When Did Your Kids Stop Believing in Santa Claus?

Yesterday Elby said, “Santa Claus isn’t real is he? It’s just the parents who do everything.” I froze in my tracks. The twins are four and Elby is seven now. I seriously can’t believe it. Sure I’ve aged twenty years since they were born but still, it feels like I started having children yesterday. I’m sure a lot of you bitches are way ahead of me on this whole “when they stop believing” thing but NO SPOILERS PLEASE.

So I looked at Jon and he looked at me. Finally he just said, “Do you believe in Santa Claus, Elbs?” and she quickly answered, “Yes.” I slowly let out my breath and Jon whispered to me, “She better not screw it up for the twins.” But later I asked him if he thought she really believes it or if she was just going along with it to not screw up her chances of getting everything on her list. Which is long.

Jon thinks this is around the time they stop believing which makes sense since they have to have a sneaking suspicion that a fat guy climbing down the chimney not to mention being everywhere in the world at once doesn’t make a whole lot of sense but it also kind of bums me out. They only start really understanding the concept around the age of four so if they stop believing at seven we only have a couple of good years to carry on the Santa myth. I didn’t know it would be over so quickly! I feel like I have to really make the most out of the next two Christmases because I have a bad feeling that once Elby is truly onto us, we’re dead -discretion isn’t her strong suit.

There’s also the issue that a lot of her friends don’t even celebrate Christmas because they’re heathens…I mean, Jews. Okay, I’m Jewish too but not Jewish enough to keep me from celebrating Christmas. That’s really a whole ‘nother story for another post. The point is, how does one explain to a kid why Santa doesn’t come to the houses of the kids who celebrate Hanukkah? Do we just tell them the truth that all Jews are on the naughty list? But then what about Kwanzaa (if that’s even a real holiday)? Are we to believe that Santa is a racist? It seems like a very complicated issue.

I’m going to try not to over think it and just enjoy the season. I’m going to cram their brains full of Rudolph, Frost, Christmas lights and Christmas carols and let them bake cookies and believe. Just for today.

By the way, if you want to read the What Not To Get the Kids For Christmas list I’ve compiled, it’s here. If you like it, share it.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on December 15, 2011 12:34 amUncategorized11 comments  


  1. rebecca said,

    I was in the third grade, which is kinda old, I think and it felt like someone hit me in the chest and all the air just deflated out of my body. I was so sad for a bit.

    My best friend’s grandmother put out stockings for all the grand kids every single Christmas, even when the grand kids were in their late 20’s. She did it until she was so old she could no longer breathe. That first Christmas without her was sad for my friends family because she did “Santa” for everyone in the family. And nobody dared to tell her there was no Santa.
    rebecca´s last blog post ..What Concerns Me

    | December 15, 2011 @ 1:15 am

  2. Cheryl said,

    Oh Stef, this one breaks my heart…and how much harder for you with an elder Elby to the twins.

    Here was our heartbreaking take on the whole “break it to ’em.” My man had GREAT insight…maybe it will help in the DISTANT future when you need to do the reveal. http://twinfatuation.blogspot.com/2011/11/un-merry-mythbusting.html

    Sorry I’ve been a lame commenter…still peeking in often, and wishing you and yours well!
    Cheryl´s last blog post ..A Tale of Trees…and Christmas

    | December 15, 2011 @ 4:24 am

  3. Arnebya @whatnowandwhy said,

    First, I burst out laughing at (if that’s even a real holiday). And then I frowned b/c I know you had to qualify it before all the Kwanzaa-anians protested your lack of sensitivity, but still. I like it better when we say things and leave them and people are supposed to just know. Ugh. Whatever. I celebrate Kwanzaa and Christmas. Greedy, I am.

    My middle girl is 8, third grade, and still believes. At least, she seems to want to believe, to hold onto the magic of there actually being a Santa. I don’t answer questions about him directly; I deflect to her and ask what she thinks just like it happened w/you. I’m in no hurry to explain we’ve been lying since she was born.
    Arnebya @whatnowandwhy´s last blog post ..Writer’s Workshop: What’s Changed?

    | December 15, 2011 @ 1:31 pm

  4. Susan said,

    My mom sent me an email yesterday that I want to pass on. It is so fitting…
    Santa Claus and Grandma

    “I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: “There is no Santa Claus,” she jeered. “Even dummies know that!”

    My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her “world-famous” cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so. It had to be true.

    Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. “No Santa Claus?” she snorted….”Ridiculous! Don’t believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad!! Now, put on your coat, and let’s go.”

    “Go? Go where, Grandma?” I asked. I hadn’t even finished my second world-famous cinnamon bun. “Where” turned out to be Kerby’s General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days. “Take this money,” she said, “and buy something for someone who needs it. I’ll wait for you in the car.” Then she turned and walked out of Kerby’s.

    I was only eight years old. I’d often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping.

    For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for.

    I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church.

    I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock’s grade-two class. Bobby Decker didn’t have a coat. I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn’t have a cough; he didn’t have a good coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat!

    I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that.

    “Is this a Christmas present for someone?” the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down. “Yes, ma’am,” I replied shyly. “It’s for Bobby.”

    The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good winter coat. I didn’t get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.

    That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, “To Bobby, >From Santa Claus” on it.

    Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker’s house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa’s helpers.

    Grandma parked down the street from Bobby’s house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. “All right, Santa Claus,” she whispered, “get going.”

    I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma.

    Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.

    Fifty years haven’t dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker’s bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were — ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.

    I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95.”

    | December 15, 2011 @ 3:31 pm

  5. Marta said,

    Okay I’m terrified of when my son figures out the whole secret. He’s 4.5 so it would be early, but he’s already asked some pointed questions and I’m an awful liar so I barely was able to pull a plausible excuse by him. Example: He saw (briefly because I immediately slammed the trunk shut) in his dad’s car a gift for his sister. He asked lots of questions about it and then started crying because we had no good reason. Some lovely things I said, “Maybe it was too heavy for the elves to carry so they were waiting for someone else to pick it up” or “maybe the trunk is a magic portal to the North Pole”

    I also think he was mostly upset that the not well hidden gift was for his sister and not him. His sister who isn’t even 18 months old so he better not blow the secret for her anytime soon!
    Marta´s last blog post ..Tradition.

    | December 15, 2011 @ 11:23 pm

  6. Mya Maternity said,

    My son has already figured it out and he is almost 6. He noticed when we started going to the mall to buy presents and there was a santa at everyone and he started asking and eventually figured it out.

    | December 16, 2011 @ 9:46 pm

  7. Renee said,

    I think it’s not so much when they stop believing as what you choose to do about it. I clung to the whole “Santa” thing as long as possible-pretty sure my bubble got popped in 4th or 5th grade. So I was probably 9 or 10. I don’t remember being disappointed there was no Santa, however. After the big unveil, my parents just started putting presents under the tree when they bought them. They’d sit there for weeks until Christmas-which was, of course, only observed after coffee. There was no…I guess “magic” is the word I’m looking for.

    This year, my 8 year old discovered the “truth” about Santa. She wants to help put out presents this year…and has been strictly sworn to secrecy as regards her 6 year old brother. Even after Santa no longer visits, however, presents will remain hidden. Cookies will be put on the table for Daddy to consume while assembling bikes at suppertime. (After many, many years of working the holiday, we’ve just decided Santa hits our house first Christmas Eve.) We’ll do what we can to keep Christmas magic, even when there’s no magical fat man there to do it for us.

    After all, isn’t that what really good parents do?

    | December 19, 2011 @ 5:13 am

  8. Lonni said,

    We told our daughter last year after Christmas (she was 7). She started hearing things at school and started putting it all together- like why was that present in mom’s closet before Santa even came (clearly I’m not very stealth). She was SO excited to be part of the SOS (secret of Santa). It’s made her feel like a big kid. This year anytime we mention Santa she does a BIG obvious wink- which we keep telling her to tone it down so her 6 year old brother doesn’t catch on.

    | December 20, 2011 @ 12:39 pm

  9. The Woman Formerly Known As Beautiful said,

    Stefanie — We are having our own Santa drama over here with my 9 year old who is using Santa (whom she expects is us) to extort a lot of loot out of us. I never leave links in comments, but I suspect this will interest you….


    | December 20, 2011 @ 5:57 pm

  10. Linda said,

    My 8 year old grandson came home from school a couple of weeks ago and said he had been told by classmates that there is no Santa. He even went so far as to say “Mom, don’t lie to me!”. So, my daughter did what ever good mother does, she looked him in the face. Lied, and then made him watch “The Polar Express”. LOL!

    | December 21, 2011 @ 5:53 pm

  11. Kelly said,

    My Mom always said that as long as you believe in Santa, then he will always come for you.

    At 38, I still get a stocking filled from Santa. In fact we all do. My husband, my Dad, my sister, her husband and all the grandkids.

    When my oldest, 19, started questioning, I told her the same thing. “If you don’t believe, then Santa won’t come.” She believes still as well. 🙂
    Kelly´s last blog post ..A Sweet Gift.

    | December 24, 2011 @ 4:26 pm

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