Stories, Lies, and a Swing Set That Flies


Well, we made it through Christmas and my daughter STILL believes in Santa Claus.

She’ll be 8 in a few months.

How can this be? I never thought in a gazillion years she would still have this unwavering faith in the Jolly Old Elf. She came home from school one day and told me some mean first graders told her and her best friend Santa wasn’t real but she and her friend told them he was.

All I could say was “Oh?” while in my head I was saying, “Oh, crap.”

Because it seems we have drifted from a sweet story about a little old man who loves children so much he performs a superhuman feat on Christmas Eve to something a little less sweet. Something that feels like an absolute bald-faced lie.

Stories, Lies, and a Swing Set That Flies | Duluth Moms Blog

The Stories

Back when I was single, I thought it was crazy that people led their children to believe in Santa Claus. I told myself if I ever had a child, I would never do such a thing because it is basically lying to them and what would happen once they found out the truth?

Well, that all changed when I had my daughter. I don’t know what it was – something came over me and all of a sudden it was just so much fun to talk about Santa Claus, visit him at Bentleyville, and witness the unfettered glee of finding presents next to the fireplace on Christmas morning. Because it was so much fun the first time around, we had to do it again. And again. And again. And now here we are.

Lucky for me, my husband’s family has a story about a woodland creature that delivers a gift to only kids in our family so we have had to keep that up too. We almost forgot this year and since we had moved, we had a pretty worried kid on our hands. (Thank God for that unicorn notebook that fell into my lap a few weeks ago.)

But the fact of the matter is, these stories are fun and add to the wonder and joy of the holiday season. They brighten days that are otherwise dark and cold. They serve as a thread that not only ties one Christmas to the next but also knits the framework for happy memories and family traditions. The stories, which often come from our childhood, are part of our family, community and societal culture. They become so much a part of our lives we just can’t help but re-tell them and in doing so, bond our children more and more into our families and the fabric of society.

People have used stories since time began to teach, explain, understand, and entertain. 

But at what point does a story become a lie?

The Lies

As parents, we know all about lies. Not only the ones our kids tell but the ones we tell, too.

Most of our lies are pretty innocent:

“Who built that building, mom?” “A guy named Fred.” (how am I supposed to know who built that building?) 

“What are you getting me for my birthday?” “I don’t know.” (I have had the present for months).

“What happened to all of the M&M’s?” “Ummmm……” (I think we all know the answer to that one!)

Sometimes a lie that starts innocently enough grows into something bigger, and we have to tell other lies to keep the first lie going. This is where I am at with Santa Claus. 

“How will Santa know that we moved?” “He just knows.”

“How will Santa come down this chimney and get through this glass in front of the fireplace?” “He’ll figure out a way to do it, he’s Santa!”

“How do reindeer learn how to fly?” “Well, they just practice a LOT.”

Ugh. I don’t know how much longer I can keep this up. I find myself vacillating between fearing someone is going to spoil the magic of Santa Claus and hoping they do. But I’ve already seen that even when other kids tell my daughter he’s not real, she still holds onto her belief. 

What have I done?! I am shocked that I have basically conditioned my daughter to believe in something that is not true. It feels like I took advantage of her absolute and complete faith in me as her parent. I am terrified that once she finds out the truth about Santa, she will lose that sweet faith and not trust me anymore. 

Stories, Lies, and a Swing Set That Flies | Duluth Moms Blog

The Swing Set That Flies

Some of the stories/lies we tell our kids are just so over the top that the kids pretty much know right off the bat they are not true. But these stories are so much fun they add humor to our days and more treasures to our family memory bank. 

Right before our daughter’s fourth birthday, we ordered her a swing set. It was delivered in a box which we nonchalantly stored on our front deck. The evening before her birthday, after our little girl had gone to bed, my husband’s sister and friend showed up and they all worked to assemble the swing set so that it would look like it had magically appeared overnight. 

The next morning our daughter was so excited to see that swing set and of course was curious as to how it got in our yard.

“Well” I said, taking a deep breath. “That swing set simply flapped it’s long legs and flew all the way from where it was made and once it got over our house it sailed around and around, down and down, until it gently landed in our yard.”

I think she might have believed me at first but now we have a lot of fun joking around about how she got her swing set because she has grown out of the story.

Stories, Lies, and a Swing Set That Flies | Duluth Moms Blog

How Do I Get Out Of This Mess?

I’m not really sure what to do about Santa. I’ve let a few little things slip. We used to only bring her to see Santa at Bentleyville, but this year brought her to another Santa too. The other day, we talked about the Lego set she got from Santa. She loves it but was hoping for the bigger one. I told her that set was too expensive for mommy and daddy given the other gifts she wanted. Oops. She didn’t say anything. 

I am hoping and praying that one day, she’ll put it all together and realize Santa isn’t real – but knows that the magic of Christmas is. That she will understand that all her parents want for her is to have a happy childhood and happy life and that this was one of the ways we tried to do that for her. That she will know that the foundation of everything we do is simply out of our love for her. Although I still feel conflicted, as I reflect on all our wonderful Christmas memories, I have to admit they are pretty sweet and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

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Sarah VanderMeiden
A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, Sarah is a dyed-in-her-wool-socks Minnesotan whose life-long love of woods and water drew her to move to Duluth 23 years ago this November. An avid hiker, she loves to explore all locales on Lake Superior’s shore, snowshoe frozen North Shore rivers and go for walks in Duluth’s Lester Park. Working in Higher Education for over 20 years, Sarah’s greatest joy was to talk with students about how to navigate the challenges of college, what they wanted to do with their lives and how to make their dreams come true. After stepping out of this career to be a stay-at-home-mom, Sarah has returned to her passion of helping people achieve their personal and professional goals as a Board Certified Coach. To find out more about coaching and her background, visit or find her on Facebook at Sarah VanderMeiden Coaching . Sarah’s family lives in the country and share their five acres with a small flock of laying hens, deer, wild turkey, way too many mice and 10,000 honeybees. Sarah has given up gardening and keeping her house clean to pursue her many interests including enjoying the lake, singing, photography and spending time with her family camping in their vintage travel trailer or tickling each other on the couch.


  1. With my own son I found that Santa found his own way into his imagination. This in turn led to his sister who is three and half years younger believing in him as well. He is seven and when a very young child we never talked about him. Through stories ,songs,Christmas movies and Bentlyville he learned snippets of Santa Claus. We didn’t even take them to see Santa until Bentlyville 2017. His version of Santa isn’t the same as the typical story. Santa has magic to get into your house even if you don’t have a chiminy. He doesn’t know the names of the reindeer except Rudolph.
    If you tried to stay up to see Santa a Christmas eve you couldn’t because he turns invisible. There are others but I don’t remember them. At first we would tell him the story of St Nicholas the historical person behind Santa but eventually the myth took over for him and we find it makes him really happy and excited. He is not an excitable boy so anything that does is fine.

    • Oh, I love this, Kimberly! It is true that kids will simply fill in the blanks for themselves with their wonderful imaginations. I wonder how long our kids will continue to believe? Thanks for sharing!

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