The Santa Deception

My oldest son is not quite three, and so doesn’t have that much of a concept of Christmas. However, that doesn’t stop the whole world and his wife asking him if he is excited about Father Christmas coming to our house this year.

Of course, they mean well, but Monkey really doesn’t understand. And to be honest, we don’t do the whole Father Christmas thing in our house. We talk about various worldwide traditions at Christmas, and of course the story of old St Nick.  We talk about the religious traditions surrounding Christmastime. But teaching him that a man in a red suit will sneak into our house in the middle of the night with gifts for him, but only if he is a ‘good boy’? Hmm, I don’t think so.

The Santa Deception

I can practically hear jaws dropping as I write this. Believe me, I am no grinch. I get just as excited as the children do when Christmas comes along. However, I don’t have any memory of believing in Father Christmas when I was little and you know what? Christmas was still a truly magical time. My mother and I still left mince pies and carrots (and a glass of milk, of course) out for Father Christmas and his reindeer, and it was no less exciting just because I knew that Father Christmas wasn’t real.

Another thing that worries me is how he would feel when he inevitably discovers that good old Father Chrimbletide is just a myth.  I don’t even want to think how embarrassing it would be for him to find out from, say,  an older child at school, and possibly be taunted for a long while. True, not all children get upset when they find out the truth, but a sensitive boy like mine absolutely would.  The well-laid plans of sitting him down to explain it when I feel he is old enough may well go awry if someone less understanding and kind beats me to it.

Father Christmas doesn’t have to be a real, tangible person in my child’s mind in order for Christmas to be magical and wonderful. Instead, we talk about the magic of Father Christmas and how the spirit of giving is alive in our hearts. And besides, who wants their children to grow up feeling like gifts are the purpose and goal of Christmastime? Who wants them to grow up feeling like they are only deserving of being a part of Christmas gift-giving if they are ‘good’?

I really can understand why people do choose to keep Father Christmas and I would never judge anybody for doing so.  For us, though, the whole Father Christmas thing just doesn’t sit right.  Unfortunately, Father Christmas has been taken and moulded by modern day society to be used as a tool to bribe children to behave better. When used in this manipulative way, he is a massive parenting cop-out and I want no part of it.


Image courtesy of Darren Hester @ flickr


  1. says

    I am in total agreeance. We don’t encourage the notion of an overweight man sneaking into little kids rooms at night as being a safe one to be anticipated. I mean seriously! How safe is it to be teaching your kids that strangers with gifts is ok??

    In our home Santa exists as the spirit of anonymous giving and anybody can be ‘santa’ (most years it’s me)

    Our eldest daughter is just 3 and a half and STILL has no perception of christmas yet. We’re teaching the true meaning of christmas for us through our crafts and I have no doubt that next december will be slightly more exciting to her.

    • says

      Ah, it’s nice to know I’m not alone in my thoughts on this! I’ve had quite a few funny looks from people I know when I’m upfront about it. Santa definitely isn’t necessary for an enjoyable christmas. Hell, I get ridiculously excited about it every year even though i’m 23 and most definitely don’t believe in Father Christmas ;)

  2. Sarah says

    We are the same in our family. We don’t perpetuate the Santa myth but I love, love Christmas! Most people look like you shot their dog when you tell them your kid doesn’t know about Santa. I just don’t see the point in lying to your children. We have a lovely Christmas without him.

    • says

      This is absolutely my point. I think the only lies that are acceptable to tell children are the ones that somehow protect them. The benefit of the lie has to outweigh the deceit. But there really is no benefit whatsoever of the father Christmas myth. like you say, Christmas is awesome without him :)

  3. says

    Now that we have a toddler that somewhat understand what is going on, Santa has become a hot topic for me. He loves ‘The Night Before Christmas’ so he certainly knows who Santa is and what he is all about it.

    I really like your point that you can still do the traditional Santa things like milk and cookies without making Santa a huge deal in your house.

    Great post and great reminder that Christmas is still awesome without focusing on Santa!

  4. says

    I am there with you a 110% My hubby and I have talked a great amount of what we want to do as far as Santa/Father Christmas goes. We have concluded that we will, 1 – not call him Santa, but call him Father Christmas as you do. 2 – Father Christmas will fill our Christmas stockings, but not do the whole huge gift giving thing. I am sure that as our children continue to grow (they are 2 and 1) that we will get more in the groove of what we really want to tell them.

    I know that as a young child I was terrified by the concept of Santa Clause. I told my parents that I did not want a strange man coming into my house in the middle of the night while we were sleeping. I asked my parents to tell Santa to please leave the presents on the porch and that they would bring them in for him.

    • says

      Wow, that’s really interesting that you were frightened of Santa. I don’t understand why more kids aren’t frightened of the concept of Santa.

      Don”t get me wrong, i’ve nothing against father christmas, i just dont feel he should be such a massive deal as he is. All everyone seems to care about is gifts at Christmas. I’ve purposefully bought very little for my boys this year as i want them to know that gift giving, although wonderful, is just one part of the whole sha-bang :)

  5. Chrissie Penna says

    I’m really sorry, but i’m not completly with you!! will it now not be your son crushing the dreams of children by innocently telling them santa is not real? i agree when used to bribe a child into being good it is shameful, but a massive part of the magic of christmas is santa.

    • says

      The way i see it is that there are plenty of children who are willing to tell other kids that santa isnt real. we will explain to Monkey that most children believe that he is real, and he will be mindful of that, but i am not willing to lie to my children to avoid the possibility that he might drop the bomb later on. Kids all find out eventually, be it from school friends (or bullies), older siblings or by overhearing adults. and i’m not willing to put my children into a situation where their dreams may be the ones that are crushed.

  6. Nikki says

    I just found this post, so my response isn’t timely, but I’m going to go ahead anyway.

    I love and believe in Santa. Not as a single man, but as a concept. Santa is Christmas Spirit. And I’m going to encourage my daughter to believe in him the same way. I want her to have that magic at a young age, I want her to have things to believe in, whether they’re real or not. I want her to use her imagination. I want her to hear the reindeer on the roof top, and as I did when I was four, I want her to hear the sleigh bells. She’ll enjoy presents, and I’ll have her believe that Santa brought them just for her, not because she’s been good or bad, but just because she’s special. We won’t go overboard, but I love exchanging gifts. For our family, that’s part of how we enjoy our holiday, by putting smiles on the faces of the ones we love.

    And of course she’ll find out at some point that perhaps there is no literal Santa Claus. When that day comes and she asks me if he’s real, I’ll have the same response my mother did… “what do you think?” And if she asks me what I think, I’ll tell her, yes, in my heart I DO believe. And I won’t be lying.

    Over the course of her life, she’ll find out a lot of things she believes in aren’t real. There will be much time in her life as she gets older for cynicism. Until then, we’re going to believe in the Easter Bunny, Santa, unicorns, fairies, princesses, magical castles, and dreams.

  7. says

    Why this appeared on my Twitter feed in July of 2013 I have no idea, but I too agree with the idea of the spirit of giving, spirit of Santa, and teaching about all the different religious and cultural practices that happen at the end and beginning of a year. (In our household, for example, I am Jewish by heritage, new-age/pagan by beliefs, hubby is non-religious and Japanese, we live in Hawaii….so there are easily about 4 different traditions going on, a Christmas tree, a menorah, celebrating Yule, and visiting a Shinto shrine in the New Year.)

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