Should we tell our kids the truth about Santa?

The Santa question is almost impossible to avoid at this time of year. It came up again last week, when we were ordering sandwiches at Subway.

The woman in a Santa hat making our turkey flatbread asked my daughter what she was getting for Christmas.

“I don’t know,” said Erysse, looking a little surprised. “Only Santa does.”

Then the sandwich artist smiled and pointed behind us.

“Why don’t you ask him?” she replied.

And there, standing behind us — no exaggeration — was a Santa lookalike in jeans and a T-shirt, obviously on vacation in Florida. He put his finger to his mouth and whispered “shhh,” and then he winked.

Wow.

But after almost three months of Christmas build-up my six-year-old daughter’s eyes switched from awestruck to a skeptical look then she turned to me and said, “Is that the real one?”

Double wow.

Her seven-year-old brother Iden, an unquestioning believer, looked at me with a really big grin, as if to say, “This oughtta be good.”

“Honey,” I said, turning to my daughter. “”You’ll just have to ask him.”

Erysse is a little shy, so I knew she wouldn’t say a word.

Close one.

Will the truth hurt?

This year, in particular, Chris and I have struggled with what to tell the kids about Santa. He’s quite modest in our house. He brings us one gift and fills our stockings. But this year’s pre-Halloween push on the holiday has eroded our willing suspension of disbelief. Heck, we’ve seen his likeness in every mall since October, and we’ve been as far as Oregon and Hawaii.

It’s gotten to the point that our oldest, Aren, is seeking positive evidence to quiet the disbelieving. After his unsuccessful attempt to confirm the existence of the Tooth Fairy earlier this fall, our 10-year-old has set his sites on proving Saint Nick is real.

It’s not so easy to avoid direct questions when your son is trying to install security cameras around the fireplace and Christmas tree. Plus, we live close enough to Orlando, so the kids sometimes have a difficult time separating the real from the make-believe. Thanks, Disney.

Now the youngest two want to know how to tell which Kris Kringle is a genuine or a fake.

I am so tempted to make something up.

What would you do? Should we cover for Santa or unmask the legend? Remember we have three kids at different ages. Your advice is greatly appreciated and will be kept confidential. Unless the kids read our site.

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