I Might Just Ruin Christmas

All three of my boys still Believe. I’m glad they do. I love the magical feeling of Christmas and I want my kids to remain faithful little boys who easily accept what their parents tell them.

This year, however, I’m having a hard time with the man in the red suit and I kind of want to just get it out there for my kids to know the truth. You see, we’re really struggling financially. More than we have in, well, ever. It’s 10 days from Christmas and we haven’t even started shopping for gifts because we just don’t have the means to do so. I have some wonderful friends who have stepped in and offered presents that we can give the boys. We can say they are from us or from Santa or whatever we like. These friends are saving Christmas. Sure, I’d like a present or two under the tree, and sure, I’d love to get Ches something really great (I have lots of ideas!!), but when it comes down to it, I just want my kids to enjoy Christmas morning. You don’t need a lot to make them happy. But something under the tree would be nice.

I have one friend who bought us a really big gift. I mean, it’s a lot. It starts with a W and rhymes with “mii”. 😉 I am so overcome with emotion about this gift, I can’t even describe my gratitude. We are putting it under the tree from Santa. But I kind of want my friend to get the glory and appreciation. He and his wife and kids are sacrificing for us. Why? Because they want to. Because he knows what it’s like to have slim pickings on Christmas day. Because he and his wife are just wonderful, kind people. I want my kids to write HIM a thank you note. I don’t think a mythical man should get all the appreciation for this. I’m about ready to just tell my kids the truth so when they open presents they will know that it’s people sacrificing for them and giving to them. I’m so undecided about it, however.

Aiden is about ready to know. Some kids at school know and have told him that “it’s just your parents slapping a tag on something THEY bought that says FROM SANTA. There’s no Santa!” So yeah, Aiden is starting to ask questions. He started last year, but I was able to put it off with a “what do you think?” and let him draw his own conclusions.

As Aiden was telling us what his playground friends had said over breakfast, Dallin pipes up with, “My teacher said there’s no Santa and it’s really just your parents.” Now, Aiden is 8 years old and in third grade. I’m not too surprised this is coming up. But Dallin is just 5 and in kindergarten. And his teacher told him this?? I was starting to get upset. So I asked him exactly what teacher said this and exactly what did the teacher say. He said the teacher said it was really parents buying gifts, but then the teacher said, “Just kidding!” so he knows it’s really Santa. It was his “new” teachers, from Primary (Sunday School). I’m pretty upset. They have kids his age. How would they like it if someone took it upon themselves to relate that kind of news and then say, “Just kidding!” to a five year old? Dallin doesn’t know what to believe right now! He’s so confused!! How dare they do that? It’s MY job to decide when to tell my kids.

Parker is just four. He is just learning about gift giving. I absolutely don’t want to ruin Santa for him. That and he just isn’t at an age where he would understand to not tell his friends what he learned, anyway.

That’s the problem with this whole Santa thing. When do kids get to know the truth? And how do you keep them from spoiling it for others? And how do you keep the truth from spoiling that magical feeling of Christmas, even for a little bit?

Parenting is hard.


6 responses to “I Might Just Ruin Christmas

  1. This is such a hard decision because there is no one right way to do it. If it was up to my husband, there would be no Santa, or if there was, the kids would know from the start that he wasn’t real. I don’t like that – I love Santa! I love being Santa! I love the magic of it!

    Santa does come to our house, but he is definitely not pushed by us. We just let him happen. It’s still fun and magical, but he’s kept within the bounds we feel are appropriate for our family. As Acadia started to ask questions, I did like you, turned it back on her with “What do you think?” Sometimes I would also say that Santa is “magic pretend”, which is what my mom told me for a few years while I was in that inbetween stage – old enough to suspect, but still young enough to believe.

    I think this is only a decision that you can make. But if I were to add my two cents… I doubt your generous friends have given gifts because they want the credit, I bet they, like you, just want your family to experience the magic of Christmas. This is what Christmas is about! Not what you get (including credit for what you do), but the wonderful feelings you have when you give and see how it blesses others. Your kids can still write thank you notes, even if to “Santa” and you can pass them along to who you know deserves the credit.

    If you decide to tell Aiden (who is about the age Cadi was when we told her) this year, but not the other boys, I would suggest telling him in a way that helps him to see how special and wonderful this is. Tell him that you are letting him in on a special part of Christmas. (I’ve heard some families call it “the circle of trust”.) Tell him that he gets to be a part of that now and invite him to help! I bet he’ll love that! My daughter LOVES helping with her younger sister’s stocking! Then tell him that he can’t tell anyone – not even his friends because some of them may not know yet. That’s how he can help keep the magic alive for others.

    If it were me, I’d let the younger ones believe a little longer. It’s magical! I remember that feeling, and even though I still feel the magic on this end of Santa, I wouldn’t want to take it away from a child prematurely. There’s just something about seeing that joy and wonder in a child’s eyes, knowing that they don’t understand what just happened.

    That being said, it is your decision. You can find ways for your kids to experience the magic of Christmas without believing in Santa. Santa is not what is important this time of year, anyway. Like I said before, it’s a hard decision. Pray about it, discuss it with Ches, and make the choice that feels most right. No matter what you decide, you can do it in a way that will keep the true spirit of Christmas in your family and home. 🙂

  2. I agree with Sariah in Vancouver up there. Let Aiden in on it. Let him know where the gift really came from, and encourage him to write a thank-you note from himself and his brothers. Let the other two still believe for a while. Vicki knows about Santa, but the other two don’t (although I suspect Lexi might and she’s just playing along. I’m not sure she’ll ever actually ask.) Vicki knows, but she also knows not to spoil it for anyone else. And she loves being in on that grown-up secret. This year she’s played along amazingly. It’s been really fun to share this with her, to share the winks and smiles, and to have that grown-up bond.

    And, like Sariah said, your friends really likely just wanted to give, and to be able to participate in that part of Christmas. They’re not likely looking for credit. Having the Aiden write a thank-you note would be good for him, but not necessary for your friends. I doubt they’d be hurt or bothered if he didn’t.

    Also, while Aiden is old enough to understand what it truly means that times are tough financially, the other two probably wouldn’t really get it. If Dallin is anything like my 5-year-old, he barely has a grasp on the concept of money. So letting him know where the gift came from and why may kind of go over his head.

    However, this is just my advice, and of course you have to do what you think is best for your family. But you asked!

    Good luck 🙂

  3. Your post – and the responses – made me really tear up. While we aren’t too bad off this year, we are still a far cry from where we were three years ago. We are getting Etta one gift (that will be from Santa) and a pair of pj’s for Christmas Eve. And Mae is only getting pj’s.

    But we are spending more on others. Well, not more, just differently. For one of Bob’s sister’s kids we did a World Vision gift of two chickens. And 5 ducks for our pastor’s family. One other thing is that our newspaper, with a couple of local women, get gift lists from senior citizens and publishes it in the paper. Etta and I went to K-Mart the other night and got presents for “Betty”. I tried to explain what we were doing and why we were doing it. At 2 1/2 I don’t think that Etta really “gets” it. But it’s a start. Today she helped me wrap them. “These are for our friend Betty” is what she kept saying. Yep! Then we will “deliver” them to the newspaper tonight. Because, “Sometimes Santa needs help”.

    We aren’t going to play Santa up too big with either of our kids I think. But there will be a Santa for as long as I can get away with it. I remember in 2nd grade when I found out. And when my little bro finally found out. I think that it just happens sometimes. Neither of us were crushed and we didn’t hate our parents for “lying” to us. We just became part of Santa. That is magical too.

    I don’t envy your position with this. Let me know how it works out…

  4. I didn’t read the comments. I told my 9 year old last year out right. I was tired of the questions…he knew, just needed confirmation. Then I went to bed and cried. My 7, 4 and 2 year olds still believe and that is all right iwth me.

    Santa only brings ONE gift for each of our children each year. Us as parents might give the boys one or MAYBE two depending on how we are financially. It’s always been like this. My kids understand that Santa brings gifts to children IN NEED (but goes to everyone’s house) and because they have so many people in their lives that would like to give them a special gift, Santa doesn’t need to bring so many gifts to our house. They are FINE with it, never been a problem (my mom HATES that I do this). I like getting the credit for the gifts personally. “Thank you mom and dad for making Christmas so special” is the best thing I’ve ever heard on Christmas day.

    I could tell you what I would do and I will 😉 …let the kids believe. This world is harsh enough. I’ve not known one person who needed therapy over finding out Santa was made up. Whether you make the Wii from Santa or not, they will have a FABULOUS Christmas. That one is up to you.

    As parents we do the best we can. And you and Ches are GREAT parents. It will all work out!


  5. My kids (Including my 10 year old) still believe. I am happy to let them believe as long as they want. it was ruined for my husband at 4 years old by his older brother… which always felt unfair to him. We are keeping the magic alive as long as the kids want it alive. When they ask, we will tell, but I don’t feel like I need to have a huge talk about it with her…

  6. We have had a ‘Secret Santa’ several times in the past. We’ve just told our kids that it was just that, a secret santa. They could always write thank you notes to their secret santa for the special gift and then you could give them to your friend. I’m struggling with the whole thing this year too, for many reasons. I hope it all works out for you!

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