As a child, when I first discovered there was no Santa Claus I was devastated! Do you remember how you felt? Perhaps you were wiser and figured it out before anyone felt it necessary to inform you. While so many people talk about the magic Santa brought to their childhood, I just remember the hurt and complete lack of trust I felt. I’m not sure if my feelings were amplified by my Asperger’s black and white thinking, but I felt so betrayed and was deeply upset all that Christmas day. I honestly don’t remember memories of Santa prior, other than telling someone in first-grade that there WAS indeed a Santa, even though I was called a baby. But wow, was I wrong!

Of course, memories we have impact our decisions when it comes to the same topic and our children. You may have had wonderful memories of Santa and enjoy rekindling them by recreating that joy with your children. As always, do what is best for you and your family.

Like with T, E and V will know about the real Saint Nicholas and how he inspired a fictional character and how that character was modified because of Coca-Cola marketing. I love history and sharing that passion with my children–so sharing the history of Santa Claus, because they will be exposed as he’s plastered all over, will be a joy. The girls, however, will not be told of the magical reindeer, elves, naughty and nice list, or any of the other wizardry or supernatural powers that comes with this jolly ole elf.

Dr. Maria Montessori reserved the idea of fantasy for the second plane child. While aspects of Santa and the magic behind him (or even her) varies country to country and family to family, the standard tends to be someone who wondrously or magically delivers gifts to ‘good’ children.

We do place shoes by the door the evening before Saint Nicholas Day and in the morning they are filled with little trinkets and treats. Does Saint Nicholas put these items in their shoes? No, mummy and daddy do as a way to remember and celebrate the memory of a wonderful and REAL person. They are told this as we talk about him and his kind acts, the same as we lovingly talk about and remember family members who are no longer with us.

We will also never participate in Elf on the Shelf. In Montessori, we don’t praise/reward our children so they are inspired to complete tasks for themselves, not for the recognition of others. Having a spy that reports back to someone who will then reward them for good behavior is the exact opposite of what we wish to do. Personally, I also find it a little creepy. But I do love the idea of children waking up and having fun searching for something. A fun morning routine to add to the holiday spirit. There are also some really cute ideas–not the ones where the elf is doing things that are inappropriate that we would disapprove of our children doing. I like to hide the wooden rings for E and V to locate, the ones that they use to decorate the tree. In years past for T, I’ve hidden a Barbie doll which the finder was then supposed to hide. Rather than a once a day thing, it went on throughout the day for days on end. Not like an active hide and seek game, but just when you happen to come across it after the initial morning find.

I know many Montessori families who decide to celebrate the idea of a Santa and one should never question those who choose to do so with their children. No one should ever judge anyone else’s parenting decisions (obviously as long as there’s no abuse). What works and is best for one family may not be best for another.

So that’s how our family does and doesn’t do Santa. Does you family celebrate Santa? Do you believe in the more traditional Santa or a modified version that better fits your family? Did you wait until a certain age or make adjustments?





  1. We also approach Santa Claus from an honest position. We told our son that in the memory of the real person, people like to pretend that He’s still alive and doing kind things for children at Christmas time. We encourage him to also think of kind things we could do for others and play Santa too. We have also told him that we don’t spoil the game for anyone who is playing by telling them that Santa Claus is dead. He’s 4 now and we’ll get more into the history and nuances of the story as he gets older. The Elf on a Shelf I have some strong opinions about and we don’t acknowledge it at all in our house. My son is capable of knowing that it’s just a doll with no power over him all on his own.

    1. Love it! We haven’t talked about not ruining it for others, but we have talked about how people believe differently than we do.

  2. Love this explanation. We never initiated Santa but our kids just picked up on it, music, books, ads, family and friends. But as soon as the 2E oldest started asking questions at 4 we explained st nick was real too long ago and inspired giving and that the other stuff is a fun story but not real. Asked them if they wanted to pretend and still put out cookies, that sort of thing. They said yes and it’s been great! So magical and fun still but they know the truth and will avoid the potential fall out and we don’t have to worry about dishonoring their trust.

    1. I love this! Finding that balance. Every time we see a Santa I ask: is her real and who was his creation inspired by? We also make sure to remind them that he’s still a stranger.

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