Creative Child

Explaining Santa

by Rebecca Eanes

Many families choose to honor the Santa tradition with their children. For those families, a time eventually comes when children learn that there are no flying reindeer, no big guy in a red suit, and no magical elves. With this realization can come a mixed bag of emotions that parents will need to help their child sort through. While many children understand it as the pretend play of childhood and happily carry on the tradition with their younger siblings and friends, some children can feel quite upset and even betrayed by the lie.


We are one of the “Santa families.” Santa left my children encouraging notes on Christmas morning. He left footprints of white powder across our living room floor. We made reindeer food and placed it outside before bed, and baked cookies which we left on a plate near our chimney. We listened for sleigh bells quietly in the night. I never felt that I was betraying my children’s trust. We joined in this fantasy together as we did so many others, like our quests to find rare gems underneath the bellies of dragons and journeys into space to discover unknown planets. Make-believe is an important part of childhood, and, research shows, is important for child development. There are other benefits as well.


1. It grows imagination. When children believe in Santa, they believe in a magical place where they can imagine all sorts of wonderful things happening such as elves singing as they make toys just for them and reindeer flying around the North Pole to get ready for the big night. Their eyes light up as they dream of the possibilities, and building imagination will help them problem-solve and dream up new ideas throughout their lives.


2. An emphasis on giving. Yes, there is excitement in receiving a toy from a magical elf, but not to be dismissed is the emphasis on giving that Santa teaches. This becomes particularly evident when they learn the truth and begin to share in the secret, becoming Santa for someone else. Taking on that role with younger brothers and sisters or by playing Santa to someone else helps children put the focus on bringing joy to others.


3. It builds tradition. I’ve written before about the benefits of family traditions and how they bond us together. Santa is a tradition that they can carry on with their children and grandchildren, providing so many fond memories along the way.


4. The belief in things we cannot see. To me, this is one of the most important lessons of Santa. It’s a child-like way to teach faith. Whether we are talking about faith as in religion or simply the kind of faith that things will work out alright even when we cannot see a way forward, the seeds of this belief are sown in the believing of Santa Claus. Of course, they can be sown in other ways as well, but this is a benefit of the Santa tradition.

1 of 2

You might also like.

Want more? Follow us.

Join our newsletter and get the latest updates!
Hit "Like" to see Creative Child on Facebook