So, I told him, my 6 year old boy, the truth about Santa. He had been asking questions quite directly and so after much deliberation I decided the jig was up.
I told him that Santa is pretend. He asked why people dress up as Santa and I said it was kind of like Halloween - for fun. I also told him that we want him to know that we are giving him the gifts because we love him and want to be generous and thoughtful. That it is better to get gifts from people who care about you, than from Santa judges whether you are good or bad, then decides if you get gifts. We don't make him "earn" his gifts.
He didn't remember the gifts "from Santa" so he thought Santa "didn't know about me" and that's why he only gave him a candy cane and coloring book (the Santa who drives thru the neighborhood does this - ha!). I had asked me daughter, who has known for a few years now what her thoughts were on Santa in hindsight. She said it didn't bother her much, except that looking back knowing she was sitting on some strange man's lap kind of creeped her out. I feel bad about that.
He asked why we give gifts at Christmas. I told him it is because we are celebrating Jesus coming to earth and being born and when someone has a new baby, you give them gifts. I also told him about the real St Nicholas, who lived a long time ago in a galaxy (ahem, country) far away. I gave him a brief overview of how this man wanted to help the poor, who had no presents on Christmas.
He took it really well, seemed relieved even. I decided to leave the whole Jesus thing for another time. I realize now that it's not the magic of Santa I missed in childhood, but the true magic of Christmas - and I'm trying to figure out how to create that for our whole family now.
In case you're interested, here's the real story of St Nicholas
In my next post I share some thoughts for those who want to keep Santa.