The Santa Dilemma

Welcome if you are visiting from the Hearts at Home Third Thursday Blog Hop.  This month’s topic One Perfect God got me thinking about the perfect Jesus and the jolly old elf Santa. Read on to see how the Santa dilemma went down at our house this year. 


“Mom is Santa real?” my curious six-year-old asked as I tucked him in and kissed his cheek.

‘Here we go,’ I thought. I took a deep breath and went the history route as I did with his older brothers. Speaking truth, but leaving a little to the imagination.

“Well Lewis, there was a guy who lived a long time ago. He was called Saint Nicholas, and he was a very kind man who gave gifts to the poor and who loved children very much. His kindness is how the story of Santa Claus began.”

“Oh. I didn’t think he was real. Tomorrow I’m going to tell Michael that Santa is really Saint Nicholas, but now Santa is dead.”

Not exactly the response I was anticipating.

It is entirely possible he is at school right now dashing the hopes and dreams of his classmates. My genuine apologies to anyone affected. Feel free to tell your kids that Lewis has been misinformed. I’m pretty sure your child will believe you over their six-year-old classmate with a mohawk.

I have no problem with families who play the Santa game. Who create elaborate schemes to keep their kids believing in the jolly fat guy for years. I can see the fun in it. I just can’t do it. When my son asks me point blank, I can’t look him in the eye and tell him this guy actually exists.

Maybe it’s because I’m so terrible at bluffing. (I would never win at poker.)

Maybe it’s because I know one day Lewis will know the truth and he will wonder how many other things his mom lied to him about.

Maybe it’s because I’m selfish and want to sign my own name in the from spot on the gift tag. I don’t want to give some imaginary guy credit for those gifts I bought  for Lewis to open on Christmas morning.

But mostly I want him to know that this holiday is not about a jolly fat elf. It’s about a Savior who came as a baby. Do I think parents can successfully teach kids the true meaning of Christmas and still let them believe in Santa? Of course I do. I have friends who have done it beautifully. But I can’t get the thought of Jesus and Santa playing tug-of-war in Lewis’ mind out of my head.

People may ba-humbug me. Or call me a party-pooper.  Or think I’m ruining my son’s childhood or any other number of things. That’s okay. I realize I am in the minority here.

But as the day of Christ’s birth comes closer, I am more convinced of my choice. The season is still filled with wonder. What’s more fascinating than a stable-born baby who came to save the world?

It makes me smile to look  at our nativity set on the hearth. My Santa disbeliever Lewis has full charge of that manger scene, complete with a broken sheep and a wise man with a cracked head.  And he chose to put Jesus in the center and position every other piece in a half-circle facing the baby. It’s not the most aesthetically pleasing way to arrange the display, but it is just as it should be.

Santa may be dead, but our perfect Savior is alive and well.

Though my Lewis will not be dreaming on Christmas Eve about the mythical guy who slips down the chimney and leaves shiny toys, he just might be falling asleep with visions of a tiny baby in a stable and angels singing to shepherds on a hillside. (Oh and somewhere in that dream sequence I’m sure he will be drooling over those brightly wrapped gifts mom and dad put under the tree.)

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6

I’d love to hear how your family handles Santa Claus. I welcome other opinions. I just ask that you be kind about the way you state them.


By KimHarms

Kim Harms is a freelance writer who lives in smalltown Iowa with her husband of 18 years and their three sons. She's a contributor at CT Women and has written for Guideposts, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Creation Illustrated and a variety of other publications. In 2016, Kim was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a bilateral mastectomy and breast reconstruction. This website chronicles her life after reconstruction and offers resources and encouragement to other women who are going through the reconstruction process.


  1. Love this, friend!

    First of all, I am ALL FOR children playing with the nativity set. Our Fontanini Mary has lost her head more than once and we’ve had trouble with Joseph’s staff.

    As for Santa, we never came up with elaborate schemes to create a belief in Santa, but let our kids simply absorb the fun of it. We did stockings (still do!), we labeled a few things from Santa, but it was all done with a *winkwink* and a *nudgenudge*. When asked directly, we told the truth. They were not surprised and they continued to enjoy pretending. It was like a fun little secret between all of us. They would open a gift “from” Santa and look at me with a giggle. It was all very adorable and fun.

    Definitely, the hard part was being around other children. Pretty sure my sister had to do damage control with her kids on more than one occasion. My kids were clueless about other kids actually believing in Santa. AWKWARD. *laugh*

    1. Thank you Cinnamon. I’m not exaggerating when I say that when I am in a parenting quandary I sometimes ask myself “What would Cinnamon do?” (Maybe I should make some bracelets WWCD) You know we love your kids. 🙂 I helped out at Lewis’ Christmas party with the mom of the boy Lewis planned to spill the beans to and she didn’t shun me, so I’m thinking Lewis may have taken my advice and kept his newfound knowledge to himself.

  2. Well said Kim. I wish my son had asked about Santa this year. Instead he refused to give up his list until I took drastic measures to drag it out of him. After reading your post I am even more ashamed of my actions. I’m hoping that next year he will simply ask and I can follow in your mature footsteps. If you want to read about my shameful actions check out my latest post…it’s a doozy!

    1. You should be horribly ashamed! Totally kidding 🙂 The benefit of your son’s belief is that you don’t have to worry about irate parents in his kindergarten class calling to to tell you that you ruined their child’s Christmas. I haven’t heard from anyone yet, so I think I’m in the clear. I’ll definitely check our your post.

  3. It all started with the Easter Bunny at our house, they asked and I couldn’t wait to share the truth, wondering why I played that game for so long. After that came the Santa questioned, my response was similar to yours Kim, but in the end I stated Santa is not a real person. I never feel like I’ve cheated my kids out of anything by sharing the truth, we still enjoy all the excitement of Christmas. We put all our presents under the tree a week before Christmas, shake them, dream of what they are and hope for our our favorite gift. I’ve prayed a lot this year about tying all that excitement together with Advent, and He has faithfully answered. The kids may not always like what I have to say, but they are hearing it and hopefully one day Advent, gifts, hope and salvation will all make sense.

  4. I love your comment. I agree with the excitement. The boys are all very excited. Of course a lot of that comes from knowing there are gifts for them under the tree, but when we talk Christmas stuff it’s all about Jesus and nothing about being good to make Santa happy. And I like that very much.

  5. Kim, I love your thoughts, I totally agree about always being honest…and keeping Christ at the center. This came across my computer and I thought it had some really neat points, although it is never mentions Christ, which is always so ironic about these CHRISTmas stories!

    Dear Lucy,

    Thank you for your letter. You asked a very good question: “Are you Santa?”

    I know you’ve wanted the answer to this question for a long time, and I’ve had to give it careful thought to know just what to say.

    The answer is no. I am not Santa. There is no one Santa.

    I am the person who fills your stockings with presents, though. I also choose and wrap the presents under the tree, the same way my mom did for me, and the same way her mom did for her. (And yes, Daddy helps, too.)

    I imagine you will someday do this for your children, and I know you will love seeing them run down the stairs on Christmas morning. You will love seeing them sit under the tree, their small faces lit with Christmas lights.

    This won’t make you Santa, though.

    Santa is bigger than any person, and his work has gone on longer than any of us have lived. What he does is simple, but it is powerful. He teaches children how to have belief in something they can’t see or touch.

    It’s a big job, and it’s an important one. Throughout your life, you will need this capacity to believe: in yourself, in your friends, in your talents and in your family. You’ll also need to believe in things you can’t measure or even hold in your hand. Here, I am talking about love, that great power that will light your life from the inside out, even during its darkest, coldest moments.

    Santa is a teacher, and I have been his student, and now you know the secret of how he gets down all those chimneys on Christmas Eve: he has help from all the people whose hearts he’s filled with joy.

    With full hearts, people like Daddy and me take our turns helping Santa do a job that would otherwise be impossible.

    So, no. I am not Santa. Santa is love and magic and hope and happiness. I’m on his team, and now you are, too.

    I love you and I always will.


  6. Sweet Kim~Thank you for your post~I am like you: not a Santa-hater (as many of my friends think), but absolutely truthful with them that Santa is not real… For us it is is important to teach our kids that we will always tell them the truth… even about Santa. What is really hard for me this year is that my kids feel jaded because Santa doesn’t come and it hurts because that is not the way it is supposed to be! In a backwards way, my children feel left out and slightly abandoned and my (almost) 8 year old boy will tell me that he chooses to believe despite my words because he thinks (well thought) that if he did, he would get more gifts. Sometimes I wonder, is this why parents do it? Is this why parents do the Santa thing because of the pressure more than anything else? I know it is fun and I do not feel like I am missing out on anything regarding that but I do get a little hot under the collar now that the Elf on the Shelf has come along and is even wandering into our classrooms! It’s hard enough to teach children truth for truth’s sake and it makes me wonder what other areas of our lives we are untruthful about simply because of the pressure to conform?

    1. I am sorry it has taken me so long to respond to your comment. It is hard that Santa, the elf on the shelf and all the other “stories” that go along with Christmas are so much fun! I wish I had a perfect answer for how to deal with your kids feeling left out. I haven’t experienced a whole lot of that though my six-year-old was maybe a little bummed. I hope your 8-year-old ended up having a great Christmas despite his frustration with the truth about Santa.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *