about Santa. But, she learned it pretty easily.

    Chris asked if he could pretend Santa was real, and I said sure. They pretend about everything else, why not Santa? But, he knows, I think, that he is pretending. But, it is fun for him to pretend.

    Just my two cents. :)

  8. First off let me say that I love your blog and I am a lurker! :) This topic is something I have struggled with though!

    We started out doing the whole Santa thing, then we came under conviction about it. We now tell the story of St. Nicholas and focus on Christ at Christmas. Santa is just a character that is modeled after St. Nicholas!

    I know many argue that they believed in Santa as a child and they don't question if God is real. Since we have come uder conviction about it I often think about the message of our society today. In my opinion there are way too many messages out there trying to make God seem like no big deal. As someone who takes the Bible literally – I do not want to give my children any reason to ever possibly question who God is because of my own actions (this is in anything – not just Santa!).

    As I said – this is MY convictions – I do not feel the need to act on the Holy Spirit's behalf in other people's lives. These types of situations are very personal. I believe there is reason we were convicted of this, and we have to raise our children the way God would have us to! You would be amazed at the things that have been said to us because of our decision!!

  9. I meant to add – that I would never look down on others for doing the whole Santa thing and I don't allow my children too either!!! We don't do Halloween either and I have explained to them our reasons – but I won't allow them to look down on others or be judgmental! That's just not right!

  10. We really struggled with this, this year, but in the end we decided that we just couldn't lie to K when we are trying so hard to teach her about truth, trust, and honesty. It seemed like an oxymoron. We did teach her about St. Nicholas, whose whole life was about God.

    Another reason we didn't do it is b/c it was such a traumatic experience for me. I can still remember exactly where I was sitting in our old house when my mom confirmed that he wasn't real. I was seven years old and it was devastating. T says he never really bought it, even when he was really little. He could tell his parents were lying.

    I don't know what we are going to do next year b/c we will be spending Christmas with K's cousins who are full out Santa believers. I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

    We plan to make Santa, the reindeer, elves, and all that more of a game when she gets old enough to understand.

  11. I think there is a balance with it all. We don't not believe in Santa, but we don't make a big deal about him either. In other words, we still go see Santa and watch him on the fire truck on Christmas eve and talk about him, but they don't get presents specifically from Santa Claus. And they don't seem to notice or care…

  12. I love all of this discussion so far!! But it totally reinforces why I'm so unsure on the whole thing – because I agree with all of you!

    Yes, Santa is fun – yes, it brings lots of magic.

    No – I certainly don't want to steal fun away my Ali's childhood (Kayte – that's a really good reality check of how those sorts of things can come across when kids re-state them. That IS sad.)

    Yes – I want Christmas to be about Jesus first and foremost.

    No – I don't think that she will be mad when she finds out Santa isn't real – I certainly wasn't (This is the Day – you're the first person I've ever heard that has said that they were traumatized when they found out Santa wasn't real! That's so sad…do you know why you were?)

    I like the idea of "pretending" about Santa – acknowledging that he's pretend, but still pretending.

    I'm glad I have another whole year before this really comes up again, because I have a lot to think about!

    Keep sharing – you are all deepening my viewpoint on the whole issue SO much!

  13. My 4 yr old thinks Santa is God's special helper who brings us presents to celebrate Jesus' birthday. We didn't quite know how to present the idea of Santa to her, so she's formed that on her own from little conversations and such. We have a nice ornament for the tree that shows Santa kneeling in prayer before the manger.

  14. Unfortunately, I have nothing new to add that hasn't already been said:

    -We don't do the santa thing, but have many friends and family that do. I think everyone has to come to their own decision about it, and shouldn't look down or think negatively about others who don't do what they do.

    -We place a high, high value on truthfulness from our kids and we feel that as parents, we must be truthful as well. Our kids know about Santa (it's hard to escape that here – santa is everywhere, even in July!) but they know that it's just a pretend story. I feel totally fine with that.

    -I agree with the commenter who said that society is always trying to minimize God in any way possible, and that sometimes the Santa issue can become a distraction. When I was a kid (I think I might have said this already in one of my christmas posts) I just wanted to get the church stuff overwith so I could open my presents.

    – I love that Ali's comments were way less theologically grounded than you thought! I was cracking up!

    I think that looking deeply at the issue with an open heart is a great way to start – and we can trust that He will guide you and Chris to a choice that is right and God-honoring for your family, regardless of if it's the same or different as other people.

    (I too, have enjoyed reading other people's thoughts about the issue – great discussion starter!)

  15. I like the middle ground. We tell our kids that santa is a story just like cinderella or snow white and it's okay to talk about santa and tell stories about santa but we never claim that he's real because he isn't. Which in our case, the real/not real thing is a good thing because our kids are always questioning if their movies are real or not, and it keeps a few nightmares away when they know things aren't real (at least I think so, because we have never had problems with it, even after watching semi-scary kids movies). LOL.

  16. Hhmm. Interesting stuff. We didn't worry about it too much this year since Eli and Tessa were still too young to understand all this, but I have been thinking about what we'll do going forward. J.C. pretty much thinks the way you do (or did) and thinks we should do it. I see both sides and am completely torn. Amen to being thankful for having a whole year to decide before this comes up again (or really nine months before all the Christmasization starts…).

  17. I have no children, yet. However, I am an Aunt.

    Growing up, my sister and I always knew that Santa wasn't real. (We knew any presents from "Santa" were actually from Mom and Dad.) I see no point in lying to the kiddos to create the illusion that Santa usually brings. I don't say that to be "ba hum bug", but keeping Christ at the center of Christmas is the goal. If the kids know Santa isn't actually real, but understands the true meaning behind Christmas, then sure, why not throw in a little "magic" here and there.

    Ultimately, it's the parents decision. No matter what you decide there will be arguments for and against it. Though, it does make for an interesting debate.

    Hope I didn't step on anyone's toes. It was not my intention. Merry CHRISTmas!

  18. Rachel,

    We never did stress the "Santa" thing…we didn't tell the kids that Santa brought the presents but we didn't tell them who did it either. We never asked them what they wanted Santa to bring them, etc. But they did wake up to gifts on Christmas morning that didn't have tags on them saying who they were from. Then, on their own, they decided to put out cookies for Santa. We never said one way or the other if he was real. We let them lead out. We made sure that we never lied to them. We promised ourselves if they asked directly, we would answer honestly. But they never did. However, when they started asking questions, they had an uncle who told them if they didn't believe, they wouldn't get any presents! That stopped them from asking anymore questions for awhile (even though I think they knew it was mom and dad anyway).

    As they grew, and our credibility came into question, we were able to honestly say to them "we have never lied to you." When they threw up to us about Santa, we could say "no, we never told you it was Santa, nor did we ever tell you to believe in him, etc." They had to concede because they knew we had been honest and we were not going to lie to them now. When asked why we didn't just come out and tell them all those presents were from us, we were then able to tell them that it was just fun to surprise them.

    I know Giann faithfully reads your posts and I don't know if she will read this comment but it would be interesting to know what she thinks – did we warp her because of the way we did or did not "do" Santa?


  19. I guess I always felt like there were too components to Christmas and we dealt with them separately. It didn't bother me, I don't think, except for the obvious overshadowing of commercialism.

  20. Jonathan and I have talked about this many times. I was raised believing in Santa. He was not. He's said how he felt like he missed out not doing the Santa thing. I don't wanna have to go through "tricking" our child. We don't know. I think we are leaning towards doing Santa, but explaining from the start that he's like the fairy tale characters and super heroes: just made up for fun. We have a while to decide.

  21. What a thought provoking post, it was very interesting reading everyone's comments!

    When Luke first started seeing pictures of santa this year, he kept calling him noah…that's funny that Ali did too!

    We grew up believing in santa, and it really made Christmas magical for me, I remember every Christmas Eve night as we were driving home to Atlanta I would stare into the night sky hoping to see a glimpse of santa and his reindeer. Obviously Santa was a big deal to me, but I think santa way overshadowed the celebration of Jesus' birth. I always knew that Christ was the real reason for Christmas, but as I look back we didn't really focus on His birth during Christmas (except for at church), it was more about seeing family, baking, eating, and presents.

    I was initially really excited about "doing" santa with Luke and couldn't wait to pick out the perfect gifts for santa to bring to the kids. But the closer it got to Christmas and the more we saw, read about, and heard about santa, I started to get the feeling that Luke was going to think that santa & presents were the focus of Christmas.

    Luke doesn't still quite understand the whole santa thing, but even so I still had a weird feeling about the whole thing (just like you said).
    First of all, nothing about introducing santa to Luke seemed "magical" (I actually felt kinda guilty, like I was lying) and secondly, I felt like if we keep doing Christmas like this then he's going to be just like I was growing up, not truly celebrating Christ at Christmas.
    So, I had all these weird emotions about Santa that I never expected to have, and actually haven't even mentioned them to Ryan yet. I was going to try to figure out exactly what I thought about the whole thing and then discuss it with Ryan when it gets closer to Christmas.

    Reading all your comments made me realize how many people don't "do" santa, and for reasons that make perfect sense to me.
    I think I have a lot of thinking and praying to do before next Christmas! :)

  22. Well, I'm coming at this from a totally different angle. I'm atheist, so I struggled with lying to my kids about Santa. I originally was not going to do Santa, but my mother talked me into it. Same reason, magic of the season, etc.

    Then I realized I wanted to give my kids a bit of that feeling. The same way they imagine fairies being real & playing princess, etc.

    I felt the same way you did though, like I was lying. It has been such a relief when my oldest discovered it. Now I'm just waiting on my youngest. I do find it a bit fun though, the magic of it all.

    After my mom convinced me of doing the Santa thing, later she did tell a story of finding out about Santa. She went to a strict Catholic school in New York. She was taught that she was chosen by god to be a warrior, etc. When she discovered Santa, she said her world came crashing down. She doubted her parents, religion & the world. I was like thanks mom for talking me into doing that to MY kids. She is of course very dramatic, but that was when she did start to doubt god.

    What I have done though ~ Santa only brings a couple presents. I like another commenter mentioned, wanted the credit for the big presents. I worked hard for those, lol. Plus I wanted an option to explain things if money was tight one year & not the next. Santa always brings a couple presents & stockings. Then the difference depends on mommy & daddy. I also tended to kind of answer questions like Mrs. Jennifer commented on.

    I do have to wonder though for religious people. Why worry about it? If you believe in God, then why worry if your children would question him after finding out about Santa?

    Teach them what you believe, but you might want to consider teaching them what others believe as well. That way they can make an educated decision on what to believe or not to believe. I myself, was raised Catholic. It was a journey for me to come to my realizations. For my kids, I try to give them an idea of what all faiths believe in.

    As of now, they tend to agree with me. My youngest though, does not believe in God, but believes whole heartily in Angels. I'm trying to let her go down her own path.

  23. Debra – That is really impressive that y'all managed to do Santa without ever having to lie – it nearly seems impossible!! But I like it.

    Ginny – Great perspective – thanks so much for sharing. I would have totally been mad at my Mom too if she'd told me that story after trying to convince me to do Santa – ha!!

    As far as to answer your question about why Christians worry about their children following their beliefs, the easiest way to explain why I think this is true is by using logic, rather than my beliefs:

    You're an atheist. If you're right BUT your children decide to believe in God or any other deity, according to your beliefs it won't matter in the long run, because there is no God – the only damage done is that they may spend part of their lives pursuing something that isn't the truth, but when they die, nothing happens differently, because there is no God.

    However, I'm a Christian. If I'm right and my children decide NOT to believe in God, according to my beliefs, it very much matters – they won't be in heaven with me when they die. So inherently within my beliefs it is important that my children also believe.

    Hope all that makes sense, but it's pretty late in my time zone, so if not, let me know! :)

  24. yes, and I'm not very good at secrets, so I found myself mentally going "oops" a lot. Plus, you figure out really quick that EVERYONE has different little quirks about Santa (does he wrap the presents, etc.) and EVERY picture of Santa is different, so in no time, the kids are asking questions that force you to either lie or shatter their creativity. . .Add to that the tooth fairy and Easter Bunny (which I never believed in, but hubs did) and you better make sure all the key players are in on YOUR story and can stick to it. . .

  25. and then I read everyone else's and they're way more "deep" than mine. . .lol. I meant "shatter their dreams" or something not creativity. Monday is so NOT working for me. . . : )

  26. I was also torn about Santa. You and I share some sweet friends (Mimi and Pawpaw) who raised their children knowing that Santa was not real but also that other children believed Santa was real and knew they should not ruin the fun for the other children. I kind of thought that might be a good idea.
    However, my sweet husband completely disagreed. He wanted Jack to have the magic and wonder of Santa.
    I actually don't ever really remember believing in Santa Claus. I don't know if Santa is not a big deal in Korea or they just handle things differently or what but my mom never really pretended Santa was real although we took pictures with Santa every year and we got presents from Santa. So there was no crushing realization for me.
    Hubby wasn't shocked or disillusioned by the "truth" of Santa Claus either.
    I read a very interesting take on someone's blog this year. It was that person's version of a letter from Jesus to Christians who struggled with the Christmas tree (which was originally a pagan celebration symbol or something or other) and Santa and the like. In the letter, "Jesus" said that we should not worry about those things and reminded us all that December 25 is not actually his birthday and it was not terribly important to him that we celebrate his birth on that day but that it was more important to know that he was born and that he came to save us from our sins and that he wanted us to remember that everyday. It was something like that anyway.
    Anyhow, that made me feel much better about the whole thing. I mean I had no qualms about getting Jack an Easter basket from the "Easter bunny". He carries around a basketball that we call Irish and "Irish" is Jack's friend and we treat "Irish" somewhat like a person but when it came down to it and Irish got run over I explained to Jack that Irish was not a person and we replaced "Irish" with a new "Irish" and all is well. He wasn't crushed and he still loves "Irish" (the new one). I'm hoping Santa will be the same way.
    All of that said though, we don't do the whole Santa is watching you you better be good because Santa won't bring you anything route. Santa's is not an obedience figure he's just a fun guy.
    So I'm tired and that got very long winded and kind of rambly but I hope it made sense.
    Great post and I am oh so glad that you noted why Ali said what she did because it made me pause too when I read it. :)

  27. We don't do Santa, but we pretend. Sounds weird, now that I see it in type. I was brought up believing in Santa, and I still remember how hurt I was when my younger brother told me that it wasn't true and that my parents had been lying to me. It was an awful moment, in part because he was the one who told me. Our relationship was…contentious. I was 9 and he was 7. Interestingly, my sister told me just this year that she also took it very hard when she found out. She's 6 years younger than me, so I don't know exactly what the trauma was for her.

    We decided not to do Santa because it seemed like we were lying. How could we expect our kids to believe that God and Jesus are real if we suddenly announced that Santa wasn't?

    As others have said this is a completely personal choice. We love the Santa movies and stories, etc. and enjoy them as much as anyone else. If we happen to get a chance to do the whole visit Santa/take a pic thing that's fine. But we don't make a huge effort and the kids seem fine with it. And every now and then I ask, "you know Santa is just pretend, right?" They nod and say, "Yea Mom, I know."

    We have been scrupulously careful to remind the boys EVERY year to never never never ever EVER ruin another child's belief in Santa. To my knowledge, they've honored that. The younger boys are 7, so we've got a few more years of reminders before I feel safe that they won't blow it for someone.

    You gotta do what's right for you. If you can have some fun and play along the way, then more power to you. Good luck!

  28. We don't plan to do the Santa thing. I was not raised with tales of Santa, but Christmas remained a magical time of love, family, and surprises. Add to that one too many horror stories from our friends about learning that Santa was a myth, and we determined that we would tell our son about Santa, but share that it is a story, not a fact. We'll see how that works out for us!

  29. Wow Rachel, you were right. This truly did inspire a wonderful comments conversation. I am impressed.

    And a little dismayed because all I've got is "Yes, I do feel a little weird about the Santa/God thing."

    See? I'm a rookie.

  30. I'm late commenting on this, but after reading some of the comments it seems that there are alot of people like me. We don't tell our kids Santa is real, but we pretend. The presents they get are from us, not Santa. They saw Santa at the McWane Center and they know the story of St. Nicholas and such. We put more of a focus on Christ's birth. I tell them not to tell other kids it's pretend because some do believe he's real. I think they get it, well Rayna anyway. Xander still said he was asking Santa for a firetruck lol

  31. This is a very late comment, but every time I read one of your posts I have to read the ones you’ve linked because they’re hilarious.
    So I resonate with this story because apparently when I was little, I did just the opposite. I saw Santa at the mall, turned to my mother and said, “Look! It’s Noah!”
    So I think Ali is on to something here.

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