When my son was in preschool, I was eating brownies with a bunch of moms, listening to them chat about the verbal acrobatics required to keep the magic of Santa a reality in their house. Oh, look what you found! Santa must have made an early delivery! No, Santa’s not watching you sleep, that’s just a silly song. Of course you’re not naughtier than Emma! Santa brought her that giant swing-set to share with nice friends like you.
They asked me how I handle tricky Santa questions with my son, and I said, “Oh, he knows Santa is pretend.”
Maybe you are feeling as shocked as my friends looked in that moment, but reader, let me assure you, the kids are all right.
With my son, he asked point blank if Santa was real or pretend and we answered honestly because that felt right to us. We are considerate magic-breakers, though, so we told him it would ruin the fun of the pretend if he told friends, “Santa’s actually not real.” He played it cool.
With my (not so quiet) daughter it was a little trickier. She got a modified version: “We [as in, the parents] don’t believe in Santa, but we can’t prove he doesn’t exist. If he only comes to those who believe, then how would we know?”
My son decided this was interesting and wanted to set up an experiment. I mean, you can’t just take your parents’ word for it, right?
They left cookies out for Santa and made us promise not to eat them. I was worried they would be disappointed on Christmas (we were going to keep our no-cookie promise), so they decided that if the cookies were still there in the morning, they could eat them when they woke. Win, win.
Despite the fact that we are shameful Santa heretics, we really do LOVE reading about Santa. I get chill bumps every time I read The Polar Express, and today when my seven-year-old walked in and saw all the wrapped presents under the tree (I was a busy elf today), she said, “Santa came early! [Then stage whispered] I know he’s not real, I just like to pretend.”
The following are lovely read-alouds, whatever your feelings about Ol’ Saint Nick.
Everything by William Joyce is an adventure, and Santa Calls is no exception.
Baum’s The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus is a longer read, perfect for big fans.
Here Comes Santa Cat is as delightfully silly as it sounds.
Even more silliness in The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold.
Santa from Cincinnati is a coming of age story for the boy who would become everyone’s favorite gift-giver.
And for your favorite little bear, check out Where Teddy Bears Come From
And Welcome Comfort by Patricia Polacco to tug at your heartstrings
Happy Reading and Merry Christmas!