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Saving Santa Claus

Keep the Spirit of Santa Alive

Stories of Santa Claus, the Yule Elf, and Odin, Father Christmas, and other similar figures of Yuletide lore around the world feature many parallels that might surprise children.

When a child asks, Is Santa Claus Real? parents may consider what question they are answering. Does Santa Claus exist in the real world? No, maybe, probably not? Does he exist in the world of the imagination? Yes! He certainly exists in the stories of people around the world.

Is Santa Claus Real?

Beyond giving a simple yes or no answer, parents may consider the consequences to children of how they approach, interpret, and inevitably answer the Santa question.

When eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon asked her father the inevitable question of whether or not Santa Claus is real, he told her to ask The Sun. New York Sun writer Francis P. Church answered in the affirmative in an unsigned, but nonetheless famous editorial.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.”–Francis P. Church, New York Sun, 1897

When eight-year-old Jason asked his mother the same question, Jan Hunt, author of Does the Santa Legend Endanger Trust?, answered in the negative, telling her son that Santa is a myth based on the story of Saint Nicholas. When her son responded with dismay, confusion, and sadness, Jan Hunt regretted telling him that Santa was real in the first place.

Parents may choose to support their children’s belief in Santa Claus with the body of a jolly old elf or in Santa Claus as the embodiment of the Christmas spirit.


Renewing the Spirit of Santa

If you’re not quite ready to let go of the magic of Santa at your house, use these tips to continue the tradition of the Christmas spirit alive with the little ones and have fun with the older children by having them guessing on Christmas morning.

The spirit of Santa Claus is a fun and memorable tradition for kids around the world. But when older children begin to ask questions about the existence of the Jolly Old Elf, it’s hard to keep the fun going for the younger kids in the house. Questions about how Santa delivers gifts to all the children of the world on one night, how he gets down the chimney, and how Santa can be at every mall at one time become more and more frequent. Use these fun ideas to keep the spirit of Santa alive and well at your house this year.

Change the time when Santa comes from year to year

Most children look forward to waking up and seeing gifts under the tree first thing in the morning, but what’s wrong with opening gifts as soon as Santa leaves them? Let your kids go to bed at their regular time, and choose a moment in the middle of the night to go into your kids’ room and tell them you just heard reindeer on the roof. Once all the kids are awake and downstairs, go ahead and have Christmas, even if it’s three o’clock in the morning. Of course, you’ll have to do your part to get ready for this fun twist to morning gifts, but there’s always time for a nap later in the day.

Feed Santa’s reindeer

Purchase a reindeer feeding kit at your local holiday supply store, or simply purchase some cracked corn for feeding ducks or squirrels. Have your kids go outside and leave the reindeer food in a strategic place for the reindeer to eat it. The food will be miraculously gone the next morning and the magic will go a long way to keeping kids believing.

Give kids letters from Santa each year

Leave a note for each child from Santa that tells something about them that only Santa would know. Maybe they cleaned their room without being asked that month, picked up their clothes, or got a good grade on a test after extra study. This note from Santa will help kids with the idea that “He sees you when you’re sleeping; he knows when you’re awake!”

Have Santa leave something behind that you can return to him next year

Maybe Santa got in a hurry and dropped a glove, or got his coat stuck on something and lost a button. Put one of these items next to Santa’s plate of cookies with a note. Be sure Santa leaves a note thanking the child for taking care of the item and giving it back.

Visit Santa at the same place each year

Choose a place to visit Santa with a focus on talking with the children and less about the picture taking. Places like museums, libraries, or other unique venues tend to have more realistic Santas than the ones typically at the mall. Visit Santa in the same location each year to help make the experience more real for little ones.

Keeping older kids believing is the best way to ensure younger children get plenty of time with the wonder of Santa Claus. But if you can’t keep the game going long enough, be sure to talk with older children about not telling the secret until the younger ones are ready to let it go. Let kids know how important it is not to spoil the fun for everyone and that all kids need their own special time to believe.

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