Sunday, December 5, 2010

What To Say When Your Kid Asks, "Is SANTA real?"

 When Abs said yesterday, "Mom, I need to know the truth,"  I thought that she was talking about the truth about what I really put in my meatloaf (vegetables!  HA!) , or some other little white lie that I tell to get through the day.

She was not.

Instead, Ab wanted to know the answer to THE holiday question of all questions.  The BIG ONE.  Virginia's question.

You know the one.

"Mom,  I need to know the truth about Santa," Ab said with a stern face.

I stopped wiping up the counter, looked up to meet her eyes, and then answered, "Are you sure you can handle the truth?  Are you ready?"  I was clearly channeling Jack Nickelson in A Few Good Men.

She held my gaze and replied, " I'm ready mom."

And the moment was here, before I knew it,  and I WAS NOT READY TO ANSWER.

So,  I took a deep breath, threw the dishrag in the sink, and pulled up a stool next to Ab, and this is what I said:

Ab,  you know that there was an actual man, St. Nicholas.  He was a good man that made and gave toys to children in his village to celebrate Jesus' birthday.  He placed the toys and treats in the children's stockings that they had hung by the fire to dry. By giving children gifts to celebrate Jesus' birth, St. Nick brought great joy to many families.

But, St.  Nick was just a man, like you or like me, and  eventually, he died.

The people in the town wanted to continue to feel that joy that St. Nick had brought to the village.  So, they continued in his tradition.  They gave gifts and placed them in stockings, just like he had done.  St. Nick's spirit was alive in those people as they continued to feel the joy in giving to celebrate Jesus being born.

So,  yes,  Ab, Santa or St. Nick was just a man.  

But,  is he still alive?  

My answer is yes, my girl.

Santa is ALIVE.  He is alive in each and every one of us when we honor Jesus' birth by giving to each other.  He is ALIVE when we gather as a family to decorate the tree.  He is ALIVE when we sing Christmas carols. He is alive when our family treks across the frozen tundra to chop down a Christmas tree.  

He is ALIVE when we think of others rather than ourselves.

SANTA is alive.

And, now that you know the secret, Santa is alive in you too.  

Abbie had been quiet the whole time, and when I paused,  I scanned her face to check her reaction.

"Well, what do you think baby?"  I finally asked.

A slow smile inched across her face, and she replied in a half-whisper, "Cool."

I laughed and grabbed both of her hands in mine,

"Yep.  It is pretty cool," I agreed.

We sat there holding hands for a moment, and then she broke our silence first and said,  "Can I help with the presents?"

"Sure.  You are part Santa now, so, yes, absolutely."

She smiled.  "And the elf on the shelf?  What about him?" she questioned.

"The job is yours if you want it, " I answered simply.  Then I teased, " . . .Santa."

Her hands flew up to her face and her eyes sparkled.  "I do!   I do!"

And off she went, to plan and to be Santa.

It is just one more reason that I can't wait for Christmas this year.


  1. Oh what a beautiful way to handle that! I will definitely have to make a mental note of this conversation. My son is seven and i can see he is caught between being skeptical and still wanting to believe. I don't *THINK* he will ask this year, but it could be coming next year.

  2. That response is amazing. I so hope I remember it when my kids ask the big question! Absolutely brilliant!

  3. Wow, you're good! That's an AWESOME way to break it easy...I'd say you were born ready for that :)

  4. You are an amazing mother. Wish I lived closer so I could see you all.

  5. I SO loved this post. It was awesome and I am totally going to learn from you here. :)

  6. Awesome AWESOME answer! And I will be stealing this for when my son inevitably asks! :)

  7. You are a genius! You didn't have to technically lie, your child is still happy, and you have help with wrapping!

  8. This was perfect! I can't help but to think back to us at that age...and in the most positive and complimentary way, that you are your mother's child - a wonderful, caring, enlightened mother that makes moments into special events. FAN-tastic job Annie!

  9. Mine was almost like that too. When my son asked me, I asked him, "Do you really want to know?" because he already knew in his head. So, we talked about it and how if he told any of his siblings he would be dead meat....I mean it would be ruining the magic of Christmas. He is excited to not be dead meat...I mean part Santa.

  10. Annie, that is so cool! I also have to say I LOVE reading that you call your Abby "Abs" and "Ab" just like we do. So cute. I love the name & the nicknames.

    I think what you told her is fantastic, and she really took off with it. YAY!

  11. That is a GORGEOUS response. One that I shall borrow when in a handful of years. ;) Well played.


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