Darcie Maranich

Darcie Maranich


When my oldest daughter—now eighteen—was a wee little thing I went to great lengths to bring life to the magic of Santa. Just before bedtime on Christmas Eve we’d stand out on the lawn and scatter “reindeer food” so that Rudolph and his buddies would be inclined to stay and graze while the big guy scurried down the chimney. And then after my daughter was tucked snug in her bed my husband and I would go about the business of proving that Santa had indeed visited during the night. We went beyond building a toy wonderland beneath the boughs of the tree; our goal was to leave no doubt that Santa was real. To that end, we’d nibble on the cookies she left for him, being sure to leave a few crumbs behind. As if that wasn’t enough, we’d even sprinkle ashes into boot print stencils on the fireplace hearth, only to feign annoyance over Santa’s mess in the morning.

Fast forward fifteen years or so and you’ll see a whole different representation of Santa in our home. Rest assured that gifts still magically appear under our tree on Christmas Eve, but Santa’s presence is no longer the big production it was back then. In fact, as soon as our youngest child—now six—was old enough to be curious, we very matter-of-factly told him that Santa isn’t a living physical being, but rather a symbolic representation of generosity and kindness. Admittedly, it’s a much different story than the one my oldest daughter grew up believing. Here’s the thing, though: with the truth about Santa stowed firmly in his head, my six-year-old son refuses to believe. The truth, that is. He refuses to believe the truth and tries, instead, to lay out a case for Santa’s existence.

It’s a fine line to walk—our desire to be honest with him while still indulging his childhood wonder and fantasy. We don’t want to quell his imagination or his innate ability to believe in things unseen, but we do want to teach him that the center of Christmas is Christ and that nothing Santa might bring would ever measure up to that gift.

For now, when he comes to us with proof that Santa lives, we listen intently. We ask questions and encourage him to explain his position, but we stop short of delivering the blows that would leave him no room for doubt. Curiosity is a good thing. It can be like the wings that give flight to a wild imagination, love of education, and unwavering faith. And while belief in Santa might not hurt, we’re hopeful that the truth will go a long way in developing the attributes we most desire to instill in our son, and in all of our children, for that matter.

While Santa may not be alive and well in our home these days, we know what he stands for. And we’re doing our best to foster his spirit without building our holiday around him. Santamas, after all, just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

(5) comments


We did that when the kids were younger- the reindeer food, nibbled cookies and depending on the excitement this year we still do. Our older kids understand now but (like me when I was a kid) don't really want to think about it not being real. Carter even asked me again the other day and then looked lost in thought, then said "never mind, I don't want to know!" :)

Darcie Maranich

Aw, how cute is that? I love that he knows himself well enough to stop you before you "ruin it" for him once and for all. Smart kid for sure.

Heather - Hopelessly Flawed

Agreed. We were never as elaborate as you though!

Once the girls were old enough to ask, I told them the truth. And I did feel a little sad about it, because it was a part of childhood gone...but I feel better knowing that I told them the truth.

I admit I believed in Santa as a kid, and I didn't feel scarred or have my faith shaken when I learned the truth...but at the same time, a lie is a lie. As a parent myself I felt like I need them to believe me on so many things, I don't want to jeopardize their faith in me (and ultimately in God) by lying to them about even a small thing.

In our house Santa is on the same plane as Mickey Mouse - fun for pretend. I know it's a bummer to most people, but as you said, Christ is a much greater gift - and a much greater person - than Santa is any day, and they do know that!

Darcie Maranich

I'm the same as you, Heather; I believed as a kid and I don't feel any worse off for it. But also like you, the "lie is a lie" thing resonates with me. There's more to it for me, though. I feel like our focus on Santa with the older girls gave them the wrong "feel" to Christmas. Maybe a tad too commercialized. Having kids with such a huge age difference allows me to do things differently--steer more towards traditional values. When you know better, you do better.

PS. I love that you compared Santa to Mickey. Spot on!


Well, I have Santa problem this year. Santa has always been a part of our Christmas. My oldest, age 17 now, asked me point-blank when he was about 8 or 9 and I told him the truth. He was mad that I lied to him and he's still mad!

Now my daughter is 11 years old and still believes (so she says) and even asked to go see him at the mall this year. As much as I did perpetuate the belief of Santa Claus in years past, now I am over it! In our house Santa brought the toys, while we parents gave the non-toy gifts. At age 11 there are really no "toys" for her. She want things like scarves and nail polish. And there is no way that Santa is getting credit for the Ugg boots that I bought her! So, what does Santa give her at age 11? I am stumped and tired of this charade. I bought her a few art kits "from Santa", but honestly I wouldn't have bought those if Santa no longer visited our house because she already has a gazillion art kits. It's annoying.

I tried to ease her down gently this year, explaining that Santa gives less and less as kids get older and expects parents to give instead. That this year, since she is 11, that she will get 1-2 small gifts from Santa and the rest from her parents. She looked ready to cry. And I said that since her brother was 17, he's past the age of Santa presents. She protested and said that as long as he lived in the house, he should get something from Santa, so he has another year. Arghh! What does a 17 year old get from Santa????

I'll go along this year. Santa will give her 2 art kits and her parents will give her the good stuff: Uggs, clothes, the girly things she asked for. Hopefully she will get the picture.

I do love Santa - in the spirit of Christmas. I just think that it is time for him to stop visiting my house!

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