If you know me at all you know I am a HUGE Christmas fanatic! I love the season, I love the carols, the traditions, being with family, making memories, etc. But this old carol has one verse that beautifully states why I love Christmas so much:

Christ by highest heaven adored

Christ the everlasting Lord

Late in time behold Him come

Offspring of the virgin womb

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see

Hail the incarnate Deity

Pleased as man with men to dwell

Jesus, our Immanuel

I grew up with a deep love for Christmas in my heart. As most, I believed Santa Claus brought gifts and we chased elves around our house who would leave us small presents (a family tradition that goes back FAR before Elf On the Shelf). I love and cherish those memories and I couldn’t wait to have children of my own to continue it on.

But imagining what you will do when you have your own children and actually having children, are two different things.

I have always struggled with telling my children about Santa Claus and the elves. For some of you, you may scoff at this – I could care less b/c this isn’t for you. We have always taught our children the true meaning of Christmas and why we celebrate Christ’s birth. But we have also taught them who Saint Nicholas truly was and why we celebrate him  at the time of Christmas.

I wanted my children to have the same memories and fun at Christmas as I did when I was a kid. But I couldn’t get around the fact that I, their father, was not telling them the truth. I would tell my kids straight up that monsters aren’t real, the Hulk isn’t real, orcs from Lord of the Rings aren’t real – but when they’d ask about Santa I’d dodge the question with a question of my own, “Well what do you think?” Not wanting to tell them the truth, but not wanting to lie. Recently Cadon, my 6 year old, said, “Dad, I wish you’d just tell me!”

After some more thought and reflection, I came to a very simple conclusion: I didn’t want to tell my kids the truth about Santa Claus because I was being selfish. That’s right, my motivations were driven out of selfishness. I wanted to created those memories, I wanted to experience those things with my kids, I, I, I, I I realized I was more concerned about myself than I was about truth.

As a father, I could not allow myself to live another day without being honest and speaking truth to my children. I refuse to lead my family this way, and I had to realize it was my selfishness that was keeping me from leading honestly in this area of Santa and Christmas.

So we sat them down and here is how the conversation went:

1. We asked our kids why we celebrate Christmas: they answered that it’s all about Jesus! (proud dad!)

2. We reaffirmed why we celebrate St Nicholas. That Nicholas was a Bishop of the early church, attended the Council of Nicea (which is the creed we recite as a family each night before they go to bed – that’s right, my 5 & 6 year old can recite the Nicean Creed). That while at the Council of Nicea, tradition says that as Arius was denying the deity of Christ Nicholas punched him in the face! (Go Santa!) That Nicholas was wealthy, and provided for the poor. He gave gifts to children, and even provided a wedding for a poor young woman. I think that’s someone worth teaching our children about at Christmas time that embodies the spirit of the holiday.

3. But we told them, alas, that St. Nicholas died a long time ago. But people liked to tell stories about him. And eventually, over the years, people added a red suit, a sleigh, 8 tiny reindeer, elves, and the North Pole.

4. When we finally reiterated that Santa Claus, Père Noël, Saint Nicholas – was real, but has died, I was not prepared for their response.

Sitting on my lap, my children looked at me and said, “So you and Mama gave us those presents? And the gifts from the elves?” I said, “Yes, we did.” To which they immediately said, “Ok.”

Um…”Ok?” That’s it? I just destroyed Santa Claus and all you say is, “Ok?” I looked at my wife, and we cracked up laughing! I was prepared for tears! But they simple took it at face value. Do you know why? Because I’m their father. And my children trust me to teach them the truth about reality. They trust me – and that is something I wasn’t willing to risk in the future.

Here is our conclusion: We told our kids the truth about Santa, but we also told them that we an still have fun and pretend. The elves will still come – they aren’t real – but that doesn’t mean we have to turn into Christian Scrooges who can’t have fun! I don’t see anything wrong with that now that they know the truth!  It’s one thing to “pretend” when your child is innocent of the truth. But it’s another thing to pretend when they’re in on the inside scoop – and they know the truth.

So there you have it. Why we told our kids the truth about Santa Claus. Christmas is about Christ, veiled in flesh, Immanuel! We all know this without argument. But we also remember a man named Nicholas, who stood up for the person of Christ and realized that his money was not his own and showed his love for Christ through his actions to the poor. That is someone I want my children to emulate. That, is who Santa Claus really is…and I’m proud to say my children know it.