The Truth About Santa

The Truth About Santa – November 2013

Christmas is in the air. We can see it and feel it everywhere. Decorations are up, Santa is at the mall, coffee shops are serving gingerbread and eggnog lattes and the gift shopping has started.

Even though I don’t celebrate Christmas in the traditional sense, being an Ismaili Muslim, I really do enjoy the season. People are happier, catchy carols are playing everywhere and there is a wonderful feeling all around.

The Truth About Santa

The Truth About Santa

Growing up, my parents were always honest with me. They told me that  we don’t celebrate Christmas in our religion and that Santa wasn’t real. We had at special event that we celebrated on December 13 and my parents would give us each one present. I don’t ever remember believing in Santa and my husband’s family was the same way.

So I wasn’t really worried about how I would explain things when I had my own kids because it seemed so easy for me. Up until now, it’s been smooth sailing. The kids were so young so they didn’t really ask too many questions about about why we didn’t have a tree or give them lots of gifts or why Santa didn’t visit our house. And if they did ask, we just told them that Santa didn’t come to our house because we don’t celebrate Christmas.

The reason I never told them that Santa isn’t real is because I didn’t want them to accidentally tell another child and ruin Christmas for that child and have their parents get upset. But for the last little while, I’ve really been questioning if that’s the right decision. Is it right that I’m lying to my child to protect all the other children? Can I live with the fact that I’m telling untruths to my child who I promised never to lie to no matter what?

Now that Keyan is four and in pre-school, he is talking to me about Christmas more and more.

“Why doesn’t Santa come to our house?”

“We’re having a Christmas concert at school and Santa’s going to come and give me a present there.”

“Where does Santa go after he leaves the mall?”

“Can we go look out the window to see if he can see Santa flying home?”

“How does Santa go to all the kids’ houses in one day.”

The Truth About Santa
Keyan’s 1st preschool Christmas concert let to all the new questions about Santa.

My go-to answer of “we don’t celebrate Christmas” isn’t cutting it anymore. And I just can’t make myself tell him the stories about how the Santa at the mall is just a helper because the real Santa is so busy in the North Pole, or that Santa knows magic and can stop time. So what should I do?

At the start of the school year, when the topic of Santa came up with one of Keyan’s preschool teachers, she said it was so great that I did that because so many other parents wouldn’t and it ruins it for the majority of the kids who do celebrate.

So is that who I’m going to be? The mom who’s lying to her own child to keep so many other children happy? Or am I going to be the mom who tells her child the truth like she promised even though it may be at a cost?

It’s a really tough decision. Or is it?  Am I just making a big deal out of something that we will laugh about when the kids are older, just like every other child out there when they find out that Santa isn’t real?

 The Truth About Santa Update – November 2017

After writing this post, I did decide to tell my kids the truth about Santa. Yes they were young at the time, 4 and 2 but for me, it didn’t feel right to lie to them so much. I always say to my kids, I will NEVER lie to you and so it just didn’t feel right for me.

We talked about it and they said they understood. Then next day when my 4-year old went back to preschool, he only whispered what he had learned to his teacher. Since then, unto present day, neither of them has breathed a word to any friends or kids they meet that they know, Santa isn’t real. Even when they have events where Santa is actually around, they still keep the secret!

The Truth About Santa

(Since Kyah was younger when I told them both, it took a little more work with talking to her about understanding the idea and not telling other kids. By the time she hit preschool the following year, she was all good.)

Once in a while I do give them a reminder and so far so good.

Now we all really enjoy the holiday season. In 2013, after telling them the truth about Santa, we decided to have a holiday tree each year. It’s so much fun putting it up and decorating it as a family and it is something they always look forward to.

The Truth About Santa

We also love doing holiday crafts and we always make a homemade ornament every year.

So in the end, the decision to tell the kids The Truth About Santa was the right one for me and my family. Of course every family and every child is different.

29 thoughts on “The Truth About Santa

  1. It’s hard Salma because you don’t want to ruin it for other kids but you want to be truthful to yours. You said your mom told you guys when you were little, so how did you not go and tell the rest of your friends? You can also explain to your kids that this is what you believe and that other kids believe something different. Not sure, it’s hard.


    1. I asked my mom about that Agi and she said she did tell us the truth and somehow we just never questioned it or told any other kids. It’s definitely a tough one.

  2. I was raised Christian (as I am raising my children) and my parents never did the Santa thing. We did put up a tree and exchanged gifts, but they always told us Santa wasn’t real, but not to ruin the other children’s fun. Now I do the same with my children. I tell them some parents tell their kids about Santa because it’s a fun tradition for them. I let them know it is not their place to tell other kids Santa isn’t real. No reason to ruin their fun!

      1. Hi Salma, I am the grandmother of a 7 year old boy. My son, his father, was raised Jewish to please my parents. His wife is not and celebrates Xmas. They make a big deal out of both Hanuka and Xmas. I am spiritual with no religion (if any it is Eastern philosophy) and don’t believe in lying to kids. This Santa thing is a tough call. A few weeks ago when the subject of not being “naughty” came up I said to my grandson, “Don’t believe everything you hear about Santa, especially in songs.” His parents were in the car with us. If they were angry with me, they said nothing.

        When you asked about telling your son and if he would understand about not telling other kids. I think asking him not to tell is just perpetuating the lie. The good news here is that he is 4. At that age they ask a lot of questions. Most times all they want is an answer and then they are on to another topic. Asking questions is the mind’s auto-response learning habit. The answers really don’t matter, You might just tell him your truth about Santa and leave it at that.

        I make decisions about whether or not to say things to people that may upset them. In many instances I tell myself that if I have a need to speak my truth and it is not something they want to hear, how they react is not my responsibility. My responsibility is to be true to myself. I say this because if you feel it is your responsibility to be true to your child, that’s where you can determine your answer, not in how other people will handle it.

        Well I can see this subject must have touched a nerve in me. 🙂 Sorry I rambled on for so long.

        1. Thank you for your response Rochelle, it is definitely a topic that can be touchy. And I do feel a responsibility to be true to my child and that should be the most important thing.

  3. This is a tough subject. We did such a ‘good job’ of having our daughter believe in Santa, that we ultimately came to a point where we had to tell her something different in order to prevent a great deal of discomfort for her at school. She (but also she was 2 years younger than her classmates) still believed in Santa when she entered Junior High school. We had a conversation with her about the ‘spirit of Santa Claus’ and how we were all Santa’s helpers. I don’t remember exactly what we said, but that was the gist of it. She really wanted to be a Santa’s helper and it all went pretty well. Good luck with your dilemma. This is a tough call.

  4. Yup, that’s a tough one for sure! I’m a Sikh, yet we celebrate Christmas with the tree, presents, Santa and all!! Maybe your response could be along the lines of, “in our family, we don’t celebrate Christmas, and we don’t believe in Santa. And if you don’t believe in him, he doesn’t come to your house. But there are many children and families that do believe in Santa, so we should let them continue believing in him, and we’ll just celebrate our own holidays in our own special way”… as for Santa in the mall… maybe just say he’s one of Santa’s helpers that listen and watch children, but the real Santa from the North Pole only comes to those children who’s families believe in him. Just a suggestion.

  5. This is a hard topic! My children (ages 5, 10, & 14) still believe in Santa. I haven’t told my 14 year old the truth yet because of the fear of her telling her younger sisters. But this year will be our year of confession with our 14 year old.

    Why didn’t my children know the truth from the beginning? I don’t know. I grew up believing and I guess I continued this with my children. But at times I feel like a liar. This is a hard topic for me too.

    1. It’s the lying part that really bothers me too Cherie especially because I’ve always told him that I will tell him the truth. Maybe that’s my decision right there.

  6. That’s what really bugs me about everything. We are lying to our children and we are teaching them that it’s ok to Lie in certain circumstances and really we shouldn’t. We’re Jehovah’s Witnesses and we have taught our our children the truth about everything from day one but have always wanted them not to feel different for what they believe and so have always told them to respect others and not too ever look down or be disrespectful about what others believe.
    I’ve never understood why other cultures and religions just go along with what everyone else’s is doing. I think in life you need to stand up for what you believe in and that doesn’t mean standing on your soap box and preaching to everyone but if you don’t believe in something then don’t just go along with what everyone else is doing.

    1. I respect that you’re so passionate about this Scott. And you’re right I don’t want to be lying to my son and I guess that’s why I’m so conflicted. But maybe the answer is right in front of me that I’ve been ignoring.

  7. I find it humorous that religious people get so passionate about this. So the concern is the ” belief” of Santa, guess what, all religions are a belief system. So in actuality you are lying to your children when you force your religion and belief on them. I don’t think in the history of mankind that any child held ill will to their parents when they found out Santa is not real, or the tooth fairy . Why deny the joy, wonder and happiness associated with Santa for children. The real world has some hard lessons and realities and in time children will be exposed to them, let them be kids, full of wonder, imagination and innocence . Have you seen kids light up with joy with the thought of Santa ? Why would you deny a child that? We should encourage their imagination.

    1. I agree that we shouldn’t force things on kids. And you’re probably right Tom, that it’s just me making a bigger deal out it in my mind than it really is.

  8. What my parents did, and I’m doing to my kids is, when they ask those types of questions, just turn it around on them.

    Them: “Dad, is santa real”
    Me: “What do you think son?”


    Them: “Dad, where does Santa go after Christmas”
    Me: “Where do you think he would go?”

    When they finally get really direct and demand an answer, that is when it is time to tell them the truth.

    My kids (8 & 9) just got confirmation that Santa isn’t real, though I think they suspected last year. I told them that he wasn’t, and he was based on St. Nick and all that. Then told them that it was important not to tell other kids, because that is their parents job to do when they want.

    It worked out well for me, and my kids seem fine.

    I don’t look at it as lying, but just telling a story. I don’t start every kids book I read them with, “This isn’t real, it is just a story.” and that’s not lying, so why would this be?

    Either way, difficult to know what to do. Good luck!


    1. It is a definitely a difficult situation. I guess as parents, we eventually find the best way to deal with it with our children. Thanks for your comment.

  9. Well, if you tell kids there is no Santa Claus, then you better tell them there is no Easter Bunny, too!

    You can’t tell one lie and hold the other back. 🙂

    As far as your son telling other children… he may and then again he may not, but if he does – the child he tells will definitely go home and ask his/her parents if what your son said is true.

    LET THEM deal with their children as they see fit, but if this were my son, I would be honest with him.

  10. We don’t celebrate Christmas in our house either. We never really spent a lot of time explaining or discussing Santa Claus; we just explained that he didn’t stop at our house. I think that, by now, the truth is starting to dawn on our little guy (who at 7 isn’t so little any more!), so we may just grow out of this conundrum. Good luck with your kids!

  11. This is a really tough call, Salma! We never celebrated Christmas growing up either except we used it as an excuse to have a family dinner (usually bhiryani lol). And when we had our first child we thought we wouldn’t celebrate it and instead made a really big deal out of Navroz (and still do). But when she was in Kindergarten, we literally on a whim decided to put up a tree and do the Santa thing because she was so enchanted by what she heard at school that we wanted to just go with it. So this is our third year with a tree.
    We make it a point to tell our kids that Christmas is about Prophet Jesus’s birthday, and we don’t actually perpetuate the Santa thing. We just take their lead like they’re teaching us about him, rather than we are telling them.
    I think what we will do when we see our kids starting to not believe anymore is we’ll tell them that Santa represents one form of the spirit of giving. Some people say St. Nick was real once upon a time, but now he’s just a really beautiful idea of magic and giving.
    And if they are at an age where their classmates might still believe in Santa, then we’ll just ask them not to say anything or their friends’ feelings could get hurt. Then cross our fingers and hope for the best?! Right now when they ask questions I can’t answer about him, I just say “I don’t really know everything there is to know about Santa.”
    Don’t know if that helps – and sorry this was a mini-essay!

  12. I have told you before that I grew up in a Children’s Home and we were very lucky that the city and the service clubs had Christmas parties for us and Santa was always there. I don’t remember asking anyone any questions about him until I was 8 or 9 when I saw one Santa taking off his “beard” and hat with his hair that came off with the hat! I had my two little sisters and the other kids in the home and never said anything that I knew Santa was just a man, or in our case, many nice men that took the time to make children happy. And we had the same man dressed as Santa every Christmas Day just after lunch to give us our presents that were under the tree in the dining room, and he brought a sack with at least one gift for all 65 kids. When I had my own children, I carried on except Santa only brought one gift for each of the girls and their stockings were filled by him as well. It was their hard working parents gave them the rest of the gifts. I don’t remember them asking too many questions and when the oldest told me she knew Santa was just a guy or a bunch of guys, I did ask her not to tell her younger sister or other children because that was a parent’s job. You are a great Mom and the questions your son is asking and the answers you give are good. He won’t end up on the Shrink’s couch and neither will you.

    1. Just putting a little more because I read a lot of posts that parents feel we are lying to our children. We read them books that are nursery stories that have been told down the ages. Are they lies? No they are just stories and when and if they ask about Santa you can just tell them it is a story that lots of folks love to hear and that it is the other children’s parents to talk to them about the “truth” about Santa and elves and the North Pole. And my understanding the Santa I grew up with and my children and now my grandchildren have and are growing up goes all over the world treating all children the same. And that is also the reason Santa only brought each of my children one gift each year because if he left them tons of presents some other child might not get one present. Again, they are in the mid 40’s and don’t hold any of it against their father and I. Peace On Earth whatever you believe is my wish for all of you.

  13. I don’t think letting your child believe in Santa is lying. Otherwise, telling them any story and letting them believe it is lying. Childhood is about imagination, and believing in stories is part of it. I think it’s more about the wonder and excitement for them, and I want my son to believe as long as he can. It’s a part of childhood that I want him to look back on fondly. I don’t know any person who was angry at their parents for letting them believe in Santa.

  14. Thanks for your post salma. Mo and I were unsure what to do about Christmas with the lil one this year as we both knew at a very young age that there was no santa. We’ve decided that were are going to have our own little holiday traditions and always be honest about Santa with our son. Even though he’s too little to understand anything just yet, when he does have questions we will be honest and keep our fingers crossed that he doesn’t ruin it for other children. I don’t see it as lying or not allowing him to use his imagination, I’d just like to paint a different picture. Not everyone needs to believe in the same thing. It’s a wonderful time of year and I see no reason why we cannot indulge in a general holiday spirit. I love the idea of a holiday tree and and diy ornaments.
    We’re thinking of doing a holiday movie with coco and cookies on the 24th and presents over pancakes on the 25th. Yay!

  15. I find these comments very interesting. I am a mother of three boys now 12 9 and 8 months. I never really lied to my children about Santa I left it to their imagination. I was brought up Christian with the belief in Santa and my parents never told me there wasn’t I just kind of grew out of it on my own probably around 11 or 12. And I just continued to pretend because it made the holiday season fun. Now when my oldest questions Santa and his existence I simply say” if you don’t believe you don’t receive” and I give him a wink. So he knows that if he continues and doesn’t ruin it for his brother “Santa” will put a gift under the tree. I don’t generally believe in line to my kids but if their imagination runs wild and produces a little spark in their eye then I feel it’s harmless. I remember when I was little it always made things magical to think someone snuck in and gave us gifts and filled are stocking. And as an adult now I enjoy doing that for my children. My oldest sister had four children and told them by the time they were in grade 1 that Santa was not real she however did not tell them not to tell others and I think it caused some conflict of months the cousins from time to time but they are all great kids so I really don’t think it matters in the long run. It’s all about how you want to spend your holiday. To me Santa is about the spirit of Christmas giving more than a man in a red suit, But I do appreciate the fact that you and your children are considerate of others beliefs as it is important for others to be taught the same towards yours.

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