Santa Claus; the answer to and cause of so many parents’ holiday problems. Kids don’t like their gift? Blame Santa! Kids question how Santa gets in the house when you don’t have a chimney? Quickly come up with elaborate story about how he squeezes through the heater vents and try to remember the exact details of your growing lie for the next 6 years. Sure, there’s nothing quite like a child’s face on Christmas morning after they race down the stairs and find the bounty of gifts that Jolly Old St. Nick supposedly left them, but there is also nothing quite like the weight off your shoulders when you tell them the truth and no longer have to cover your tracks.
There are countless ways for children to find out that the North Pole is essentially uninhabitable save for some polar bears and arctic fox. Sometimes an older kid on the playground will do the dirty work for you, and more often than not, a child will put two and two together on their own. Sometimes though, it’s up to you to break it to them gently. There is no set age that children need to know by, and you know your child’s emotional intelligence best, but if they are starting to ask a lot of questions then it’s a pretty good indication that they are capable of understanding, and accepting that Santa the person is not real.
For many, it’s as simple as telling them that Santa is as real as they want him to be. Like their favourite character in their favourite book, Santa is only brought to life in their imagination. Still, some will demand cold hard facts; “Where did all those gifts come from? And who ate the cookies and drank the milk?” Some children will find a sense of relief in knowing that a strange man doesn’t actually break into their house every year, but some will be tearful. How you respond to their reaction is more important than how you actually break the news to them. Be sure to explain that Christmas is about sharing time (and gifts! they still love gifts!) with family, and making beautiful memories. Tell them that you only perpetuated this massive lie because you wanted to make their holiday as magical as possible. Once they realize that Christmas as they know it is still very much intact, they will likely (hopefully) smile and hop off on their merry way.