Why Doesn’t Santa Claus Come to Pensacola?

I’m really kind of passive on the whole Santa issue.  Though we have chosen to emphasize the birth of Jesus and to not teach our kids about Santa Claus . It’s not a big deal kind of thing for us.  If you teach your kids that Santa is real and put extra gifts under the tree it’s not going to ruin my Christmas.

My daughter has always been told that Santa Claus does not exist, but some people pretend that he exists.  She still gets a pile of gifts under the tree, but they come from us and her grandparents.

It really hasn’t been a big dilemma until this year.  This year she is a little wiser.  She knows a little more.  She is 3 years old and will soon be 4.  Now for the first time, and certainly not the last, she recognizes that not everyone is like us.  She has been surrounded by the Santa story this year.  We have watched a few movies as a family about Santa (all the while talking about how its fun to tell stories about Santa, but he is not real), many of our neighbors have Santa themed decorations and some of the other adults in her life (teachers, etc.) have been talking with her about what kind of presents she will get from Santa this year.

She knows what she has been taught by her parents but to a 3 almost 4-year-old there appears to be an overwhelming amount of evidence that Santa exists.  So the other day she asked a question that took me by surprise.  She said, “Daddy, why doesn’t Santa come to Pensacola?”

She had put the evidence together.  Santa was on TV, Santa was on display in our neighborhood, Santa was talked about even by the adults at church, so Santa must be real.  So we told her again that lots of adults like to pretend that there is a Santa Claus and many children believe that he really exists, but that we had promised her before she was born that we would always be a source of truth for her and we would never intentionally mislead her.

In fact one of our core principals and my prayer for her every night is that she would be able to distinguish the truth from a lie.  Over the course of a few conversations the whole Santa issue becomes a great teaching lesson on being able to trust the teaching she was entrusted to and make wise decisions.  I thank God for it and am getting geared up for the next time we have an opportunity to drive home the importance of knowing the truth.

So then her next question pops up. “Are the people who pretend about Santa bad people?” She asks.  Because, you see, the only other picture she has in her little world view right now is that a long time ago a snake in a garden deceived Adam and Eve into believing a lie and that is how sin entered the world.  She also knows that she will be punished if she lies to us.  Her natural conclusion is that people who “lie” or, deceive others into believing something that is not true, are bad people.

Part of me is cheering her on, because I know she has a solid grasp on the story of the fall.  The other part of me is looking for a way to explain why people would pretend in Santa and take delight in getting others to believe he is real.  It’s a difficult positions to be in.  There really isn’t riding the fence on this one.  I either have to lie to her and say that these people are truly misguided (they don’t know that they are deceiving others) or tell her that some of the adults that she looks up to, do bad things just like the rest of us and that is the real meaning of Christmas, Jesus came to be born of a virgin, live a perfect life, die on the cross for our sins, be raised from the dead, and will return for us.  I went with the second option.

What about you?  What do you think about the whole Santa deal?

1.)Is it okay to teach your kids about Santa?

2.)Is it deception to tell your kids that Santa is Real?

3.) Is it ever okay to lie to your kids?

8 thoughts on “Why Doesn’t Santa Claus Come to Pensacola?

  1. We are awaiting a similar situation here in our household. Katie, just turning 3, has also started realizing that we are “different” from most of her friends, and some family…and the questions are slowly coming, the more she sees and ponders.

    We do not emphasize Santa to our children. Their gifts are from their parents and other family members. But we also do not try to pretend that we don’t see or hear about Santa. We are taking effort to explain why people talk about Santa (the history, the stories of old, etc.), and emphasizing WHY we celebrate Christmas.

    I love your daughter’s question…Why doesn’t Santa come to Pensacola?…so innocent but thoughtful for her age.

    I don’t think there is a “perfect” way to go about this subject, but I think if we do our best to teach them truth based on God’s word, as they get older, the other pieces will fall more into place.


  2. Margie

    I enjoy your blog! The last posts about parenting were thought provoking. :)This is a fun topic for discussion. I’m interested to see what people say. 🙂

    We play the Santa game to some extent AND tell our kids the truth. We want the focus of Christmas to be on Jesus as well and really try to always be truthful with them so they can trust us and what we teach them. We have a children’s book called,”Santa, Are You for Real?” It tells the origin of Santa Claus……”Saint Nicholas was a real person. He lived about 300 years after Jesus was born. He loved Jesus very much. One favorite story about him goes like this: Nicholas loved to give gifts, especially to the poor. Only he gave them secretly because he wasn’t looking for thanks..” It goes on to tell how he paid the dowry for the girls in a poor family by dropping a stocking of money through the window of their house. It says, “Saint Nicholas gave gifts because Jesus came on the first Christmas to give himself for us.”… Anyway, from this we have taught them that “Santa” is anyone who wants to give a gift and doesn’t want to be found out. They know that their gifts come from a real person that loves them and that it’s all a game. They can even be “Santa”. When people ask them what “santa” is bringing them for Christmas, they respond with the things they’ve asked us for knowing it’s all part of the game. 🙂 The only problem that we’ve had with handling santa in this way is my little guy telling people “Santa is dead.” What can I say? He’s telling the truth. 🙂


  3. Shelley

    jonathan, i really like your post. we delt with the same issue last year with carlie. there was so much going on that she really wanted to believe santa was real. it was so hard because it was all around her. i think colden is going through the same thing this year and will next year also. this year has been easier with carlie because she is able to understand a littl better, but it is hard to explain why other people lie to their kids.i have also tried to tell carlie some of the old stories and legends of santa to help her better understand. we are just going with our gut as questions arise and answering them the best we know how and praying we are doing/saying the right thing to raise our children in the truth of the Word. i know you are doing the same.


  4. Interesting choice of subject matter. Perhaps one of the more difficult matters you will encounter is teaching a child who thinks concretely to think subjectively about respecting boundaries and parenting choices that others make.

    The concrete thought process puts people all in either the bad people or the good people bucket. Since we know that we are all in the bad people bucket, it will be interesting to see how you come to address what it means to be a “good person” in a child’s mind.

    Amazingly…the longer I parent, the less black and white things seem to become.

    Perhaps one of the more difficult complications will be how you teach a child to still respect and honor the instruction and leadership of other adults that she will place in the bad people bucket.

    Just thinking out loud…

    Good post.


  5. Melissa Walker Duncan

    Hey John,

    I like this post. We have also chosen to not teach our kids about Santa, mainly because it’s a lie…it is hard though…both of my children are asked constantly, what Santa will bring them, and of course, all the decorations and movies, etc. And, it’s not just at secular kindergarten…it was at Coosa to, a christian school…they are very difficult questions…we have tried to teach Greyson and Sydney, that some people believe in Santa, but really, He’s just pretend and the real reason they have presents is because God blessed us enough to be able to buy them nice gifts as well as the real reason for Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus…glad I’m not the only one…you should see the looks I get when I tell people that we don’t do Santa…Halloween is another issue…our kids have never trick or treated until this year and I guess we just fell into the hype and Greyson wanted to…but, we hate Halloween…it’s such an evil holiday…anyway, I was encouraged by this post. Thank you.


  6. Kenneth Harrison

    You caught my attention a few years ago when we talked about this at NOBTS. Sunny and I have decided to do the same with our two sons, Micah and Luke. We haven’t had any complications as Micah is only a little over 2 1/2. my question is what do you tell her about the other children? What I mean is, do you encourage her to tell the other children that Santa isn’t real? Or tell her to let the other children believe if they want to? or just let children be children?


  7. pastorjonathan1


    Sorry so long at responding. I tell here that other people are playing a game and it is “fun to pretend” about Santa. We aren’t Santa haters… we just don’t play Santa.

    That being said we ask our kids to show the same respect for other parents as they show for us. We simply don’t take sides against anyone’s mom or dad. Each child is responsible to his or her own parents. By respecting other parents we are reminding our children of their own obligation of respect to us.


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