The Cat’s Out of the Bag…

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This morning Camden and I were enjoying our breakfast of grits when she came out of left field with the following inquisition at nearly 4 years of age:

Cami: “Santa isn’t real is he? He’s just pretend, right?”

Me: “What do you think?”

Cami: “I think he is pretend.”

Me: Knowing good and well that my husband would not be happy with my honesty I answered her truthfully anyway. “You’re right. Santa is just pretend. Lots of people like to pretend that Santa exists because it makes them feel good and they have fun pretending he is real.” And just because I was curious I asked, “What makes you think Santa is pretend?”

Cami: “Because Santa is just pretend. He is not real. Santa is pretend like Jesus is pretend.”

Yikes. I quickly followed up that conversation explaining that Jesus was definitely a real person who lived long ago and that some people believe he was just a regular man that taught people about God and that others believe that he was the son of God and that he came to Earth to help us get to Heaven and show us how to live our lives by his example. I shared with her my own testimony of my faith in Jesus Christ. I am very thankful that I chose to tell her the truth about Santa because how will she ever learn to trust me if I’m not willing to answer her in truthfulness? Besides, it gave me an opportunity to share my own testimony and beliefs with her about Jesus that I may not have had the chance to do otherwise.

So all of you family members with young children be prepared for her to spill the beans. I’m not exactly sure how to keep her mum about the whole “pretend Santa” thing except for reiterating to her that lots of people like to pretend that Santa is real because it makes them happy. I only hope her nearly 9 year old step-sister realizes that Santa is not real. LOL.

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11 comments

  1. journeytocrunchville · December 5, 2008

    LOLOL, Dave. You are funny.

    Is it funny that I have been practicing with Camden about Santa? I keep playing pretend with her and getting excited about it with her so that hopefully she’ll play along.

    I asked her what she wanted Santa to bring her for Christmas. Her answer, “toys”. Then we heard jingling bells on the radio and we pretended to look outside for Santa and she “saw Santa and his reindeer.” So here’s hoping. She never once said “but Santa isn’t real. Then again when we are playing pretend she never has to reiterate that “it is just pretend.”

    I’m crossing my fingers. I’m hoping not to make it a “secret” because then I think it will just add to the temptation for her to tell others. If I say, “don’t tell anyone that Santa is pretend she is for sure going to tell someone.

  2. Amy Reid · December 5, 2008

    Not sure if you are still invited to Christmas. Dave.

  3. Amy Reid · December 4, 2008

    Wow. That’s crazy Jessica.
    I have to agree with Brianne, though. Keep Camden away from my boys! They would be crushed! (I think)
    And I know Camden won’t be kept away from them, but I do hope she can keep a secret for a few more years. I think it’s fun to play along with them. It’s just part of being a kid I guess.

    Amy

  4. journeytocrunchville · December 3, 2008

    Oh yes, that is true. He’s just not real in the sense that she has been exposed to. Flying reindeer, magical flying sleigh, presents that magically appear, etc. I need to teach her about the original Saint Nicholas.

  5. GMom · December 3, 2008

    Oh but Santa Clause is real. He represents America’s version of an indivdual who lived around 1700 years ago, St Nicholas. The website below gives an excellent history regarding how St Nicholas became our Santa Clause. So you can truthfully tell your children there was a Santa.

    http://www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=35

  6. Taximom · December 2, 2008

    Hoo, boy.

    My oldest believed in Santa til he was at least 9. He’s 13 now, and I think he still sort of believes. And it’s not because my husband or I EVER pushed Santa on him–we’re Jewish! He came home from school talking about Santa with such a light in his eyes, I decided that there is SOMETHING real and beautiful about Santa, and I wasn’t willing to destroy that light in his eyes.

    I like the way Laura Ingalls Wilder’s mother explained it in one of the Little House books:

    (Bear with me, I’m paraphrasing, okay?)

    She said something like, “Santa isn’t just one person, it’s impossible for one person to be everywhere at once. But when someone tries to make someone else happy, that’s Santa Claus. And if everyone tried all the time to make people happy, it would be like Christmas year-round.

    And the oldest daughter, Mary said, slowly, “I see…it’s like angels.”

    I read that chapter to my kids every Christmas.

    You might be wondering why a Jewish family would celebrate Christmas. We tell our kids that, although our faith teaches that Jesus was not the Messiah, and we are still waiting for the Messiah, it is indisputable that Jesus LIVED, and that he was a wonderful rabbi whose ideas changed the world (for the better). His birth is something to celebrate, not ignore, and a good time to pray (again) for peace and good will amongst all people of the world.

  7. Mommy Bee · December 2, 2008

    I explain santa as a fun tradition, based on the story of St Nicholas (who was real). We, like St Nick, give because Christ gives, and because we love Christ.
    In my house growing up, we never beleived in santa–he was a fun tradition, but we never wrote letters to him. Even as a kid I snuck stuff into my mommy’s stocking a couple of times and things like that. Apparently the unwrapped presents under the tree on Christmas morning were suppsoed to be ‘from santa’ but I totally didnt’ get that until I was about 17. :D
    My husband really likes the santa thing though, and he encourages letter writing and all that. I agree though that a staunch belief in santa, easter bunny, tooth fairy, etc just leads to complications about believe in Christ. So I prefer to make them ‘traditions’ rather than real beliefs.

  8. journeytocrunchville · December 2, 2008

    Jenn,

    You and I have the exact same take on Santa’s role in society and childhood (at least it seems that way).

    My daughter and I will keep on pretending about Santa just like we pretend that she is a various different princess every day or that our living room is filled with lava or that we are flying to Neverland. She is definitely still engrossed in the land of make believe and I love that about her and about childhood in general.

    Like everything else I’ve decided to follow her lead. She was obviously keen enough to decipher that Santa, like the rest of her make believe world, is just pretend. While we embrace magical thinking and pretend it is important to me that we don’t stifle her growth or teach her not to trust her own judgments and intuitions about the world around her. For me there is a difference in pretending with your children in contrast to the secretive type nature that seems to develop with Santa in most families. Helping her to decipher “real” and “pretend” is important to me for other reasons such as her exposure to media. We’ve all ready talked (at a very simplistic level) on how commercials/movies/people on the TV are a lot of pretend. I am hoping that this will pave the way for good discussions when she is older about the manipulative tactics of commercials and media in general or about things “too good to be true.” I also want to teach her to trust her own “feelings” about people (the feeling you get when someone is “off”) and I believe being honest about things like Santa will help her to keep trusting her own judgments.

    Besides, I have wonderful memories of Christmas and I don’t have any scarring memories of finding out Santa wasn’t “real” but I do remember feeling like it was necessary to pretend that he was still real, even when I knew he wasn’t, to protect my parents feelings. I’d rather we just be able to enjoy the make believe together without any pressure on her to carry it on when she’d done with it. I believe there is enough magic and wonder in this world even without a big fat man that leaves presents for good little boy and girls.

    I too am thinking of getting a book to talk about the “real” Santa as well.

  9. Jenn Burns · December 2, 2008

    that’s funny! we def. don’t give small kids enough credit, eh? we chose not to pretend about santa before we even had kids for that reason – Jesus. I def. grew up putting Jesus & Santa in the same category, and when I came to faith as an adult, decided I didn’t want to “lie” to my kids about anything so they knew I always told them exactly what I believed to be true. However, we do read santa books & watch santa shows ect. They see him the same as they see Clifford — super fun, and pretend. So despite what strangers admonished me about last year (seriously..ugh), I do NOT think their Christmas’ are ruined (esp. considering we’re Christians & prefer to lend more excitement to Jesus’ “birthday” than “being good so you can get toys” anyway)!

    Anyhow, this is the first year i’m thinking he might “ruin” santa for other kids. I’ve done my best to explain that we don’t correct people who want to pretend Santa’s real but you know…toddlers… i’m not holding my breath. I think this year we’re going to read about the actual “St. Nick” so he can have an idea in his mind that it WAS a real person originally, though he had no super powers & all…. so perhaps he’ll be more hesitant to proclaim he’s not real to unsuspecting children. ;)

  10. Brianne S. · December 2, 2008

    I’m glad you two had such a great teaching moment. Although I will be keeping Kaylin away from Camden until she is at least 10 :-).

  11. Beth · December 2, 2008

    We take a different spin on it. I prefer to keep the wonder and magic alive. Kids today have enough reality slapping them.

    Kaitlyn asked about Santa. In our house – *I* am Santa. And yes I am real. She knows the ones at the mall are just nice men who are helping children have fun at Christmas. But when she asks I ask her stuff back. “Do you get gifts in your stocking?” she says yes. “Then what do you think?”

    So far – so good.

    Plus we’ve had the sex and baby talk – so I figure I am clear for now..lol

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