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One day I am going to be asked about the real Santa. Here is what I plan on telling my child.

I wasn’t planning on finding out about the real Santa as I was poking around in my mother’s room. I opened her closet door, and I vividly remember seeing what felt like a mountain of toys. There was a football for my brother and dolls for my sister and me. I realized in an instant what they were, and it was like a lightbulb went off in my brain. I hurried to close the door before my brother and sister could see.

Obviously I didn’t do a great job because later that night I found myself sitting on my mother’s lap. She was talking to me about Santa and how he’s watching me (creepy) and then asked me if I went into her closest. I lied that day. I want to think I lied because I knew it would disappoint her if I found out the truth. In reality, I was being a kid and trying to keep myself out of trouble. 

the real santa smiling

You can’t unsee what has been seen, and you can’t unknow once you know the truth. And so, I was seven when I discovered there was no Santa. It wasn’t until three years later that I would receive the official, “There is no Santa” talk. There wasn’t a cute poem or letter that my mother could share with me. It wasn’t under the best circumstances that we had this talk. Our family had been struggling that year, and she didn’t want me to be disappointed if there weren’t a lot of presents under the tree. 

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I have met a lot of people who all celebrated Christmas differently. I’ve had a lot of years to think about how I would handle the whole Santa thing. In our home, Santa is a person. He is a jolly man who brings gifts to the children of the world. However, he is not an all-knowing man who sits at the North Pole, sorting kids into naughty and nice groups. We don’t use Santa to demand good behavior from our daughter.

But there will come a day that she will ask me, “Mama is Santa real?” and this is what I will tell her.

Yes, Santa is real.

But not in the form that you have come to know. He is not a jolly old man with a beard and a red suit who flies through the world on a sleigh pulled by reindeer. The presents you received over the years from Santa were actually from Mama and Daddy. We carefully chose your gift and placed it by the tree, the same way our parents did for us and just as you are likely to do with your kids. But we are not the real Santa.  

Santa is bigger than any one person. 

Santa is the spirit of giving. The idea that we are called to give to others without expecting anything in return. The essence of Santa teaches kids to believe in something they cannot see. This is faith, and you will need an abundance of it as you walk through this life. We have taught you that on Christmas, the world received the ultimate gift of Jesus Christ. As you also know, Jesus would later give the greatest gift of all, his life. He did this without expecting anything in return. Sometimes it can be difficult for little kids to understand what true giving is all about, so Santa was created to help them understand. 

The spirit of Santa lives in all of us. Now that you know, we hope that you will keep the spirit of Santa alive for other kids. Keeping the secret means not telling other kids who are not ready to hear. But more importantly, we hope that you keep the spirit of Santa alive. The miracle of Christmas is shown through volunteering in our community, giving away your toys, or making cards for kids who are sick. Whenever you give of yourself without expecting anything in return, you are showing the world the true meaning of Christmas. You are being Santa. 

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I don’t know how long we have until we have to address this topic, but I hope it’s a long time. Oh, and about that Christmas, my mom was worried about the gifts…I remember it being incredible — just something to think about.