Seeing so many individuals dressed as Santa inevitably brings up the question, “Is Santa real? And if Santa is real, which Santa is real?” No parent wants to lie to his or her child.
No parent wants to burst the magical bubble that makes the holiday season so precious either.
Many blog posts have asked the question, “Do you plan to explain Santa to your child? If so, will you tell the truth, or perpetuate the myth?” Comment after comment echoed the same thing, “I don’t want to lie, but I don’t want to perpetuate the myth, I have no idea what to say?”
Where do you stand? How do you explain Santa to your children?
What if you had a completely different way to explain who Santa is? An explanation that doesn’t lie or destroy the magic of the season? Would that be helpful? If so, then you’re in luck.
Several years ago I read a New York Times article that addressed the Santa question in a way that no other explanation has. I knew in my bones this was destined to become the classic answer. I contacted the writer, Martha Brockenbrough, and got permission to republish her letter to her daughter.
First, let me set the stage; Martha’s daughter figured out the truth about Santa, which “left her mother grappling with how to explain that belief.” She did it with this letter:
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 Christmas magic 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.
What I love most about this explanation is how it works to explain such a crucial part of life, how to believe in the unseen.
This letter also makes it possible for a parent to insert into the explanation whatever individual beliefs they have by focusing on love, which is a universal concept. The author of the letter to Lucy says, “Here, I am talking about love, that great power that will light your life from the inside out, even during its darkest, coldest moments.”
I’m an optimist. I believe that kids needs to know that everyone feels love, and everyone shares love, too.
Enjoy the season.
Now, go hug your kids!
Sharon Silver is the founder of Proactive Parenting, which can be found at www.proactiveparenting.net. She is the author of Stop Reacting and Start Responding: 108 Ways to Transform Behavior into Learning Moments. You can find her on Facebook @ Proactive Parenting Tips and on Twitter @ Sharon_Silver.