December 12, 2013

Do you believe in Santa?

One of the coolest things about teaching 2nd grade instead of 4th grade, is that all of my kids still whole-heartedly believe in Santa.  Even the baddest little 8-year-old of the bunch goes glassy-eyed at the prospect of Santa not agreeing with his current classroom behavior.  I'll say, "I know that mom or dad wouldn't be happy with what you're doing right now", and they'll add, "…and neither would Santa!".  Really!  They kind of "hiss" it at each other like it's some teacher-Santa-joint-conspiracy to get them in trouble.  Forget sending them to the principal.  I should just put a picture of Santa up so I can point to it regularly as a threat warning.

When I ask them to write a story about gingerbread men, they include Santa.  When some candy from the classroom went missing (I swear one of them pilfered it), they were concerned that maybe Santa had snuck in and done it.  When their behavior is less than what is expected of them, they are quick to remind each other that "Santa is watching! Shhhh!".  

I believed, 100%, in Santa until I was 10 years old.  My parents were good at it.  And why the heck not?  It really adds magic to childhood .  It gives hope.  It gives kiddos something to look forward to.  Even if all they have to look forward to is just a holiday party at school, in Mrs. Darhower's classroom, every child deserves that.  In my elementary school, in the 1990s, teachers would jingle sleigh bells through the hallways the week before Christmas, and Santa would come to visit our classrooms.

The neat thing is that they brought this up on their own.  I never mentioned Santa.  I do encourage it, though.  I think that if they see an adult they (hopefully) love and trust believing in hope and magic and Christmas, maybe they'll grow up to believe in it too.  Many of my students are Christians and many tell me they are thankful for Jesus (a Thanksgiving project we did) and many say they love the Bible.  The age-old argument is that if you tell your kids that Santa is real, you are lying and then how will they ever believe you when you say Jesus is real too? 

I'm a product of parents who taught me to believe in Santa and I still believe in Jesus.  You can have both!

I personally think that, in a perfect world, there is a Santa.  And he believes in Jesus too.
As a public school teacher, it's always tough to straddle the line between secularism and religion this time of year.  Kids bring up Jesus and the real meaning of Christmas and I can't teach them about it, but I do nod along in encouragement to let them know I feel the way they do.

As for the lying bit, these kids are more likely to call me out on "Why haven't we played the math game yet today?" or "Snack! You forgot snack!" than they are for anything serious.  That's how it should be in 2nd grade because kids need to be kids, and I think kids need to believe in magic.

Along those same lines…what DON'T I believe in?

Elf on the Shelf. *shudder*


  1. This is the one thing I really miss about teaching 6th grade instead of 1st. 6th graders don't care about anything, and I highly doubt that any of them still believe in Santa. :( I am so sad that my Elf on the Shelf is in his box this year (sorry to freak you out! Hehe). There is something so special about believing in the magic of Santa. I wish with all my heart that I still did!

    People are welcome to do what they want, it's a free country, but people who don't teach their kids about Santa "because when they realize he's not real, they won't believe in Jesus either" make me want to scream. I was super annoyed at lunch the other day by a teacher who's husband wants to do Santa with their son, but she doesn't. (Her family didn't teach about Santa when she was growing up.) It's just sad to me to not give your child the chance to believe in the magic of Christmas!

  2. I think I was 9 or 10 when I found the "Santa" wrapping paper. But every year my mom was alive I still got a Santa present :)

    Last year a girl on my FB posted about an old lady in Target that was in front of her and her son in line. Her son was acting up and the old lady turned around and said something like, "you better be careful Santa is watching." This girl told the lady "I don't lie to him, I tell him the truth, Jesus is watching." I just wanted to scream at this girl for snapping at a nice old lady. And tell her that Jesus doesn't like people who are rude.

  3. I don't remember how old I was when I stopped believing in Santa but it really does add magic to childhood. My parents always made sure we knew why we truly celebrated Christmas but still had fun with Santa. That's what we plan to do with James! But I will never do Elf on the Shelf. I hate the concept and honestly the elf kinda freaks me out!

  4. Love this. I think it's completely possible for kids to believe in Santa and still understand the miracle of Jesus at the same time. And I also hate Elf on the Shelf.

  5. I think I was about 10 when I first realized Santa wasn't real. I don't remember it being traumatic when I found out.

  6. I don't know how old I was when I eventually figured it out, but my parents let me believe for awhile. it's great to keep that sort of magic and fun alive in a child.

  7. I was in 3rd grade when a few kids in my class ruined it for me. My son is in 3rd grade and I was a little worried, but he hasn't said one word and still talks like Santa is totally real. I know it can't last much longer, but I'm glad we still have this year.

  8. My 11 year old niece is starting to realize things and I pray hard that she doesn't ruin it for the other kiddos in the family. They just started the Elf on the Shelf and it was cute for one night but not sure if I'd remember to keep it up all the times.

  9. Last night, my mom and I saw the Rockettes. There was a little boy, maybe five, behind us and when "Santa" came out, the boy yelled, "I've been a good boy all year!" It was the sweetest thing. I want to be little again. I miss the innocence of all of that!

  10. I never believed in Santa, my parents never really went along with that. I never once felt like I was missing out, and when other kids talked about Santa I kind of secretly thought they were silly. (Let it be noted I never ruined it for any other kids, haha!) I/we won't be doing Santa with our own kids, but not because of the whole "lying" thing (although I'm not sure how I feel about that side of it, I wouldn't really compare it to "lying/not lying" about Jesus, haha). Mostly because there are different principles we want to teach our to be thankful to their parents for the gifts they get, how to turn around and bless other people with gifts, etc. We want to put into practice things like choosing 5 toys to give away to more unfortunate kids since they'll be getting lots of new toys anyway. I want them to learn to be honest people with good character all the time, not just at Christmastime, because GOD cares and not because "Santa" won't give them "stuff" if they don't behave.

    All that to say, I don't really judge parents who DO teach their kids about Santa and let them believe in Santa, it's just something we probably won't be participating in. When we were kids, instead of Santa and Elf on the Shelf (BARF) we put on a nativity play and video taped it every year, went around singing Christmas carols in our neighborhood, handed out Christmas presents to homeless people downtown, etc. I'd much rather do that than Santa/Elf on the Shelf (again, BARF). ;)

  11. I never heard about Santa except in movies...and a lot of Christmas movies tend to be somewhat ambiguous as to whether he actually exists or is more of a's as if they leave the real interpretation up to the viewer. I've never heard Santa mentioned in Malaysia--there Christmas is largely seen as an exclusively Christian holiday, so Malaysians who practice other religions don't celebrate it.
    I don't have anything against the guy, though--And I do get pretty excited when I catch a glimpse of a really good mall Santa, I mean the old grandpas with long white hair and a real white beard. Our local mall has a pretty high quality Santa--my 7 year old sister caught a glimpse of him, that was the first time she's ever seen a 'real life' Santa because this is her first time being in the U.S. for Christmas and asked if she could go get her picture taken like the other kids, it was heartbreaking to tell her no because of the $40 pricetag!

  12. This is the first year that Cullen is really in to it and it is so fun. Although, when we went to buy gifts for our Advent angel from church, he did ask why santa didn't just bring the poor kids toys too.. definitely a learning experience to keep it a balance between Santa and real life. It is so fun as a parent though to watch them believe!

  13. I now teach 7th grade, but every single year I have taught, regardless of the grade, I post "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus." I think that is one of the best explanations to kids about how Santa is VERY REAL. He might not be a jolly man who wiggles down your chimney, but the spirit of Santa is real, and I feel that when I teach Liam about Santa I will actually be helping him to believe in things that cannot be seen, but only felt, like love, freedom, AND Jesus. I believe that if Santa is taught correctly, he can only reinforce the belief in Jesus. Plus, how is it lying to teach your kid(s) that, in this horrible, sad world, there is love and that people do nice things for each other, whether that person is Santa or a parent or a parent "being" Santa, the basic principles being taught are the same, I feel. I will TOTALLY be raising Liam to believe in Santa AND Jesus because believing in Santa is really just believing in the idea that unconditional magic and love DO EXIST in this crazy, crazy world, and that is a lesson worth teaching for sure (year-round, of course, but ESPECIALLY at Christmas when we celebrate the greatest selfless gift of unconditional love of all: JESUS)! :)


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