I Accidentally Told My Kids Santa Is A Jackass

It all started really innocently, actually.

I was with my girls in Subway sandwich shop and there was a display of Angel Tree Kids, so I let each girl pick a child. They each picked a girl who was their age, and we began to look at the wish lists. Items like LeapFrog Readers and dolls were among the requests. We discussed how we would go shopping and fulfill the requests and then deliver the items to the drop-off location. Satisfied with our plan, we ate our sandwiches and talked about the holidays.

It should be noted that Emma was just days away from turning 10. She was starting to ask some questions, but hadn’t gone quite over the line into demanding the truth about the magic of Christmas.

Cut to a few hours later and a question out of the blue.

Here is a true confession for you all: I do not think well on my feet. I am the person who stumbles through awkward encounters with rude people by mumbling an apology and then thinking of what I *should* have said hours later in the shower. So, clearly parenting is a tough gig for me, since the majority of your time is spent bobbing and weaving through unexpected questions at inopportune times.

Casually Emma said to me (with Abby right next to her), “But I don’t understand. Why doesn’t Santa bring the angel tree kids the toys they asked for? Why do we have to buy them?”


I felt my heart start to race and the sweat began to gather on my brow. I started with the sputtering, “uh, well, see” and then before I could even stop myself, I said the unthinkable.

“Toys are really expensive, you see, and for people who don’t have a lot of money, they can’t necessarily afford Santa”.

“YOU HAVE TO PAY SANTA???!!!”, burst from my child’s mouth, her eyes wide with a mix of horror and shock.

“Well, not exactly. I mean, kind of. Not really. But, yeah, a little bit”. That was certainly clear and not at all vague.

“That makes sense I guess. Now, I understand why rich kids always get so many presents from Santa. Thanks mom”, said Emma ever so sweetly.

OMG, what had I done? I had left my very innocent and kind child believing that Santa was some kind of shyster who basically took parents’ money to deliver gifts all over the world. Yeah, that certainly would make the holiday season magical.

After all, what child does not want to have visions of Santa with fist fulls of cash dancing in their dreams? I could just imagine that she would be picturing the “cha-ching” of the cash register as she sat on his lap sharing her own Christmas wish list.







I Accidentally Told My Kids Santa Is A Jackass — 139 Comments

  1. OMG I feel so badly for you!!! Seriously, that is a TOUGH question!!! I have no clue what I would have said and, she believed it and even thought it made sense. That went better then I would have expected, plus in a year or so she will find out the awful truth which is way worse then paying Santa.
    We’re all just doing the best we can out here so don’t beat yourself up too much.

    • Good point Allie…as one of my good girlfriends says, “We are all just doing the best we can and it is better than average”. Words to live by! πŸ™‚

  2. I would have struggled with this question too! My inquisitive 4 y/o is already asking a boatload of questions about the logistics of Christmas. How does Santa have enough time to visit every house? Is his sleigh really fast? How does he fit all of the presents into his sleigh? My go-to response: go ask your father.

  3. Oh, gosh! I don’t know what else you are supposed to say though. There really isn’t a good answer here. I mean at 10 if you can get one more year out of her believing it will be a miracle.

    I don’t even remember what I told my kids. I really dislike this part of parenting! πŸ™‚

    • I have been thinking about that and when my kids ask I tell them that Santa brings some little toys, clothes, and food to those families because that is what they need most. Also, that Santa fills their stockings with little toys. Kind of what happens at our house stockings, pjs, and one or two toys are from Santa.

  4. So, I vote to let it go. You gave an answer, she found it acceptable and even translated it into her world (ie rich kids get better gifts). Someday she’ll know how the world really works. Don’t beat yourself up. Signed, thrift store Santa.

  5. We told my daughter that there are so many kids in the world that Santa can only bring two or three gifts for every child, and most of the time parents buy more gifts for their children because they love them and want to give them presents. And we label some of the gifts from Santa and some from us or her sister, and we have her pick out a gift for her sister. Then we’ll say that not everyone can afford to give more gifts than Santa, so we give more gifts so they can have more things to open on Christmas, and Santa knows what we’re buying so he won’t give them duplicates.

    • HA HA HA Michelle…you know that is not how I roll! πŸ˜‰ Yep, pretty sure that nothing more has been said. So, yeah, thanks a lot Santa!

  6. We’ve had this same problem when we’ve done the angel tree. My boys don’t understand why Santa can’t just bring those toys. It’s tough to explain.

    If I had Santa to do all over again, I think my boys would each get one present from Santa plus their stocking and then the rest would be from the family. I think that might be easier to explain.

    • I can definitely see that approach working much better Shell…because otherwise, it *is* hard to explain, right?

  7. Oh wow ouch.. Better you than me.. umm yeah. Let me think here. Ok the only thing left here is the truth. Santa is real, he lives in the hearts of everyone who thinks of others before themselves. Yes some kids get more and some kids get less, the reason is when Santa first came to be he wasn’t as famous, he worked in his area, doing what you guys are doing, finding kids who wouldn’t have a Christmas and making one for them. Usually kids in foster care or in homes where money is very tight for mom and dad and that extra gift could be the make or break on a bill they have to pay. But goodness is its own rewards. So while you don’t pay Santa to do more, you help Santa do all he does and the parents who can afford Santa sometimes go overboard in presenting their kids with gifts.
    Santa isn’t about the gifts, he is about the joy of knowing someone, somewhere cares about you. And that darling girl does not have a price tag anyone can afford because it is a gift from the heart.

  8. Well, it was a very smart question!! I don’t think well on my feet, but over time, I would have said something about how Santa needs help with all of the love and giving and Christmas spirit, and it is up to all of us to share in that.

    But. I wouldn’t have said that in the moment! My daughter asked me yesterday why the Santa at Yankee Candle looks different than the one at the Macy’s parade. Gulp!

    • That would have been MUCH better Tamara…so so much better!
      My kids do know that Santa has to contract out his position since he is so busy at the North Pole…all those people in Santa suits are official Santa helpers and report back to him! πŸ™‚

  9. I feel for you, Ash! I was extremely lucky in that Austin and I never had that conversation – he never asked, so I never had to answer. Not sure I would have come up with something more clever. After he reached a certain age and no longer felt the need to go sit on Santa’s lap to recite the wish list, we just shared a “knowing look” when Santa would come up. Even to this day, at the ripe old age of 24, we still share that “knowing look.” King of magical for us I guess! πŸ™‚

    • I was just talking about this with my friend Kim at dinner the other night…she, too, never had the actual moment with her parents. Laura said she doesn’t really remember one either!

  10. Leave it to the kids to totally catch us off guard! And no matter how “prepared” you try to be or think you’ll be, it NEVER works out that way! My son will be 10 in March and I seriously thinks he knows there is no Santa- I mean this kid is very rational and intellectual, he applies REASON to every argument. I find it hard to believe he still believes BUT I think he knows (or assumes) only the kids who believe in Santa get the cool stuff! LOL!. He can believe until he’s 30 & I’d be okay with that! So not ready for this conversation!

    • I get it Tracie…it is totally one of those “dreading parenting moments” for me, too! I do think there is something to be said for what my girlfriend told me her parents always said “if you don’t believe, you don’t receive”. πŸ™‚

  11. Thanks for sharing. I’ll be sure to either do Angel Tree without my son’s help or wait until he’s old enough to know the truth about Santa. You know, that Santa’s a jackass. Lol.

  12. This is why my kids do not believe in Santa from the time they are born. Santa is hardly ever mentioned if at all in our household. They know we buy their gifts (or as the case this year…don’t buy them..since they have been on the naughty list far more than the good list for MONTHS on end!)
    However, I love what you said. I’m like you and don’t think quick on my feet either with comments and end up putting my foot in my mouth far more than I should!!

  13. You’re so smart, I’m surprised to hear that you don’t think well on your feet. Kind of, not really, a little bit? Good bobbing and weaving anyway.

  14. I always use to feel like a deer in the headlights too when my now 21 year old daughter asked such questions. Hey, at least you didn’t say Santa isn’t real, which when pressed by my little one I caved and said those very words. So kudos to you for being creative!

    • Yeah, I think it is so hard in those situations to know how to answer their questions…just wish I had chosen a different one! πŸ˜‰

  15. I don’t think well on my feet either. Several timesI have pulled the: “That’s a good question. What do you think?” move on the kids. Mostly in an effort to buy myself some more time to think. But sometimes (okay, most times) they come up with better answers than I would.

    I’m glad Emma is satisfied with the explanation. And she really thought about it and related it to her own observations. So I’m just gonna give you a “Win!” on this one.

    • I totally wanted to do the what do you think, but I was kind of afraid she might go to a place I didn’t want her to go to in front of her little sister! πŸ˜‰

  16. I’m going to go with Emma is really smart, and since Abby was there, Emma figured it out but let you slide on digging a deeper hole so Abby wouldn’t catch on that there were some logical incosistencies in the Santa story.

  17. I had a similar situation when my kids were little and we had adopted a family. My kids asked why we were buying presents instead of Santa bringing them, because doesn’t Santa bring everyone presents? I said that we were buying the extra presents, the ones that normally their parents would get for them, because their parents couldn’t afford to buy them those. Whew! But by age 7, my youngest had figured it out and was telling all his friends at school why Santa couldn’t exist. Just great. We were that family.

    • Oh Michelle! It sounds like your son was probably just saving the kids at school from future heartbreak! Think of it as a community service! πŸ˜‰

  18. Seriously one of the funniest posts I have ever read of yours. I am laughing so hard, my stomach hurts and I totally needed to laugh. That picture almost had me spitting my tea. I wish I would have told this to Nico, Tommy and Belle. It would have explained a lot of the knock offs of the real thing they got. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    • HA HA HA AnnMarie! So true…it would definitely help explain the refurbished, NON-camera containing version of Emma’s iPod! πŸ˜‰

  19. We do angel tree donations, too, but I never knew they were supposed to be gifts from Santa! We tell our kids that we are getting something special for kids whose families can’t afford too many gifts. Santa still brings them something.

    You’re right, though.Santa is a jackass, what with his inequitable giving. My kids only get one present from him, and other kids get tons of stuff. Don’t even get me started on the Tooth Fairy!

    • The Tooth Fairy is highway robbery! One of the kids at our school got a BIKE the last time she lost a tooth. Um, how does that fit under a pillow??!!

  20. Noooooooooooooo! My heart goes out to you. So easily done though. Throughout December my brain was always mush at the best of times and it was so hard having to pre-think the Santa comments. Nearly bit my lip off when my daughter (9ish) said to her brother (8ish) after he mentioned in the car that one of his pals was questioning the reality of the big guy “Don’t be silly. Of course he’s real. There’s no way Mom could afford to get us gifts like the ones he give us.”

    • HA HA HA Kelly! I definitely think any doubt was erased last year with the surprise of the much coveted Kindle Fire. That is so true!!

  21. That was TOO funny! I especially loved the title which made me hollah and the pic at the end is hitting too close to home. Barbie dreamhouse, come on Santa! Bring that bad boy under the tree, please!!! I really loved this one and was screaming more than 3 times. Pretty good!

    • The Barbie dreamhouse is the most asked for item this year. I am pretty my Santa club membership dues did not reach dreamhouse levels! πŸ˜‰

  22. Maybe I’m a sicko, but I see nothing wrong with this answer! My daughter asked the same question years ago, and I immediately said, “We’ll, we DO have to help Santa pay for everything. Poor children’s parents can’t help pay Santa, so we buy these toys to help Santa.” She bought it, and actually, it’s the truth. Isn’t Santa really the “spirit of Christmas”? And that spirit encompasses giving to those less fortunate. So we are just helping Santa…after all, Santa has to take care of all those elves! How could he do that without a little financial help?!?

  23. Ugh!! I hate those tough questions! My oldest (11) has know the truth for a couple years, but before that she was relentless wight the questions. I got that same one several times. I also got “How does he make it all the way around the world in just 24 hours? It’s impossible.” and “Why does Santa look different when I see hime at different places?”

    • Yeah, I feel like the questions are just going to keep on coming for sure!! And I can see them being of that same variety, too! πŸ™‚

  24. totally chuckling at this! I love the graphic too! Well, kids Santa only brings gifts to rich kids…holy shit balls. Please tell me you are doing a follow up on how you made this right…please…cause I am dying to know now.

    • What do you mean made it right? You mean I should not have left her thinking Santa is a money grubbing as*hole? Damn. Off to figure out a solution! πŸ˜‰

  25. Oh God! This is simultaneously hilarious and horrible! That’s so awful, you guys! The thinking on your feet thing is definitely a problem. You poor thing! Well, it could’ve been worse! You could’ve actually used the word “jackass,” I suppose…

    • That is so true Stephanie. I could have used that word…like seriously, that could happen to me in a skinny minute! πŸ˜‰

  26. Oops! I’d have said the same thing though. My son was asking for a Wii U this year and I said it was too expensive. He was like, “Santa will bring it!” and I said something like, “Well, no, you still technically pay for stuff..”

    • Glad to know I am not alone with this one Amber! Turns out more than just my kid thinks Santa is getting paid! πŸ™‚

  27. Ha! Good stuff. My wife has the same problem with thinking on her feet.

    I told my daughter last year that Apple and Santa don’t have a contract because the Japanese Buddhists beat the Christians to it or some such nonsense when she started hinting that she wanted an iPad. I dread the time when such stories will no longer be believed without more proof.

    • I just read your post and I was DYING laughing!! Oh my God, simply brilliant and you can bet I am using this line on my daughter when there is no iPad Air under the tree this year! πŸ˜‰

  28. Thank god my son Is 12 and knows the “truth” about santa, he was quite put out that we had lied to him at first, then we explained it was to make it “magical” for him. I think he is still thinking about that one. We never win. πŸ˜‰

  29. My Frances is 10 and she just told me that she knows I am the one who moves the Elf on the Shelf. I cried a little bit with that one. I’m not sure how she feels about Santa and I’m afraid to ask her. I’m pretty sure she’ll play along for the sake of her brothers, but I don’t know how to start that conversation.

  30. Oooh. Tough one. My daughter told me she knew that mommy and daddy got her gifts, but now she is all over Santa and being good and him coming down the chiminey. Though she did ask, “why doesn’t he just come through the front door?”

  31. OMG. I was reading about how you don’t think quick on your feet and I’m nodding my head like a crazy person cuz that’s so me, too! Speaking for us slow thinkers, I think you answered pretty good considering! That was a wammo of a question to get hit with – yowza! I’m currently getting about 500 questions a day regarding our elf on the shelf cuz my boys (6 and 9yo) aren’t satisfied with him just moving each night. There has to be about 10 other things going on, and a hundred questions about each thing that I have to come up with “common sense” answers to. Bottom line, my kids believe some very weird things about the dynamics of Santa and his elves.

    • Awww thanks so much Beth! I feel like I did the best I could…as someone up above said it is entirely possible that I could have actually called him a jackass, so I suppose that is a win! πŸ˜‰ My 5 y.o. yesterday noticed that the Elf has a tag, and she immediately doubted its realness! Luckily, we got through that moment.

  32. “Santa brings gifts to everyone. You aren’t buying the Santa gifts, you’re buying the mommy and daddy gifts because the daddy can’t afford them.”

    From the mouth of my 4th grader. Sigh.

    • LOL Amanda…I would totally let you be in on the conversations around here…you could probably give me some help! πŸ˜‰

  33. Oh, honey, he DOES. He leaves them presents, but we are buying presents for the parents who can’t afford to buy them for their children, like mommy and daddy buy for you.

    * Now you have an answer, any of you who need one. Sorry – this lil Jewish girl has had a lot of time to think about what to say if the child ever asks. *

    • Love it Andrea! That is a great answer, and I am quickly filing it away for the next time I need it! πŸ™‚ Thank you!

  34. I think on my feet just about as well as you do! Ha! I fielded a ton of questions from my son about the tooth fairy recently. My stories were just about as out there. But thank goodness got the same “thanks mom” as you did!

  35. I would have been no help to you in that situation. I used to stress out about how I would explain to my kids that Santa doesn’t visit us because we’re Jewish, but they never asked. Who knows what kind of mess I would have gotten myself into!

    • Yeah, I would imagine that could be a tricky one to navigate Dana. My 5 y.o. is seriously mad that we do not get to have Hanukkah at our house!

  36. I have been laughing at the title of this post ever since I saw it pop up in my inbox this morning! I am just like you – cannot think on my feet. Thank goodness my children have never asked me that… I am going to have to start thinking now about an answer!!

    • Start now Alexa and be ready for it…maybe even write your answer down and carry it around with you…you never know when they will blurt it out, and you want to be ready! πŸ˜‰

  37. I’m so with you on not being good on my feet. Though I kind of like your answer…and might just have to add a few sentences about Santa needing to have some money to keep the lights on and elves fed at the North Pole!

    • See, if I had only added on that part about paying for the lights or keeping the reindeer in carrots all year long, it might have worked better! πŸ™‚

  38. Haha! Ooops! I’m also not good with thinking on my feet. And, I mean, seriously. How do you answer that question? And here’s another thing I’m wondering, how come I never thought about that when I was a kid and helping my mom pick out a toy for the Angel Tree? Apparently, I was pretty oblivious as a child.

  39. “I am the person who stumbles through awkward encounters with rude people by mumbling an apology and then thinking of what I *should* have said hours later in the shower” This is so accurately me, it’s CRAZY!
    I’d probably have said something like, lets call your dad and ask him. Or ask that guy over there, he looks like he knows! Ask anyone but me!!

    • LOL Xae! I am so glad to know that I am not the only one who thinks of all their best comebacks in the shower! PHEW! Yeah, if my hubby had been around I definitely would have made them hit him up with the question! πŸ™‚

  40. OHMYGOSH!!!!!!! You POOR THING!!!! That is the WORST thing about Santa…. I mean what DO you say? I know my fifth grader will open her eyes to the reality soon- bless her sweet heart, she STILL believes in the elf and santa and every damn imaginary thing out there- PASSIONATELY! I keep waiting… hating…the idea of her precious spirit breaking in two.

    I am a bit twisted when I say that I kinda liked your idea!!! Seriously!! I mean what the hell else are ya gonna say? There is NO explanation that works with this! NONE!

    I loved her sweet response. Just perfect! Oh too cute…

    • Awwww Chris, I love that your sweet girl is such a believer…I think that the moment of truth is a hard one. Kind of the end of their innocence. Sad.

  41. Hehe this is pretty hilarious . I too am really bad at thinking on my toes and I’m not quite sure how I would have responded. And I must say that was a pretty astute observation on Emma’s end!

  42. Hey I think you are on to something…maybe you discovered a way to keep the magic of Santa longer but also let your kids know he’s frugal πŸ™‚ unless you are rich!

  43. Good lawd, why do our kids have to be so stinkin’ smart?! It’s a blessing and a curse!! And Santa does need money to pay the heating bill in the North Pole so it’s all good. πŸ˜‰

  44. I could so see myself doing something like this!! I have always had a hard time with these type of questions because I don’t want to get too deep into the Santa myth with the kids, but I do want them to decide when they stop believing. I have answered similar questions with, sometimes Santa needs a little help. But I think your answer actually answers the question better! Did she say anything else about it?

    • Nothing else was said after that conversation Kathy. So, maybe my answer worked? Or maybe she is just pooling all her piggy bank money to contribute to the Santa fund?! πŸ˜‰

  45. That’s hilarious! I’m horrible with on the spot questions as well. When my daughter finally confronted us in the 6th grade, (I was concerned she’s start high school still believing in the magic elf and Santa) I kept my mouth shut and let my husband answer. It was not a pretty sight.

  46. oh it’s going to be so strange in our household when we bring up this kid. because my husband was raised in a traditional (very gift-giving) american family. whereas my parents didn’t even know who the hell santa was. your hilarious story (your kids are so smart by the way) made me realize my husband and i have a lot of talking to do before this baby comes out.

    • Definitely! You need to plan these things ahead of time…even down to the whole does Santa wrap versus non-wrap. Crazy amount of conversations headed your way! πŸ˜‰

  47. Pingback: Holiday Links for People Who Love to Laugh - Work in Sweats Mama

  48. See, I’ve often wondered how other parents handle this conversation because let’s face it, there’s a pretty big disparity between what some of our kids get under the tree from the big guy and what other kids get. I remember the year before last, I was not working (much like this year) and I literally scraped to get something under the tree for my kiddos. My son went to school to discover that literally every other classmate had gotten a new DSi, or an iPod touch or the WiiU. How come Santa didn’t bring HIM those amazing toys? It’s a tough one!!

    • It is SO HARD! Emma has a lot of friends who get very extravagant gifts, and it has been hard over the years to explain even that.

  49. Too funny. I am that person too, who thinks on her feet only when her feet are in the shower. Luckily Zoe’s not asking the tough questions yet!

  50. Oh god, HA! I’m not that great at thinking on my feet either. I think I am at the time, until what I think in my head comes out of my mouth and says way worse out loud.

  51. OMG, this is seriously hilarious…..but oh so true. I mean we really do kinda have to pay Santa! πŸ™‚ Thankfully, my boys are just starting to experience Christmas so I haven’t had to deal with the ‘truth’ about Santa yet. But honestly, I kinda like your response, I may just use it! πŸ˜‰

  52. It would not be a difficult thing to have to answer, if you were not trying to come up with a brand new lie to pile on top of the many more lies that are told, day after day in many innocent children’s lives. A fat guy with pet deer, that breaks in our homes at night to give gifts? A rabbit that lays plastic eggs for children to find? A magical fairy, that comes at night, to leave a dollar for a bloody, plaque covered tooth? Are we not the very ones that are suppose to tell our children that they are to be honest and never tell lies? I think lying to our children is wrong, hypocritical, unloving and ridiculously STUPID!!! Do you know that there are some adults that still have not forgotten all the lies their parents told them? That there are adults that have trust and faith issues that stem from these memories? Just something to think about. Just a “Dose of Reality” from one mother to another, because YOU don’t tell it like it “really is”. Hagd!

  53. Pingback: Would You Rather Talk Santa or S-E-X?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *