Santa Claus and Other White Lies We Tell Our Kids

One year.

With good reason, I’ve never been able to legitimately process the double standard of leading a child to believe in Santa Claus while at the same time teaching them not to lie.

It’s interesting how far we have had to stretch the lies, just like with any outrageous falsehood, in order to keep kids believing.

“How does Santa fit down the chimney? How does he fit all the toys in his sleigh? How does he travel the whole world overnight?”

(Insert ridiculous answers here.)

Yes, the legend of Santa Claus was born of Christian folklore, so as a predominately Christian nation, we can rest assured knowing that jolly ole St. Nick has accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. He has been confirmed, baptized, and even has a tattoo of John 3:16 on his arm.

Yet we can’t deny that in the way John Lennon once infamously claimed that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus, the fame of Santa arguably is greater than the actual reason Christmas came to be celebrated in the first place: the birth of Jesus as the prophesied Messiah of the Old Testament.

But can we really get caught up in this particular double standard? Aren’t there other white lies we tell our kids to either A) comfort them or B) entertain them? Yup.

A very traditional white lie I’ve heard parents tell their kids is that when a loved one dies, in particular a grandparent, that person becomes an angel who watches over them in Heaven.

Sorry, the Bible doesn’t say that. I don’t know of any popular religion that actually does.

Besides, what does that even mean? How does Grandpa Murphy “watch over” your kid? Does he part the clouds, look down and see little Jaxon about to run over a stick while riding his bike, so Grandpa sends a few of his buddy angels to kick the stick out of the way just in time, saving Jaxon from crashing his bike?

Sure, the Bible says that there are guardian angels, but we don’t actually become them ourselves after entering Heaven. So it’s a white lie.

It’s a similar thing when a beloved pet dies. Yeah, all dogs go to Heaven, just like that movie that came out when I was in 2nd grade. Cats? Yeah, them too. The goldfish? That’s debatable. Now, let’s stop asking so many questions and finish eating this delicious Hamburger Helper dinner.

Don’t worry, we “helped” that cow go to Heaven quicker and meet all his cow family that were part of those burgers we grilled out last weekend.

Image: Traditional Santa Clause via Shutterstock.

Unexpected Bonus!

Want to read more on the subject? Today I am giving away a copy of the new book, Christmas is Not Your Birthday, to one lucky and curious reader. The book’s author, Mike Slaughter, is the lead pastor of Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Tipp City, Ohio.

Through his church’s annual Christmas Miracle Offering, over $5 million has been raised for humanitarian relief in Darfur. If you ask me, this guy sounds like a real life Santa Claus. Not one that gives toys to kids, but instead someone who helps keep them from dying.

Just be the first person to A) leave a comment on this post saying you want it and B) send me an email including your mailing address to

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  1. by Megan

    On December 3, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    Growing up I never believed in Santa Claus. My parents refused to lie to me. So I thought I would do the same thing with my daughter. But, here we are telling her Santa will bring her toys if she’s a good girl, and letting her write him a letter. Only to have all that come crashing down in about 4 more years. I don’t know if it will be worth it, but the excitement on her face when she saw Santa throwing candy in the Christmas parade tonight…..That was definitely worth it, at least for this year :)

  2. by Jim Woods

    On December 4, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    Great post Nick. I struggle with the whole Santa ordeal with my daughter. Whether or not we realize it, Santa is in about 95-99% of all things Christmas. I am tempted to tell her Santa tells others about baby Jesus and we give gifts because of the wise men giving gifts to baby Jesus.

    Last year we made a birthday cake for Jesus, and this is something we will do each year.

  3. by Nick Shell

    On December 4, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    Honestly, Jim, after publishing this, I’m seriously considering nixing Santa…

  4. by Rehana Allsup

    On December 5, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    I know km not the first to post but I would like the book if the other people did not request it. My husband and I battle this issue every year with my mom. She deeply desires us to tell our kids about Santa but one, we want it all about Jesus and two, we do not desire to lie to them. Thank you for this article.

  5. by don

    On May 1, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Don’t forget this white lie: Of course you’re not getting on my nerves.