I told my son there is no Santa Claus…

He is three weeks shy of his ninth birthday. I can’t believe we made it this far.

I never believed.

Susan and I had older siblings who must have told us when we were still in our cribs, because I don’t recall ever believing in Santa, The Tooth Fairy, The Easter Bunny, or any other form of magic.

At seven, in complete shock that anyone actually believed in Santa, I told my six year old friend in car pool that there was no such thing as Santa, Fairies, or chocolate toting Bunnies. And to this day, I remember the look of pure fury her mother shot in my direction as I ripped her daughter out of her innocence and threw her, tear streaked face and all, into “real life.”

And if it weren’t for peer pressure, (one cousin can’t not believe!) I would probably never have told my son that Santa was real. (Although, in a court of law, I don’t think I have ever said the word “real” in reference to Santa.)

But I did go along with the Santa traditions, trying my very hardest to downplay Santa and play up Jesus! And because his older cousins still steadfastly believed, Jackson’s faith in the red-clothed fellow has remained.

The last few years though, Jackson has had serious doubts — keep him up at night trying to decide kind of doubts. And he has asked me, no grilled me, if Santa exists.

I simply replied, “What do you think?” And he would start rambling out the strong case for Santa’s nonexistence, but still remain on the fence, stuck between belief and logic.

The other day though, I sensed the fun was over. Jackson was tormented not knowing for sure. And if you know my son, you can imagine the stress this was causing him.

I looked him in the eye and made him promise to keep the magic alive for his little sister and his cousins. I told him about how I never got to believe because of my siblings.

And then I told him.

And then I panicked.

I wanted to take it back! I wanted him to be three years old again. I didn’t want it to all be over.

But he was ready. He needed to know. And he is now beaming with pride about being “in on the magic.”

He wants to help me stuff the stockings, (I said no.) And he is still keeping up the Santa love for the little girls.

This weekend, when we had Santa Calls for Olivia, Julia, and Sophia, Jackson went along with the fun. He hasn’t let it slip at all.

But now that Jackson is “all grown up,” I am savoring Olivia’s innocent days even more! I had so much fun watching her eyes light up when “Santa called her.” (I will post about that too. I have video. Too cute.)

It all goes by so fast. Before I started this parenting thing, I thought it was better to not believe in Santa. But now that I am here, nine years in, I am glad I did.

My kids love Jesus. They know Christmas is His birthday and that Jesus is what this season is all about.

Believing in Santa doesn’t take that away from them I don’t think. It is just some fun magic that makes their eyes sparkle and their imaginations dance.

So while Olivia still writes letters to Santa and tries to stay off the naughty list, I am going to enjoy every silly second of it all!

P.S. I posted last week about the Santa Calls — and gave the coupon code 5mform for a free Santa call for our readers. You can still use that coupon code, it isn’t too late. Also, so you know, PhoneGreetings.com is a sponsor of 5 Minutes for Mom this month.

Written by Janice Croze, co-founder of 5 Minutes for Mom. Talk with me: @5minutesformom and Facebook.com/5minutesformom.


  1. says

    I remember when I had to tell my son that the tooth fairy was me. It was recently too. I had him believing until 11. Or maybe he just pretends to believe the last few years to collect the money 😉
    I know that feeling, the let go…it’s hard, it’s weird.

  2. says

    i remember being in that moment with our oldest (now 13)…but like you said, he was ready. there had been some talk about the existence of santa claus among his friends at school and finally, the issue had to be addressed :)

    we also have a 4 year old and a 1.5 year old. we haven’t really emphasized the whole santa thing (they’ve never had a picture taken with santa and i doubt we’d take them unless they requested it), primarily because we don’t want it to detract from what christmas is truly about: jesus! with our oldest, we had done the whole santa thing, and it turned into a whole present-centered holiday for him no matter how much we tried to remind him that it wasn’t really about the amount of stuff you get. every christmas season, he would dig through all the toy catalogs, eyes oogling over all the stuff as he made up his christmas list. so we’re trying to find a different approach with the rest of the little ones. i certainly don’t want to squash any flourishing of the imagination, but finding that balance between encouraging the imagination to grow and not lying to them has been tricky in regards to the whole santa thing.

  3. says

    but you are LYING to your children if you tell them that Santa is real.

    It’s not magic, it’s not fun, it’s plain and simple lying to your children.

    It’s one thing to tell them that that LOTS of people believe in Santa, and that the whole santa thing started because of one good man giving presents to people. And so it makes it fun to give presents and to be secretive about it. It’s another thing entirely to lie to your children and say that he’s real.

    Don’t you think that you are setting yourself up for your children wondering what else you are lying to them about? (aka the existence of God?)

  4. says

    I disagree. I see nothing wrong with allowing children to believe in the magic and wonder of Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. It doesn’t detract from your chosen religion. It’s all in how you parent.

    I actually felt sad reading this story and some of the comments.

  5. says

    I grew up believing in Santa and I loved every minute of it. I loved the magic of Santa and I DID think that it was fun. I’m not sure when I stopped “believing” (I’m pretty sure that I still do believe), but it was probably somewhere between 8-10. It didn’t break my heart or make me doubt my parents or anything else. I sort of just phased out of it. My parents just stopped talking about Santa and we just kinda moved on. Our parents did a good job with keeping the focus on Jesus and my sister and I always knew the true meaning of Christmas.

    I feel bad for kids that don’t get a chance to believe in Santa. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and once those kids are grown, you’ve missed the chance. Santa was a very special part of my childhood that I look back on very fondly. I think it fueled a lot of creativity and imagination in me. I can’t wait until my daughter is old enough for Santa, I’m so looking forward to it!

  6. says

    What is it with you and your sister’s posts lately? All they make me do is well up and cry! I’m reading along and all of a sudden the tears start flowing. Oh gosh, here they come again. My youngest is 7. He has been asking me for about a month if Santa is real. I ask him the same thing you do, “What do you think?” He would turn it around to me and I then ignore him. I don’t know that I’m ready for my last one to know. After reading this post, I’m pretty sure I’m still not. At the same time he was asking me about Santa, he was asking about the tooth fairy. The other day he put a tooth under his pillow and said, “you can just give me the money, I know you’re the tooth fairy.” I laughed and just walked away.

    Waaah I’m not ready for all my LASTS!!

  7. says

    Haha my cousin told me about Santa. And I didn’t want to believe it. I was pretty devastated. Your story about telling your 6 year old friend was too funny. I can’t believe you don’t remember believing in Santa!

    PS I love how your son likes being “in on the magic” though.

  8. says

    I have always taken a different outlook while they may have learned early on that Santa was not really we always talked about the Christmas Spirit

  9. says

    I know exactly what you mean! I did the same thing last year with my eldest who was eight and she was devastated. Tears and everything. I wanted to take it back the minute I said it. The two middle ones don’t “really” believe, but I don’t mind them pretending like they do. We like to play up Jesus more, anyway. It was hard, but I’m glad we did it. None of our close friends do Santa, so our kids were constantly being bombarded with “he’s not real”.

  10. says

    My son was 5 when he stopped believing, in the car he proclaimed that Santa wasn’t real. With him I got that extra year- though there were still way to few. But I must say after he found out the magic was still there, he got to play Santa through our Angel tree at church. With him not *believing* I was able to spend a little less on keeping the myth alive and we put that $$ towards kids who were really in need. He picked the kids off the tree, and had a big say (but not the final one) over what we got, then he wrapped it and brought it back to church. Now at 15 he’s loved playing Santa for his baby sister, who still firmly believes at 5 Santa is real. We concentrate more on Jesus here, and giving gifts to each other now but Santa is known and expected to bring that 1 gift she asks for that I just wont buy- though this year after the purchase she changed her mind when talking to Santa the little twirp 😉

    I do enjoy Emmy still believing, and since Matt stopped at 5 I treasure every year with her. Though thankfully I do know from Matt even when she stops believing we can still keep the magic alive.

  11. stacie says

    let the kids believe as long as they can and only tell them if they asked afew weeks ago my son said santa was daddy and he is only 4 but i told me no he wasnt bc i want to believe in santa there was a santa a long time ago so let the kids believe in santa and the tooth fairy its no harm

  12. says

    Sadly I believed until I was 14 years old, yup, 14. My parents always told us if we didn’t believe Santa wouldn’t visit so of course I didn’t want those lovely presents to end!

    I do remember one year (my fondest memory of the Santa Clause years) we went to eat at a Mexican restaurant, I was standing with my mother to pay the bill and saw a large man in front of us with a white beard in a red outfit. I whispered to my mom “I think that’s Santa Clause!”. So she asked him for me if he was indeed, Santa Clause. The old man looked at me with the biggest grin and said yes! now I would of thought of him as any other mall type santa if it wasn’t for the fact that he pulled out an ID (fake mind you, but I didn’t know it at the time) and on his ID it even said Kris Kringle, address The North Pole. I was so astonished and in total belief at that moment, I still remember that and joke about it with my parents. Those memories alone of believing in something even when there’s real proof made my childhood very magical.

  13. says

    I believed till I was 12. I figured my parents wouldn’t lie to me so it must be true. I talked aloud about the inconsistencies but never asked for the actual answer till I was 12. When I found out the truth, I was devastated. I felt my parents lied to me and was upset about that. My Christmas that year was ruined. The year after was better but it still wasn’t great.

    Because of that and because we’re Pagan, we’ve decided not to say Santa, Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny are real. Presents come from us. My girls are 3 and almost 5 and they keep hearing about Santa and reindeer from others and shows and keep talking about him coming and I keep reminding them that he was real at one time but there is not santa that comes down the chimney and gives them presents now. They say I know but then talk about it again later. I’m not sure what they understand yet but as they get older it will sink in. I feel not lying is best for our family although I understand why others do it. But it wasn’t magical for me. It was heartbreaking.

  14. lisawonbig says

    My cousin told me about Santa. WE were both 5 years old. (She’s 5 months older than me.)49 years later, I can still recall the moment vividly. But I guess I didn’t completely believe her, because I recall listening for reindeer with my little sister

  15. says

    Awww…I remember telling my oldest as well. You are right, it’s like ripping what little bit of magic left from them. I kind of have to side with Jackson on the helping part though. Many of my fondest Christmas memories were after I found out Santa wasn’t real and I was able to play elf with my Grandmother for all the other kids, filling stocking, setting up the Barbie the way I knew my cousin would want them. LOTS of fun memories in helping. :)

  16. Cindy says

    We have never come out and admitted anything to our now 15 year old daughter. She, also, has not questioned the Santa rituals (even still). Our 7.5 year old daughter very steadfastly believes in Santa, but on occasion, when others (children, mostly) hint at there being no Santa, she will ask if Santa is real. The *way* she asks is very much her seeking affirmation of what she believes is true. Our answer to the “Is Santa real” question has always been (and always will be) that Santa is the magical spirit of Christmas and he (or she) exists only for those that believe. Then we ask her if she believes Santa is real and, still, she very excitedly answers that she does.

    I feel the magic may be ending soon though… I *love* the magical excitement that Santa brings for everyone. The oldest one still helps the youngest to write her letters to Santa. and choose what cookies will be set out for his snack. Its so sweet.

  17. says

    Oh sweet girl I could feel the angst in this post. My youngest is walking the line when it comes to Santa. Does she still believe? I think so! If not, she is not sayin. Ha. I think the magic of the season, the spirit of giving and the idea of Santa is a worth while tradition as long as we always remember the true reason for the season.
    Merry Christmas to you and yours:)

  18. says

    you did good hon :)

    I love this picture of Jackson.

    And you know my kids believe in Jesus too and I don’t think Santa takes away from that. When I was a kid I believed in both and when I found out Santa wasn’t real it had no bearing whatsoever on my belief in Jesus.

    Autism has taken away a lot of the easy fun for Aiden and his siblings and I am thrilled that Santa can bring some of that fun magic back for them. :)

  19. Elizabeth says

    I have young relatives who were always told Santa doesn’t exist by their mother. Now, their mother doesn’t live near them anymore (by her choice). They have decided for themselves to believe and their having a blast with it. Do they know for certain? Who knows? But its their way of celebrating. Their hearts were already broken by the person closest to them, and instead, their creating their own magic.

  20. says

    I was the firstborn in my family, and I remember that I *loved* being in on the secret. I didn’t let slip with my sister, but it was tons of fun feeling like I had one up on her.

    Ah, siblings!

  21. says

    My kids believed through 5th grade, as did most of their friends. At age ten, they probably saw that it was illogical, but they wanted so much to believe. My step-daughter got made fun of when she was in fourth grade, and that’s how she found out. I was the one who told my twins. It came up at Easter time just a few short months after their last “Santa” presents. It was probably as sad for me as it was for them, not having that “magic” anymore.

  22. says

    I was worried that I’d have to tell my 11-year-old before he went to middle school next year. He just didn’t want to let the magic go! His older brother figured it out four years ago, and I swore him to secrecy. I described it as one of those things like a “secret society.” Once you know the truth and are in on it, you have a responsibility to preserve the magic for others.

    My older son kept his word, and my younger one just kept on believin’!

    Fortunately, after last Christmas, my younger son smiled and said, “Mom, the handwriting on the Santa tag is the same as yours! You can tell me the truth.”

    Whew. Middle school transition was going to be hard enough without bursting the Santa bubble.

  23. says

    I don’t really remember believing in Santa but a few years ago we were on vacation. Middle of summer in a lava field and Santa was there. White t-shirt, red pants, big white beard. My husband and I both felt like maybe it really was Santa. This was our first year with the kids that Santa was a big deal. I love fostering imagination and creativity in my children while keeping the right heart in perspective.

  24. says

    My son is getting ready to be 9 and he was starting to get skeptical this year. However, when we threw a little ash on the ground [right in front of the fireplace] and opened the curtains, he was ‘locked in’ to the dream. He claims to have undeniable proof this year!

    However, because of his age and the peer pressure, I am pretty positive that this is the last year he will believe. I hope he keeps the magic alive for my 3 year old!

  25. says

    I never remember believing either and I was the oldest child. My kids are firm believers though and now that my oldest is no longer homeschooling, I’m wondering how long he’ll keep believing.

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