A town without Santa Claus

Last night was my semi-annual Girls Night In with three dear friends from childhood. If I described our lives in broad archetypal terms, you would understand why we always joke that we need to pitch ourselves as characters for Sex and the City: The Childraising Years. Yeah, maybe not.

We are so different in so many ways, we raise our children so differently, and yet there’s something so comfortable and perfect every time we get together. Sniff.

Early in the evening, one friend’s four year-old daughter sat in the living room playing with a set of holiday bendy toys before bed. It inspired me to ask her what Santa was bringing her for Christmas. Stupid presumptuous me.

“Every time a gift says it comes from Santa, it’s really from my aunt,” she explained matter-of-factly.

I bent down to her level, and then I looked her in the eyes and I said gently, “You know – there’s a very special book I’d love to read to you. It’s one of my favorites. It’s called Yes, Virginia, There is…”

And that’s when my friend, her mom, cut me off demanding to know why a child should be forced to believe some made-up story. Santa is pretend, the Tooth Fairy is pretend, and Dora is just someone in a costume at a theme park.

I really had to think about it.

In our family where religion is all about tradition and culture and not so much about faith, I totally get that every parent draws the mythology line somewhere different. I would be uncomfortable if someone tried to share with my children the joy of believing in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, and maybe that’s what I was doing with this little girl and Santa. I know it’s not quite the same, but…yeah. You know.

I suppose that I simply want children to believe in a little magic in life. I have strong memories of clicking my heels three times in red patent mary janes and waiting to see what would happen. I also recall hiding in my father’s front hall closet in his apartment, hoping that maybe one side would suddenly open up and I’d find myself transported into snowy Narnia. I was 10.

So I totally get that the man with the bag is not everyone’s bag, but I have to believe there are still opportunities for implausible beliefs and magical reality in our children’s minds. I want my kids to believe that there might be fairies hiding under toadstools, that somewhere princes still fight dragons, that some kindly winged lady will swoop in and give them shiny coins for their baby teeth. And yes, that maybe some big guy in a red suit somehow figures out how to get into 8 million deadlocked NYC apartment on a single night to eat some cookies and leave us some presents.

It’s imagination like that that brings us the JK Rowlings and the L Frank Baums of the world.

So I suppose, while I had no right in the least, it was with pureness of heart and intention that I wanted my friend’s four year-old daughter to enjoy the fantasy too. But she was having none of that.

I shrugged, my other friends shrugged, and we realized once again that yep, we sure do all raise our kids differently. 

That is, until I noticed the little girl skip off to bed wearing her brand new hand-me-down pajamas that she had just swooned over: The ones with Ariel all over them.

Maybe last night she dreamed of mermaids.


55 thoughts on “A town without Santa Claus”

  1. Until their nights have to be filled with thoughts about paying bills and dealing with in-laws, I think kids should have dreams full of thoughts about Santa.

    I believe it so much, I took the kids to North Pole, New York. A five hour, snowy drive just so they can stay children for as long as they can.

    Plus, its only a matter of time until some brat in Second Grade tells the kids that he doesn't exist and that tradition is over with.

  2. Oh I feel your confusion! (And have a post stirring in my brain about the same topic). My 8 year old asked me last night about Santa because his “brain demanded to know.” I tried to put him off by asking what was more important – knowing if Santa is real, or getting presents from the big guy. I think it was just a desperate attempt to let him (and me) hold onto the magic for one more year.

  3. This made me tear up. I know you're a “Christmas Tree Jew” in the same way I'm a “Christmas Tree Atheist” (with a tree-trimming Muslim husband to boot). This post crystallizes why I am that way.

  4. I love this post. And, being the sap I am, it made me tear up.

    I hope my kids believe in the magic of Santa and the spirit of giving for as long as possible.

    I hope they always hear the bells of Santa's sleigh.

  5. Ok so now that I am at my desk, at work, teary eyed I would like to say originally I didn't want my lil pea to believe in Santa Claus. I was fine with her knowing that Mommy and Daddy worked hard and picked, wrapped and paid for all her toys.

    But when I took her to see Santa, she ran to him, lit up and pretty much told him that she was a good girl.

    And my heart melted. So… We believe in Santa. 😉

  6. I definitely want my kids to believe in magic while they can.

    I also let her get into princesses and fairies and she wants to be a ninja too – I want her to believe in everything she wants at this point.

  7. I'm a hypocrite. I admit it. I have raised my kids always telling them the truth: there is no tooth fairy, there is no such thing as the Easter Bunny and Disney characters are man made cartoons.


    I take them for walks and point out butterflies as taxi cabs for fairies and mushrooms as magical houses and when it comes to Santa you must believe.

    I want their imaginations to be fertile. And I want their childhoods to be filled with wonder.

    So yes, Santa exists in our house where no such other myths do. Because, like the fairies and the dragons in far away places, magic exists. My kids needed a little magic if only to help cope with the reality of handicapped brothers and death. And if it inspires them to think bigger, dream harder, I don't see any harm in these tales.

    But don't ever get your kids to ask me about a stinking bunny that poops out eggs. That's just stupid to me.

  8. Oh for feck's sake Tanis, only you can make me sob and laugh at the very same time.

    Thank you for this. You put it perfectly.

  9. I want my son to believe in Santa…you are only young once and there is enough harshness in the world. I'm all for let kids be kids and Santa is part of being a kid. He's 8 now, will be 9 in January, I know this might be my last year. He still gets excited to see Santa and who am I to take that enjoyment away. I want him to stay young and unjaded for as long as he can. We still have the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy too. Soon enough this will all be gone for him and I will be sad….

  10. I can still remember that feeling of going to bed Christmas Eve with the absolute belief that Santa Claus would visit my home that night. And how, after I slowly figured out the “truth” about Santa and other fairies and mystical beings, life in general started to lose that sparkly magic. It was still *fun* of course, but never, never the same. I want that for my kids, even if fleetingly. And selfishly, I want it for myself…because seeing the holiday through their eyes allows me to relive that feeling, even if just a little bit.

  11. Santa, to me, is the embodiment of the spirit of giving. I believe in giving and helping others, and so do my children. Therefore, they still “believe.” Every year I strive to keep that spirit alive and forefront on my children's minds with acts of giving and imaginative ways to do so. While out running with my son the other day, he told me that it didn't matter what or how much we gave him for Christmas, that he appreciated and loved everything he received, and everything was always so special. This coming from a child who sings the praises of new shoes that are always the “best shoes EVER!” or wears a new shirt for an entire week straight because he loves it so. He does my heart SO proud, as do my other children, to love even the little things THIS much, and to want to share that love.

    I say, being a child is filled with dreams and fantasy and wonderment. Why NOT let them believe? They'll have plenty of years as an adult to be cynical and skeptical of everything, let them be children.

  12. Definitely a topic I've put thought into since becoming a momma. Raised in a fsirly non religious Jewish household, we knew that the myth of Santa and the Easter bunny were just that but my mom still has the letter I wrote to Tootie, my tooth fairy asking for my tooth back for a few days to show my grandma!
    I guess I have followed in those tracks as my daughter now leaves notes for her tooth fairy and I stay up at night to write return notes with my left hand (I'm a righty) so as to leave no traces of Mommy!
    Both kids know that all the Santas they see around town are people dressing up but I have had the discussion with them that they will have friends who believe there is one real Santa and that that is okay. My little Buddhist Jews have been warned not to burst the Santa bubble of their schoolmates.
    My stance on this is the same as many other “hot” topics in the momma world: I'll raise my kids, you raise yours … if we've got the same goals, we don't need to get there the same way.

  13. I love this post for oh so very many reasons.

    Last night I was decorating our tree – rather, I was redecorating it, after CJ had had the first go – and Kyle commented that we have a couple nativity scene ornaments.

    I replied that they were hand-me-downs from my family, and I'd had them on my tree as a kid, even though we didn't accept the story of the nativity as fact. I pointed out that I love to play religious carols too because the music is beautiful, not because I believe the words.

    We concluded that everyone draws the mythology line somewhere. And even for individuals, it's not a solid black line. It's got twists and turns and dots and dashes.

  14. We are all for magic. It's funny because hubs is Jewish and I am a Preacher's kid so the whole holiday time is kind of a mashup most years. We celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas and I guess because we are interfaith, Santa is a tough one. That jolly man makes it tough to talk about Christmas and what it means to millions of people around the world. So we talk about Santa more in terms of being the spirit of giving and let the kids decide what that means. My 4 year old thinks that means that all the Santa's we see around are pretending to be Santa because no one actually can see the spirit of giving. She's cool with this and loves to give them 5 and wave. Wierd huh – now she thinks Santa is like I think of God – all around us. I assume her beliefs will change over the years and she may come to actually believe in a roly poly bearded man delivering a bajillion presents each year. I won't ever tell her it is not real – but I don't push it.

    It's funny you mention Ariel though, because Sophia (4) and Miles (almost 3) believe in mermaids, fairies, elves, trolls, talking animals, unicorns and all such fairytale creatures. I'm totally cool with that. You know what – I sort of think I might still believe in fairies too. Something so tiny and beautiful and nature loving must be real!

    Thanks for a good read! I love to hear other peopl'es thoughts on this.

  15. I have maybe leaned on the magic too much at times, though I have cognitive dissonance over it because my mother thinks it is idolatry to pretend anything but God is magic. Also: Our Lord and Savior, Jesus.

    I actually scared my girl to death by telling her the soul sparks my sister put in a bottle were real. She woke up in the middle of the night wanting to know whose soul was in there. http://surrenderdorothy.typepad.com/surrender_dorothy/2010/10/the-last-thing-i-meant-to-do-was-scare-her.html

    So, um, yeah. Sometimes I get carried away with how much I want to believe there's more there than what I can see. We have a fairy door at the base of the pine tree in the front yard and a face on the tree behind the house. I tell her the clearing behind the lake near our house is where unicorns really live. And I sometimes even convince myself they do live there.

    Because I still want to believe there's something beautiful that hides just behind our human perception.

  16. I don't think teaching children Santa or any other magical being is not real means that a child doesn't have magic in their life. They still have imagination and dreams afterall.

    I don't remember ever really believing in Santa or the Tooth Fairy, but I still pretended I was Dorothy and daydreamed about being a mermaid or flying on a magic carpet. Did I think those things could really happen? No, but it was fun to imagine.

  17. My childhood would have absolutely sucked without the fantasy. I needed it. I can't put it any other way. If I had been given to to other parents, parents adamant about sharing the truth with me, I'd have been the loneliest kid alive.

    I can't fathom not thinking I'd one day meet a Gelfling (Which, btw, I did! My husband looks remarkably like Jen.) I needed to believe that a horse with a horn would one day find itself in my backyard. And I had to believe in Santa, but more importantly Rudolph because in spite of all the teasing, he was a hero.

    That's the thing. I needed these fantasies because they helped me cope with the bullying and teasing that comes with childhood. While knowing that sometimes a nerd like Bill Gates ends up on top and rich as hell, that wasn't nearly as powerful as learning that Dumbo ends up saving the day specifically because of his huge ears. Or that Nestor The Long Eared Christmas Donkey used his absurd ears to guide Mary and Joseph through a sandstorm. His ears were used to shield her from the sand. (Religious or not, I am not, Nestor using his oddity to save the day. That's what mattered to me.)

    These make-believe misfits were my heroes. Where others cared for princesses and mermaids, I needed my reject heroes. They helped me realize that my frizzy hair, the extreme overbite I had for the first half of my life (until doctors finally broke and retrained my jaw), my freckles, my lanky body—all these things made me special. And one day I might find I had these problems or oddities for a reason.

    The fantasy made any bullying all the much easier to deal with.

    Yeah. I needed the fantasy. The truth would have left me empty, facing unbearable loneliness.

  18. Liz, this is so touching. I understand how you feel and yes, we do all raise our kids differently.

    Before we had kids, I struggled with the idea that parents start out lying to them with the story of Santa. I blame the psych background.

    But it's tradition for our families so I obliged. However, I knew there would come a time when the kids found out. Would they be angry? Would they lose trust in me?

    That time came earlier this month. My daughter is 8 now and she asked the big question, “Is Santa real?” It wasn't until we were forced to have the very difficult conversation that I fully understood just how magical it all was.

    The trick, as they say, is holding onto that belief that anything is possible as we grow up… Everyone, no matter how big or small needs a little magic in their lives.

  19. Christmas is such a magical time for young children. I totally believed there was a Santa Claus, and it made every December so very amazing. I can also remember a time in firt grade when my classroom celebrated St. Nicholas Day. We set our shoes out in the hallway, while we went to the library, and when we came back…
    POOF! There was candy in our shoes. I so belived it. I remember going home, and trying it there. It didn't work, but I just assumed St. Nicholas was off for the rest of the day.

  20. I adore this post.

    Magic. Kids should be allowed to believe in magic. It doesn't harm them. They all eventually realize the truth. I've personally never heard of a person in therapy (or on a tower with a gun) talking about how damaged their life was, because that one kid on the playground ruined their belief in Santa at seven.

    My best friends son, doesn't believe in magic. By choice. His choice. He's six and he believes in only facts. He loves facts, mostly dinosaur facts. He's an amazing kid, with a great imagination, who doesn't believe in magic. That's okay. He'd never ruin it for his baby sister or anyone else.

    Fairies. Santa. Tooth Fairy. Harry Potter. Heck, even Micky Mouse. It doesn't hurt to believe in magic for a bit. It's a time limited thing. One I believe should be cherished.

  21. We're full on Santa believers in my house.

    Ironically, we've also already had to explain to our 3.5 year old that not all good little girls go to church. Thanks, Aunt Nancy, for making me have THAT conversation before she can really understand it. But oh well.

    I don't remember ever believing in Santa, because my older sister figured it out quite young and told me. She wasn't being mean- she didn't think I'd want to be lied to. (She figured it out because my mom was having her pick out a toy for a family in need, and she thought “hey! Santa should take care of this. If we have to do it, there must be no Santa.” So in our house, Santa brings ONE gift and the stockings, and Mommy and Daddy give a couple small gifts, too. That way I can tell my kids that Santa will go to all the houses….)

    Anyway, I've found a lot more magic in my parenting than I would have expected as an atheist scientist. After I rolled out a story about the binky fairy without thinking twice, I thought about why I'm OK with the magic, and I wrote up a post: http://wandsci.blogspot.com/2010/03/everyday-magic.html.

    (The short answer is that I think the magic helps kids learn the rules of life before they are old enough to really understand them.)

    Oh, and the binky fairy totally worked. We got rid of binkies with very little fuss.

  22. The magic is essential, somehow, somewhere. I'm negotiating Santa very delicately though, because one of her friends told her that Santa doesn't exist. Also, I was caught the last time I played Tooth Fairy.

  23. My children believed in Santa Claus, but I have to say that wasn't where they drew their magic in life. Some, yes, but I can't blame a parent for not wanting to foster that particular myth.

    I love what you said about drawing different lines for mythology. And I think it's great that we can respect each other's choices.

  24. This was actually a very heated debate we had in our ethics class. The question of why Santa couldn't be a nice story our kids could think of rather than a real thing that exists. My son believes in santa clause. I think that even if I told him there was no santa (at the age of four) he would assume I was lying. the most interesting part of the Santa phenomenon is when I see parents putting crying screaming infants onto Santas lap for a picture. Now, that is the magic of Christmas!

  25. I would have cut you off too. You don't get to decide what my child should or shouldn't believe and I'd be pretty angry if you thought it was ok to push your beliefs (here, about what's “magical”) on my child.

    There's plenty of magic in our house, but it doesn't come from Santa. My daughter truly believes mermaids exist, however, and probably has the same pair of PJs as the little girl you described.

  26. You're right, realrellim. I don't get that right. I said as much here. Although you're wrong in one respect – she wasn't angry. That's the thing with old friends; we give each other a lot of leeway, and we know that what is done is done with love.

  27. My children have known for years that Santa isn't real. But I have always told them that it is not their place to tell the other kids that he is fake.

    It has led to some interesting discussions. My kids go to a Jewish day school so he is not really on their minds during the school day.

    However my ten year old has told me that if lying is wrong than it is wrong to lie to children about Santa.

    I see his point and I would love to get into a discussion about “white lies” but I think that it involves more nuance than I want to get into right now.

    For the time being he seems to understand that everyone is entitled to believe what they want as long as it doesn't hurt anyone.

  28. I love every word of this. Every. Single. Word.

    Why force kids into the harsh realities of adulthood? Let them have their time of magic and fairies and make believe.

  29. We do Santa. We love Santa.

    I'm cool if you don't. But it kind of irks me when it's implied that I am a dishonest parent setting my kids up for heartbreak.

    There IS room for magic in the world. I believe it. And I believe we would be poorer without it.

  30. We're a mishmash of what my husband called last weekend “Christmas Jews.”
    We light the menorah, we have a christmas tree, we take a solstice hike. But we don't do Santa. As someone grew up Jewish with no xmas tree, Santa is kind of well, weird.
    But, I've heard about christmas morning magic and I'm sure it's delightful.
    Whatever works, right?

  31. It's funny. I've always told my son the truth – that there is no Santa, but I also told him that many children do believe in him, so let them have their magic . . . so to speak. And he kept that secret to himself. Bottom line: He could care less about the source of his Nintendo and Power Rangers so long as they were under the tree. LOL!

  32. I let my kids believe what they like. I've never talked to them about Santa one way or the other. When asked I say it's a nice story some people like to believe and they can decide for themselves. It's the same thing I tell them about different religions.

  33. I understand the points you make about believing in magic. I just can't bring myself to lie to the kids. It just rings so false for me to talk about Santa as if he exists.

  34. I'm 43 and I believe in Santa Claus. He is the spirit of giving. He represents sheer, absolute joy. There is nothing, nothing that compares to the happiness of a child. It is not tainted by the ugliness of the world. It isn't weighed down by bills, and mortgages, illnesses, job loss … Santa represents the way the world should be and I will never EVER believe that encouring a child to believe in that kind of magic is a lie. I respect how others believe. I just don't agree.

  35. I'll just say that I ADORE the classic movie, “Miracle on 34th Street” and it's message and we leave cookies out for “the man in red” every year. 🙂

    I like this post, both in how you talk about keeping the magic and their imaginations alive and how you and your friends choose to raise your children differently.

  36. Love the way you write and respectfully offer your opinion on this. It made me think about getting together with old friends, despite having (very) different beliefs and loving each other for it. It also made me think about how I was raised to believe in Santa and magic and how I now try to point out the Earth's mysteries to my daughter for her to attempt to grasp. I don't believe myself so wise as to know everything about the world and how it works. How depressing would that be? I really, really did believe in Santa when I was young and it made Christmas so amazing and magical. I'm so thankful to my parents for allowing me that. My imagination has always been crazy and overactive as a result and I wouldn't want it any other way. (Also, can someone explain why it's okay to believe in mermaids, but evil to believe in Santa? Am confused.)

  37. I read a really good way to explain Santa to kids that I'll be sure to use with mine – in that Santa is really the “spirit” of Christmas. It actually gives kids something to think about when they're ready. And it allows you to continue the idea of Santa even after your kids grow out of it.

    Hell, we all watched LOST for god sakes.

    So maybe some of us were raising our fists at the TV, but we're not traumatized by the fact that IT WASN'T real.

    Some of my fondest memories of my childhood are about Christmas. And given that I didn't have many and surprise, I love looking back. And surprise, NONE of the ones I talked to my therapist about for YEARS had anything to do with Santa Claus.

  38. Obviously, the only reason Santa doesn't visit the “Santa is a horrible lie” people is because they don't believe. Duh, silly people.

  39. I see no problem with encouraging my children to believe in that which they can not see. How is it (at a base level) any diffeent than me encouraging them to have faith in Jesus, the whole shebang? Is it real? It's not tangible. Some people call it a myth, etc.

    Faith in goodness, faith in magic, hope in miracles, what's wrong with encouraging that? Children are little for such a short amount of time. All too quickly they'll grow and learn about the harsher side of life. I want to keep their childhood as innocent and magical and pure as possible.

    And, if some little shit tries to take that away from my kids…watch out, mama bear time!

  40. My 7 yr old told me last Christmas that she wasn't sure if there was a Santa but that she had a plan to find out. She said that when she had kids, she wasn't going to buy them anything and wait to see if Santa brought presents. Then she would know. So the way I figure it, I still have 20 some more years of believing (albeit with a little skepticism).

  41. I say let the kids have their magic. It will be all too soon when they are forced to grow up and face reality.

    We were never outright lied to about Santa (or the Tooth Fairy or anything else). We learned the story of St. Nicolas and were taught that Santa is the spirit of giving at Christmastime. When I asked my mom if Santa was real, she responded, “If you stop believing, he stops coming.” Technically, I've never stopped believing in 34 years. 😉

  42. A few others have already made this point, but just wanted to reiterate it.

    I Believe.

    No, not in the man at the north pole.

    But in everything that “he” as Santa Claus represents.

    Hell, St. Nicholas is not a myth but a real person (who died December 6th… either 345 or 352 depending on accounts), so he is as much a “myth” as anybody born in the 4th century (or ealier).

    Yes, it is true that everybody has the right to raise a child as he/she sees fit, and I would never try to imply otherwise, but at the same time, I find it uniquely new phenomenon the great lengths that some people go to justifying their position, such as “Don't want to start out lying”

    Really? As I said, St. Nicholas was a real person. You as a person carrying out his “traditions” on his behalf long after his death is really not all that much different than say a priest that “re-enacts” the last supper.

    Remember, St. Nicholas did most (if not all) his gifts were given anonymously. By giving the gifts in “his” name, you are hence remaining anonymous in your gift giving, thus getting the pleasure of seeing the joy the gift brings w/o the need for “appreciation.”

    And I guess that is part of what bugs me. It seems that some want the child to know… “I did this for you.” Why exactly? Because you expect something in return (in the way a gratitude in the least). Fine. But that is your issue, and has nothing to do with being “truthful” (because I am sure that is not what you are saying the reason really is).

    Traditions are varied from religion to religion (or lack thereof), as well as from culture to culture. So my “complaints” about those that do not celebrate “Santa” does not extent to those that celebrate the season differently as much as those that partake of everything else, but “refuse to partake of the myth” for they are just as hypocritical as those that they are claiming to be better than.

  43. You know, i have a hard time with Santa because we didn't do Santa in my family, but I agree that magic is too important not to instill, at least a little, into a child's life, so I do my best to play along with Santa, the tooth fairy, and all those weird fantastical gift-bringers that creep around the house at night when I should be sleeping.

  44. I love this. There's a book Archer brought home from the school library called “Welcome Comfort” about a boy who doesn't believe in Santa Claus and then grows up to become him. I admit I thought the book was lame at first but then I realized what it was getting at – Santa is the personification of what it means to believe in magic. Specifically the magic within us. We believe in santa as children and then become him as adults, in a way we do. (Or so we hope.) xo

  45. I wasn't so sure about the Santa thing — like the concept, didn't like the telling outright silly lies part. But, husband told me the magic words to answer all questions, “it's magic.”

    All was fine with oldest son. He pretty much figured out by about 5 or so that there was no real Santa and seemed unconcerned, knowing he had plenty of loving relatives to shower him with gifts.

    BUT, second child? Well, he was much more of a believer than first child in general. And of course, he got stuck there. He came pounding down the stairs at 6 almost 7 and demanded to know if Santa was real. I asked him what he thought and he gave his now famous answer,”I don't care what I think, I want to know the TRUTH!”

    Leaving me there, cursing my husband for getting me into this and my oldest for having raised this topic with him.

    Oddly enough, he was told the truth (in a gentle, spirit of giving sort of way), was angry for a bit…and then the next year? He believed again and had to be told AGAIN.

    I think he needed to spend a little more time with kids like your friend's daughter!

  46. There was a 13 year age difference between my husband and his oldest brother. That meant he was told the truth about Santa was early. . he is SO enjoying watching our daughter get the full Santa treatment. He absolutely feels like he got the short stick on the Santa magic as a kid. I totally agree with you.

  47. I am one of those (few, weird) kids who felt duped, tricked, lied to at age 5 when I figured it out all out and my parents confirmed it. I felt so silly having talked about Santa the week before. I was a bit of a serious, perfectionistic kid (and am now a child psychologist!). However, in the end, despite my ambivalence, I have let my kids take the lead and they have explained the whole Santa thing to me in detail and I've gone along for the ride. It's so pervasive in the culture that they told us who the presents come from and how it all works at a very young age without any input from us. Incidentally, how do parents explain to their kids why Santa does not visit their friends who do not celebrate Christmas? Just curious. Seems prejudicial, but there I go, being too serious again 😉

  48. Good question Wendy. We're lucky to live in a very diverse community where people do (or don't) celebrate all kinds of things. The same way it's easy for kids to go “Santa. Okay.” without thinking about it too much, they can also understand the idea that different people believe different things and celebrate different ways.

    Can't we just say “Santa loves and respects all children, even the ones who don't celebrate Christmas at all.”

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