“Dad, Is There REALLY A Santa Claus?” (Republished from Dec. 4, 2016)

Even when you’re ready for them, some questions are hard.

The other night, during our post-bedtime prayer talk, my 11-year-old demanded to know the “truth” about Santa Claus.

Having smoothly explained away the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny in the past—did me no good at all.

(And yes, I know you can Google what other parents have answered, but this needed to be DIY.)

For starters, I pointed out that if she was asking the question, she must be doubting, and if she was doubting, what were the reasons?

She talked about how the Santa story wasn’t logistically possible. About the likely limitations of reindeer and chimney capacity.

But that’s not to say there is no such thing as Santa, I said.  It’s time for a different understanding.

She told me she wasn’t upset, and I didn’t have to explain, but, really, I did.

Your Christmas presents come from loving parents, relatives and friends, each of whom enjoys the giving. Each of whom is continuing a tradition of giving they learned at home. Each of whom was once a child like you.

Someday, you will do these things for your own child, or for nephews, nieces, friends’ children. You will love seeing the joy you bring. It will dwarf the receiving of gifts, believe it or not.

If you wonder why we all gave you those things through Santa, let me explain: when you are very small, and young, the Santa story teaches you to trust and believe in things you can’t see or touch. For adults, it teaches us to be generous without expecting credit or thanks. 

You completed the first part of the lesson: you had faith.

Now you get to join the second part: to be a selfless giver to others, not expecting anything in return. Not to give everything that’s in your wallet, but to give everything that’s in your heart.

You could think of it as everyone is Santa. Or no one is.

And you’d be right.

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