And if you did, at what age did you decide to?
Santa is so pervasive, at least in the US, that there wasn't anyway to keep ds from being aware of him. Random strangers ask little kids if they've been good and what do they hope Santa will bring them. It's on the PBS kid's shows. Santa gets on a fire truck and drives slowly around our neighborhood while the firefighters give out candy canes. So he knew the story since he was 2. But I don't think I explained to ds that some kids really thought Santa came down the chimney and supplied them with gifts until he was 5. Then he felt like he should tell his friend that kids were being tricked by grown ups, lol. Fortunately, his friend didn't celebrate Christmas...
I did tell dd. I can't rememember how old she was. She seemed to have forgotten about it. At the time she understood - somewhat. I don't know how to do it now since she is older. I am worried about 'spoiling' it. We don't have the tree etc. But her grandparents do. They wanted us to have the tree put up as well but we have never.
There wasn't a time that I told DD, specifically, because there was never a time I encouraged her to believe in Santa. I have told her from the beginning that Christmas is the time Christians celebrate the birthday of Jesus, and other cultures also have holidays and traditions during the winter, and that in our culture telling children Santa is real is a way of honoring a man who lived a long time ago who loved children and made presents for them. However, there is so much pressure from other children and our society to believe in Santa that DD probably, at least sometimes, believes Santa really does visit every child in the middle of the night on Christmas eve. I don't argue with her about it, but know that someday she'll remember that I told her from the beginning, so I don't think it will come as a shock to her.
Well, she was a little confused because her grandparents leave presents under their tree and tell her it's from Santa. We didn't disrupt it for them because that kind of made them happy and certainly made dd happy. One of their grandkids that is 12 still gets a present. So, it looks like even if Santa becomes obsolete the presents don't.
I have just never lied to my kids. So we talk about Santa and how people believe in him. We talk about why we celebrate Christmas. And what the spirit of the holiday should be, and how it should continue throughout the year, not just on one day. It's just ... conversation. We watch a lot of movies and tv shows, read a lot of books, so there's lots of info out there for them. They KNOW there's no Santa, but they like to believe. :)
This has been pretty much our approach. We don't celebrate Christmas but we're surrounded by a lot of people who do. Santa is just another fairy tale figure in a large cast of figures. DD loves all the Santa shows that come on television in September and she thoroughly enjoyed "Rise of the Guardians." She loves the songs and decorations and going to Macy's to see Santa sitting in the chair. The only difficulty has been her coming to terms with why other children believe in Santa. A lot of DD's contemporaries really, really believe in Santa. DD has a hard time reconciling this. Why, Mom, why do they believe?
We told DD (4 now) all about the Santa story and how parents like to pretend there is a Santa for their kids and have their kids believe. We also explained how St. Nicholas has evolved into the Santa we have today. We also told her the reasons why we chose not to make her believe that there is such thing as a magic man that can fly around the world in 24 hours and deliver toys to everyone, because we didn't want her to feel like she had to be left out of "fun" because of us. Our first conversation with her about it was when she was 2 and we have renewed the conversation every season, adjusting our explanation to how well she is able to grasp/understand certain aspects to it, with each new year. The first conversation was after a trip to the mall and passing by the Santa setup. It looked fun for DD, so we needed to explain why she didn't get to participate because she is quite sensitive to be being left out of things.
We still do the Christmas tree and presents and a stocking, but all of the presents come from mommy and daddy and not some strange man who people like to make you think is watching while you sleep. We don't purchase any Santa decorations. Christmas is very much a magical time for her. She sings her favorite Christmas song year round and she plays a Christmas song book year round. I don't feel she is missing out anything. That was the most critical part in all of our explanations and how we celebrate the Season, that she didn't resent us and she didn't feel like she missed out.
We have always explained to our boys, 4 and 7, that Santa is just a game some grownups like to play. This year, my children seem to be enjoying practicing their critical thinking skills by pointing out why Santa can't be real. A couple days ago, driving home from school, one of my boys pointed out that, even if the reindeer could fly, santa would fall to the ground because the *reins* couldn't fly, so what would be holding up the sleigh? In our home we believe all kinds of things other people don't and visa versa, so I don't think that part bothers them much. We also have a lot of Jewish friends which helps. I do explain to them that its rude to tell other children who believe that he's not real, just like its rude to tell our Religious friends there is no god. I will say though, that my extroverted 3yo really got a kick out of running up to kids last year and telling them Santa wasn't real. At the end of the day I guess I feel like the burden is on the believers to get their kids to believe, not on me to protect other peoples children from a silly lie.