The Bell still rings for those who truly Believe

Alternate Title: When your oldest child tells you they know the truth about Santa.

I knew it was bound to happen, but it still threw me off guard.
Earlier this Fall, I was driving Kate to youth group and as soon as we were backing out of the driveway, she exclaimed:
"We need to talk! I know the Tooth Fairy isn't real! I lost my tooth 3 days ago & never told you. The Tooth Fairy never came because it's YOU!!!"

And then she started laughing. 
She was so proud & thought she was so cool for figuring this out.

I was a bit taken aback & my mouth was gaped open. Before I was able to say anything, she shouted from the back seat "And, I know Santa's not real either!!!!" 
I felt like I had been punched in the gut.
And that's when the tears started rolling down my face.

It was the end of an era for Kate.
It was a good run. She will be 11 in January...for almost 11 years she believed.
I mean, she is a 5th grader...this is around the time when they find out the truth.

As the tears were falling down my face, I kept driving, took a deep breath and told her that she could not spoil it for her friends or siblings and we would we would talk more about it when she got home from youth group.

The tears were because I was mourning the loss of the innocence & magic of childhood. 
She is growing up up which is so fun to see the person & young adult she is becoming, but at the same time I wish I could freeze time and keep my kids little forever.

While she was at youth group I went to my computer because I had bookmarked some websites about what to tell your kids when they ask about Santa, etc.
One of the posts was this letter,  so I tweaked it and personalized it to Kate.

When she got home from youth group we waited until Claire & Luke were asleep and then we chatted with Kate and gave her this letter:

Dear Kate,
Thank you for sharing your discoveries & questions about The Tooth Fairy and Santa.
I know you've wanted the answer to this question, and we always want to be honest with you.
The answer is no. I am not Santa. Daddy is not Santa. There is no one Santa.

We are the people who fill your stockings with presents and pick out fun surprise. The trampoline that Santa brought 2 years ago was one of our favorite surprises EVER.
I imagine you will someday do this for your children, and I know you will love seeing them run down the stairs on Christmas morning. You will love seeing them sit under the tree, their faces lit with Christmas lights. Seeing Christmas through your children's eyes is magical.
This won't make you Santa, though.
Santa is not the reason for Christmas.  We have taught you that the true meaning of Christmas is the birth of Christ and celebrating Jesus’ birthday. This is the true and only meaning of Christmas. Sure, Santa is fun & exciting, but it is just a small part of the Christmas season.

With big hearts, people like Daddy and me take our turns helping Santa do a job that would otherwise be impossible. The job of creating fun Christmas morning memories and a magical childhood for you to look back on with a smile. Hopefully these memories will always remind you of how much we love you, care for you and want the best for you.

So, no, we are not Santa. Santa is love & magic. Excitement and surprise.  I'm on his team, so is Daddy and now you are, too. Now it’s your turn to help us continue being Santa for Claire & Luke and your younger cousins.
We are sad you are growing up, but we are excited to have you on our team helping spread the Christmas magic to others. 
We love you and always will.
Mommy & Daddy
P.S. Gramma always says….”If you don’t believe, you won’t receive.” We still believe in the magic of Christmas morning & hope you will too. I hope you keep hearing the bell. May you always believe…and remember that it is better to give than receive. 

So, feel free to use this & tweak this letter for when your kids start asking you about Santa.
Last week I gave Kate this ornament. (I got it HERE)
  If you've seen Polar Express you will understand the significance of this bell & hearing it ring.
I ordered ones for Claire & Luke also, so when it comes time to give them a letter, I will have this Believe bell ornament to go with it.

I want to make sure they always hear the bell ringing. 

So, here we are at Christmas....our first Christmas when one of our kids knows the truth about Santa.
It feels....different. Although I know it shouldn't. It's not a "bad different" It's more of "my kids are growing up and this is making me sad different". 

I have to say, Kate has been incredible...you would never know that she knows "the truth".  She went to see Santa with her siblings & cousins with a smile on her face. She told Santa what she wanted. Each morning, she runs around the house with Claire & Luke trying to see who can find the Elf first. She is doing her job & doing it well.

Thank you Kate for keeping the magic alive in our home.
We had a decade of magical Christmases where all our kids could hear the bell ring. 
It's still ringing, it just has a different sound....a different ring tone.
It's bittersweet, for sure.


  1. Oh my goodness - I'm crying just reading this! I love the letter you wrote and I'll be bookmarking this post for sure, because my oldest is turning 10 this year and I know this may be our last Christmas with everyone believing. I can totally relate to the mixed emotions of it. I love the way you explained it. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. I know EXACTLY what you're feeling this Christmas. My daughter is 11 & 1/2 and she was REALLLY questioning Santa about a month ago. This is the same letter I gave her :) Like Kate, my daughter is doing an amazing job at keeping quiet for her younger brother...altho he is 9, so I'm sure we don't have many years with him either :( Merry Christmas to you & your family!!!!!!

  3. Thank you for posting! Our years/days are numbered too. I'm so worried my oldest won't handle it like Kate's, though. I love that she talked to you alone first! I worry that mine will talk to her sister first. I have one friend who is worried about the same thing and is planning to preemptively tell her oldest I think after Christmas. I couldn't bring myself to do that, though! I love the idea of having the letter and bell all ready to go. Maybe if I do that, I'll feel more at ease knowing I have a plan! Anyway, thank you again for posting! I love seeing and hearing about how people handle this!

  4. What perfect timing! My 11 yo is on the brink too...it's so sad but it's another person to help "being" Santa. ;-) Merry Christmas!

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  5. I am weeping in front of my computer screen- this is so beautiful. I think we are winding down here too- my 9 year old has made some observations. I thank you for sharing this beautiful letter and I am going to follow your lead. Merry Christmas Mel!

  6. I had chills the entire time and now I am crying! It made me so sad yet so happy. Good job on raising a child who understands the true magic! Merry Christmas!

  7. My oldest daughter is just a few months older than Kate and we went through this with her last year. It was such a bittersweet season, but this year has been so much fun! She loves being in on the big secret and has been such a huge help. She LOVES being in charge of the elf this year and had great suggestions about what to buy for my youngest daughter. It is completely different, but still so much fun!

  8. it is so hard when the first one finds out! I will say that my younger one found out way sooner. its just the way it happens. Now mine are 28 and 25. One is married and the 25 yr old lives on her own. Smart, beautiful, independent young women. But you are right, its not the same anymore. Christmas is definitely more fun when you have children to help the magic of christmas! Its still beautiful, its just different. Merry Christmas Mel!

  9. What a beautiful post, Mel. Tears are streaming down my face from reading that letter! My daughter is 13 and has known the truth for two years now, but my 9 year old son does not. I feel sure he will come to realize the truth very soon. Christmas is such a magical time, I hope you enjoy every minute of it with your beautiful family!

  10. We are in denial over here about the loss of believing in Santa, there are no younger siblings to ruin the the surprise of Santa and we have not had the conversation yet, so we are going to fill his stocking on Christmas Eve and celebrate on Christmas morning. That letter you wrote has me crying like no other!

  11. Beautifully written. Thank you and Merry Christmas to you and your lovely family!

  12. Crying my eyes out reading this. A couple weeks ago our 10 year old daughter, and only child, announced she wasn’t sure if Santa was real. My husband told her that’s he’s real as long as she believes in him. So, for now she still does but I’m afraid this may be our last year with Santa and I’m not ready! This letter is perfect. Merry Christmas!

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