Keeping the Christmas Magic Alive: The Truth About Santa

When it's time your child learns what Santa is all about

By Emily Papa, publisher of Macaroni KID South Hills, Pa. December 14, 2023

It's the season for reflection and gratitude, and boy do I have a lot to be grateful for. This year has brought growth for me in many different ways and while sometimes growth can be difficult and painful, I am grateful for all of it. 

Just in the last few months, I became an aunt again to a beautiful, healthy little girl and got the chance to see what babies bring out in my children, especially my son. I'm grateful so much for that, along with friends, good health, and the experiences we've had as a family.

But along with the gratitude, the last few weeks have held some struggles and sadness.

The most difficult thing I had to endure recently was the day my daughter almost stopped believing in the Magic of Christmas.

It was a Friday afternoon when my daughter came home from school and curled up next to me on our big round chair that we lovingly call "Snuggle Island." She seemed to be feeling off as she wrapped her arms around me... quiet and a bit somber. She looked up at me with confused eyes and said, "[So-and-so] told me that her parents told her Santa wasn't real. Is that true, Mom?"

My heart sank, and I hugged her fiercely as I choked back tears. Even though my daughter was going on ten and a half, and I knew this moment was going to come eventually, I was really hoping we had one more year of the innocent wonder.

But because I knew it could be coming any time, I was prepared. 

I told my daughter I needed a minute to pull up a blog post I read years ago by Martha Brockenbrough called 'The Truth About Santa.' I remember it speaking to me, aligning with my beliefs as an adult who believes in the Christmas magic, and I knew if the day ever came that I needed it, I wouldn't be able to say it any better.

Tears were shed by both of us, and my daughter grew up a little more that day. It's been difficult for her to get into the Christmas spirit since then, but I am determined to help her find the magic again. In the meantime, I am going to be grateful:

  • Grateful for the opportunity I had to intimately bond with my daughter.
  • Grateful we are able to discuss hard things.
  • Grateful she identifies trust with me on a deeper level since I shared this truth with her.
  • Grateful for the ten wonderful, magical Christmas holidays we have already experienced together.
  • Grateful for the holiday magic we will create together in the years to come.

If you find yourself in this same situation soon, whether this year or in the coming years, I hope that you and your not-so-little-anymore dear ones can find a way to keep the magic alive together, too.

Emily Papa is the publisher of Macaroni KID South Hills, Pa.