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I Saw Mommy Killing Santa Claus

One of my very best friends (a fellow military spouse) and I had a conversation recently about Christmas and how we want our kids to experience this magical time of year. My friend is a fellow Christian who home schools her 4 kids—all of whom are young enough to believe in Santa Claus.

Before I go any further, I have to let you know that this post is a Santa spoiler alert. So, if you have a habit of curling up by the fire and reading my posts aloud to your children, now would be a good time to forgo that routine. Instead, you might want to read them something a bit less scarring.

Back to my story…

This friend of mine is an incredible mom. She’s the kind of mom—and person—I want to be more like in so many ways. She’s energetic, dedicated, patient, consistent, and just completely on top of things. She truly is a fantastic educator, and her kids have thrived in their homeschool environment.

So, I was curious to hear how she and her husband handle this whole Santa business at their house because Brian and I have gone back and forth about it. And now that our kids are at the age where they see and somewhat understand this Santa character, we need to go ahead and know for sure how we want to proceed come Christmas morning.

Here is her response to my question about how they handle Santa (this is my paraphrase; I didn’t record our conversation):

Our kids are so confused. We started out doing the whole Santa thing, but then we decided that wasn’t what we wanted to do any more. So, we stopped. Then, [her 3-year-old] came to me recently and said, “Mama, is Santa going to bring me toys this year?” I decided to tell him the truth. I said, “Well, honey, no. He’s not. Because Santa isn’t real.” And he looked at me kind of puzzled like he didn’t quite understand. So, I said, “Santa—or St. Nicholas—lived a long time ago…he was a very nice man who gave gifts to children. But, he’s not alive any more.” He still didn’t understand, so I said, “Sweetie, Santa is DEAD.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand scene.

My friend, the woman I respect so very much as a mother, told her 3-year-old that Santa is dead. D-E-A-D. And that just makes me love her even more.

Because, to be honest with you, I’ve been so conflicted about the “right” way to celebrate holidays. I’ve read all the posts like “5 Reasons I Kissed Our Elf on the Shelf Goodbye” or “10 Reasons I Kissed Santa Goodbye” or “7 Reasons I Kissed Christmas Gifts/Decorations Goodbye.” And don’t even get me started on the posts out there around Easter:  “8 Reasons I Kissed the Easter Bunny/Egg Hunts/The Word “Easter”/Marshmallow Peeps Goodbye.”

I’m so tempted to write a post called “3,000 Reasons I Kissed ‘Kissing Goodbye’ Goodbye.” 

In fairness, there are as many pro-tradition fanatics out there to offset the anti-tradition ones. And though some of these posts are helpful and Biblically grounded (like one by Noel Piper entitled Thinking About Santa), most of them are incredibly legalistic and little more than holier-than-thou humble-bragging. I’d like to kiss “kissing goodbye” posts goodbye.


I told my friend that I had to share her story because I’m sure there are so many mothers out there who vacillate between tradition and conviction. And so much of what we read/watch seems to tell us that no matter what we’re doing, we’re doing it wrong. I don’t want this to be that kind of post because, to be honest, I have wavered on this point for quite some time.

However, I would like to share with you what Brian and I have decided:

We’re killing Santa.

Not violently or anything. We’re not staging a make-believe massacre. But I have been especially convicted this year as I consider all that God has brought us through as a family. We have been through so many trials in our marriage. A miscarriage. Depression. Deaths in the family. You name it. It’s been rough. And I am determined to instill at least two truths to our children that are anti-Santa at their core:

1) Grace—“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, emphasis added).

I won’t tell my kids that they won’t get gifts unless they’re “good” because I’ve been given so much despite my sin. No, I won’t praise them when they drop my iPhone in the toilet (true story), but I will show them grace. And what day is better to model parental grace than on Christmas Day?

2) Miracles—I want our kids to fully appreciate the wonder of God’s miracles without confusing them with the “magic” of some jolly guy with a cookie problem. I want them to read my words one day and know that God performed a miracle in their parents’ hearts. In their parents’ marriage. In (God willing) their own hearts. I don’t believe that they would never learn Biblical truths if we taught them about Santa, but I do pray that they will care less about what Santa can bring them and more about what God can do through them. Especially at Christmastime, I want our children to be in awe of God’s miraculous power and not Santa’s pretend power.

These are, among other reasons, why we decided to kill Santa.

[So, let me get this straight. Instead of a post about why you “kissed Santa goodbye,” you wrote one about why you KILLED him? Tactful.]

Maybe I should have titled this post “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus Goodbye.” It’s less disturbing.

Kind of.

I know we’re in the minority here, but I want to hear from y’all. How many of you were/are conflicted about the Santa business? Did any of you start out teaching your kids about Santa and then kill him later?


Comments to "I Saw Mommy Killing Santa Claus"

  1. J

    December 13, 2013

    I think this is refreshing !
    I believe if you give these super powers to a toy giving jolly rancher ( he knows when you are sleeping he knows when your awake?) is kind of like giving Gods unique power to someone else. The kid will worship the fat man who can squeeze in any chimney. Most houses have electric fireplaces. How does that work? Kids aren’t dumb and they don’t like being lied to. The first commandment is something like
    ” I am The Lord Thy God, there is no other God but Me” I’m paraphrasing but I think it’s clear, giving God-like attributes to Santa is not really a good thing.
    And respect for parents? When Santa gave it to them? That’s another problem, the kids aren’t grateful for what their parents bought them! I like honesty better. And remembering a nice man who gave gifts to children a long time ago is more of a comfort than lying and making a big stink about it all. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Dona

    December 13, 2013

    A huge AMEN to you girl!!! Yeah, I did the whole Santa business with my 2 girls, but since my heart wasn’t really in it, they never got traumatized when we did away with him. But, praise God, both girls, and myself, have ended up in church and my grand, and great-grand kids are NOT learning about Santa! We go straight to the bible and teach the birth! But let me add another thought…..I’ve heard Santa referred to as the “big fat liar”. EXCUSE ME? He’s not real, therefore he cannot be a liar. That really annoys me. So! Merry Christmas to you and yours! Dona

  3. G-Man

    December 13, 2013

    So you’re saying Santa ISN’T REAL?!?!?!?!

    Well let’s step back and take a logical look at this thing. I grew up with Santa. You and Drew grew up with Santa. Look at how we all turned out…….KILL HIM, KILL HIM NOW!!!!!!!! 🙂

    • Katy in a Corner

      December 13, 2013

      Daddy, I notice you left mom out of your sarcastic response. Good move, G-man. 😉

  4. Whitney Standlea

    December 13, 2013

    Just to encourage you, our oldest is now five and we have never taught them that Santa is real and brings people presents. But, we have always learned about Santa. So far, even with him being around other kindergartners this year it has not been awkward. And he seems to really understand… he never thinks Santa is real, but he knows other people celebrate about Santa. Sometimes he even pretends to be Santa and deliver toys to his brother and sister. But to him, its just like pretending to be Lightening McQueen or something. He loves reading books that have Santa in them and seeing Santa at the store. Just like we read about the Gingerbread Baby and see gingerbread men all over town right now.

  5. Julie

    December 13, 2013

    We told our kids right from the start that Santa was not “real.” We made it clear that once upon a time, in a land far-far away there was a real guy on whom Santa is based. We told them the guy in the red suit was..a guy in a red suit pretending to be Santa.

    I also home schooled. I didn’t want to give them conflicting messages about “important” things that were real and not real. I decided that if they grew up believing Santa was real -until they found out I LIED to them- they might be less inclined to believe I was not also lying to them when I taught them that Jesus Christ was real.

    It’s cruel to lie to your children. It sets a bad precedent because, after all, if I lie to them it must be ok for them to lie to me! And If I lie to them and then tell them it’s wrong for them to lie to me, I am a hypocrite. Bad thing.

    Since you asked (you did, right?) how we handled it was by telling them what is known about the historical gift-giver from a bunch of cultures perspectives. We told them it was ok to pretend, and that if they wanted “Santa” to visit on Christmas Eve we would play along. We made it great fun, and the few times they asked us to do this we made one out of construction paper and put it on the wall (since we didn’t have a real fireplace back then) and we put out cookies and egg nog at their bedtime. Once they were in bed we would jingle bells and holler “HO-HO-HO!” and leave them 1 small gift each. We could hear them giggling in the bedrooms and it was really great fun. There was no deception, and they had the opportunity to experience “Santa” like the other kids (sort of). They really only wanted this once or maybe twice and after that, they didn’t ask anymore. The older ones told me they felt bad that other parents lied to their kids about it (without any input from us I might add).

    So you know, all our kids are now adults and they are well-adjusted and normal. No scarring. No prison. No psych meds either.

    • Katy in a Corner

      December 13, 2013

      I loved reading your story about how you taught the cultural figure of Santa while maintaining the true miracle of the virgin birth. Well done! And, I’m happy to hear that they weren’t scarred because of it. 🙂

  6. Saskwatch

    December 13, 2013

    Good job! Echo of my heart.

  7. Beth @ Sawdust and Embryos

    December 13, 2013

    This is SUCH a brave post! I hope you don’t get any hate-mail. People are SO OPINIONATED about Santa. It’s pretty annoying to me. I get that it’s a tradition for some people, and I’m a pretty sentimental person and SUPER value traditions. But Santa is NOT a tradition for me. And I have to say I grew up feeling that Christmas was pretty magical and special… even without Santa. I just can’t bring myself to lie to my children. I have too many friends that say they were DEVASTATED when they found out Santa isn’t real. Plus… I want credit for the presents I give. 🙂

  8. Suzanne Wendt

    December 13, 2013

    Agree, and I like how you said it. We’ve never promoted Santa.

  9. Gina

    December 13, 2013

    There is so much I love about this post, and truly nothing that I disagree with. HOWEVER…..*ugh, isn’t there always a “however” or “but”???!!* for MY family we try to find a balance that works for US. I say this with NO judgement, though! For me, I adore the holiday season starting on October 1 and all the way until my post-holiday blues set it–which is usually around mid-January 😉 We tell our girls that Santa is real, because I think there is nothing more soul-satisfying than seeing the light of magic in your child’s eyes. They write their lists, sit on his lap for photos, leave cookies and milk and on Christmas morning, he gets 60% of all the credit for the heap of plastic in our living room. And I wouldn’t change it for the world. Because while my kids are in awe of this magical person and what he does, they also learn how selfless he is and how giving his spirit is. They have learned that Santa & Jesus are not two different people, but really they are one in the same in many ways. We have been careful not to put Santa on a pedestal and to teach them, that there is a more important reason to celebrate Christmas. But I do like the side effects of the mixture of the two beliefs–They show their kindness and selflessness a little more this time of year because we have taught them that Jesus would want them to spread the spirit of Christmas, just the same as Santa does on Christmas eve. I don’t think there is a wrong or right way of handling “Santa”…but my kids better not hear the “truth” from someone elses kids—–or I’ll send my Elf on the Shelf over to their house to set things straight!! lol 😉 Merry Christmas!!!

    • Katy in a Corner

      December 13, 2013

      I love your comment, Gina. Because it shows that we can agree to disagree without slashing each other’s tires. However, I AM tempted to let at least some of the air out of them. KIDDING! Merry Christmas to you and yours!!!

  10. Penny & Don Cox

    December 13, 2013

    Every parent has to handle the Santa issue in a way that best serves the interests of their own family.
    Penny & I choose to follow family tradition…That Santa was a real person when the kids were very
    young. Then as they understood more, we transitioned to Santa was based on a real person but he was not a real live person…..and his ”Christmas Spirit of Giving” lives on in us, their parents….and we became ”Santa”….even today with kids 36 & 34, they still think of us as Santa. The whole story of baby Jesus was a whole separate deal…….That was God’s gift to mankind & we stressed to our children that the birth of Jesus was the real reason for Christmas as told in the Bible…..It worked for us.

  11. Monica

    December 15, 2013

    We are a Christian family,We’ve chosen to include Santa in our Christmas celebration. During Advent we light the candles of the advent wreath and have devotions. Our children participate in Christmas services at church. I am a church musician. We also take the kids to see Santa and have him deliver gifts.

    I have a 12 year old daughter who no longer believes in Santa. So, this week I had the conversation with her. “Are you upset that dad and I lied to you about Santa?” “Mom, what are you talking about?”, she replied. “Santa is so much fun. I don’t really think you lied to us. I think you wanted us to have as much fun at Christmas time as we could.”

    We have chosen to keep Christ’s birth at the center of our celebrations. No doubt about it!! We’ve also chosen to enjoy the legend of Santa and hold onto the fun as long as we can.

  12. PappyJack

    December 17, 2013

    Santa came to visit me until I was 20, yes, 20 years old (then I got married). It was just what we did. I would not trade all of the memories of my brother and me getting up at 4 am to see what Santa had brought us, going upstairs to get my mom and dad to show them, and wondering why they didn’t want to get up!! Thanks to my mom and dad for forgoing their pride and letting Santa get the credit for what we received on Christmas morning! But I thank them, too, for teaching us the true meaning of Christ in the season because we gave money, clothes and other thing to folks that didn’t have it as good as we did. We learned that there would be no hope if Christ hadn’t been given to us.
    Our brains are complex. I think there is room to know Christ and the true meaning AND have the fun that “Santa” can bring on Christmas morning … 🙂

  13. J

    December 30, 2013

    I cried more watching Frosty the Snowman, and felt an emotional bond
    Closer than anything Santa ever did.
    Now, Frosty, making snowmen in the snow is part of the winter break!
    I like to keep things real.

  14. Rebeca

    February 7, 2014

    Wow. Wow. Wow. Just amazing! Everything! I’m just blown away! God is truly doing amazing things through you (and has been)! You are such an inspiration and a glimpse of just how amazing God is! Keep on seeking His kingdom! So thankful I stumbled across your page!


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