There’s a quiet debate that many atheist parents have amongst themselves when it comes to telling their kids about Santa.
On one hand, they don’t want to present myth as fact. It’s a form of lying to your kids, even if it’s all in good fun, and some parents object to that on principle. On the other hand, it’s just a story and the kids will eventually grow out of it, so what’s the big deal?! Plus, discovering the truth about Santa is like training wheels for God.
Leslie Rush figured out a way to satisfy both worlds. She first suggested it more than a decade ago in an online forum, but her comments went viral last year and there’s no reason not to share them again now.
The concept goes something like this: When the kids are young, they are told about Santa delivering presents to people. They get to enjoy receiving gifts on Christmas Day, and they can look forward to the big day just like many of their friends.
But when they’re a bit older, and they begin to suspect Santa isn’t real, it’s time to sit them down for a chat. Rush said she told her children it was time for them to become Santa.
“You sure have grown an awful lot this year. Not only are you taller, but I can see that your heart has grown, too. [Point out 2-3 examples of empathetic behavior, consideration of people’s feelings, good deeds etc, the kid has done in the past year]. In fact, your heart has grown so much that I think you are ready to become a Santa Claus.
You probably have noticed that most of the Santas you see are people dressed up like him. Some of your friends might have even told you that there is no Santa. A lot of children think that, because they aren’t ready to BE a Santa yet, but YOU ARE.
Tell me the best things about Santa. What does Santa get for all of his trouble? [lead the kid from “cookies” to the good feeling of having done something for someone else]. Well, now YOU are ready to do your first job as a Santa!“
Instead of the kids transitioning from believing in Santa to not believing in Santa, they change from believing in him to becoming him.
From there, the kids decide who in their lives deserve gifts. They pick them, wrap them, deliver them, and never say it came from them. Because “unselfish giving” is what Christmas is all about. (And Jesus. Can’t forget Jesus. But also not being a materialistic jerk for once all year.)
When Rush’s second son was old enough for the transition, her older son joined them for the conversation and big reveal. And Rush points out the big benefit to all this: “They are both excellent gifters, by the way, and never felt that they had been lied to — because they were let in on the Secret of Being a Santa.”
Brilliant. And something I hope I’ll be able to do with my own children in a few years.
(Image via Shutterstock)