Santa Claus, as we now know him, does not exist. There! I said it. The man, Sinter Niklaas (the Dutch pronunciation of Saint Nicholas) was real. He provided small toys and candy for the little children in his village. Eventually, we all know, his story became legend and we now pronounce it Santa Claus.
As parents, I think we all struggle with the dilemma of how long we let our children believe in fables before we destroy their innocence and shatter their trust. In the end (or sometime before that) we all realize that having our children believe in something that is not true is not really healthy for them. Over the last two days my seven year old daughter and I have been having the conversation. Before you jump to the conclusion that I am a mean father, know that she asked me and, combined with other things going on in her mind right now, it seemed time.
The conversation (abridged) went something like this: “Daddy, are you Santa Claus?”
“No, why do you ask?” said I.
She: “I don’t know.”
I: “Do you think Santa Claus is real?”
“No. Yes…. no.”
“Who puts the presents under the tree?”
“Did someone at school tell you Santa isn’t real?”
“Yes, they said Santa was their dad.”
“Do you think I am Santa at our house?”
“It’s true. Mommy and I put the presents under the tree after you go to bed and I eat the cookies and drink the eggnog.”
Then she started crying. “But I hear Santa on the roof.”
“Do the presents you have gotten or will get change because Santa isn’t real?”
“Can we still pretend for the little kids?”
“What is the real meaning of Christmas?”
“To remember Jesus being born.”
“So what should we do?”
“Be nice to people and love each other.”