When is Belief in Santa Inappropriate?

My eleven-year-old still believes in Santa. Yes, he really believes, he doesn’t just pretend to believe to keep Christmas magical for his little brother or because he is afraid of disappointing me.



On Christmas Eve, my eleven-year-old calculated Santa’s speed using the following formula, which he emailed me because he is under the mistaken assumption that I think math is fun and like to do it in my spare time.

Step 1: 

Take 2 most recent cities on NORAD'S Santa tracker 

Step 2:

Look up distance between them

Step 3 (Ignore if you want KPH):

Convert kilometers to miles using online calculator. 

Step 4:

Divide by total time it says the trip will take (Minutes) to get Miles per minute

Step 5:

Multiply by 60 to convert to MPH

My results: 14286.564 MPH using two different tries.

He has no problem with the idea that eight reindeer can go 14,000+ miles an hour. He finds this completely feasible. What he wants to know is how the sleigh team goes to the bathroom. (I said they are like horses, and just poop on the roof whenever necessary.)


When I was three, I went to a home-based daycare, and the daycare provider had an older son.  One day her son, who was around six or seven, sat down all the kids at the daycare and told us that there was no Santa, Easter Bunny, or Tooth Fairy.  I wept.

I envied my friends who believed in Santa and magic. I wanted to believe as well, but I knew the truth when I heard it, and there was no going back. When I had kids, I wanted them to have the magic I missed out on, and like many things about my childhood, perhaps I have overcompensated.

I reinforce his belief every year with video messages from Santa I design and email, complete with photos of the kids. (OK, design is a stretch, because it is basically picking things from drop-down menus someone else designed.)  I take the boys to see Santa downtown, whom I refer to as Santa and not “that nice man dressed up like Santa,” or “the actor pretending to be Santa.” I threaten to call Santa every time my children misbehave.  I wrap presents and label them “from Santa.”  I eat the cookies but leave crumbs on the plate and convincingly bite the carrot left for the reindeer. I reassure him that Santa will share his cookies with the elves and that we don’t need an additional treat for the height-challenged members of Santa’s team.


I’m starting to feel like I have let this Santa thing go on too long, but I don’t know how to back off my position.  At some point, this faith might become embarrassing for him. But I don’t know how to go back.  I keep hoping that he’ll start to doubt the party line, but so far, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

I’ve heard stories about people who felt betrayed when they learned their parents lied to them for years about the existence of Santa, and I fear that my reputation as the family truth-teller is endangered. I have always strived to be someone whom always told my kids the facts when I had them, or the most popular theories on things I could not verify. I have tried to provide a household conducive of deep thought and grounded in truth-seeking. Except when it comes to Christmas.

At least I have another year before I have to figure it out, and maybe, by seventh grade, he will figure it out on his own.  Maybe I’ll discover that he was a better actor than I thought. Or maybe he’ll google my blog and I’ll accidentally out myself. I hope he will understand that I just wanted him to have the magic of Christmas.  






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