When You Don’t Believe in Santa Anymore: A Letter to My Oldest

My sweet girl,

I remember your first Christmas so well. We were brand new parents, and you were just a few months old. We were so excited and you were just content being snuggled. We got you a few things “from Santa” because we felt like we should, but you never knew the difference.

I remember when you were two, we started talking to you about Santa. We showed you pictures and watched movies. You knew you had to be a big girl so Santa could bring you lots of toys! But really, you didn’t care so much. Because, well, you were two.

I remember when you were three, and that’s when you really started to understand. And the magic of it all sparkled in your eyes. The workshop, the elves, the reindeer, you were mesmerized. You could be in the middle of a tantrum and if I said “Santa’s watching!” you would dry up your tears and your crying. It was magic for you, but it was magic for us too.

I remember when you were four, and you had me write your first Christmas list for you- tea sets, princess dresses, and baby dolls. You sat with a big crayon between your chubby fingers, drawing pictures of all the toys you wanted Santa to bring. When Christmas morning came, you woke us up and we walked in to a room set up perfectly, full of gifts for you and your baby sisters. You had already taught them all about Santa and Christmas and the perfect magic of it all. Daddy and I sat in piles of wrapping paper and bags and boxes, eating cinnamon rolls and drinking coffee and soaking up all the delicious giggles. We put together toys and tried on clothes and read new books. You loved every second of it. And so did we.

By the time you were eight, you had the beautiful perfectly imperfect penmanship of a third grader, and with your unsteady hand, as carefully as you could, you printed exactly what you wanted from Santa. The big day came and as if he read your mind, there it was. Everything you wanted and more. You jumped and screamed threw your arms around us. And again, just as we had seven times before, we sat in the mountain of cardboard and crumpled paper and this time we watched you brush your sweet new doll’s hair. You played with two of your sisters in a blur of Christmas perfection around us. I curled up on the couch with your baby sister and knew I was watching the cycle start again right in front of my eyes.

Last year, at nine years old, you were in the thick of it. You were old enough to ask us when we would go on one of our “hot cocoa and Christmas lights” rides around the city, looking for the best of the best decorated houses. You designated a first, second, and third place winner. You would come running out of your room with your sisters every morning after Thanksgiving looking for “Nelly” our elf, hoping she got into some kind of mischief while you slept. And on Christmas morning, you woke up your sisters and then you woke us up, and together we heard all the gasps when sleepy eyes settled on four new bicycles in our living room, for our four precious girls. And after breakfast, just when the morning seemed to be settling down, daddy declared an all out war when he started firing off his nerf gun. Seven months pregnant, I set up a fort, and one by one we locked and loaded and hid behind play kitchens and giggled and blocked the onslaught of darts. You still talk about when I hit daddy with a dart square in the lens of his glasses and the suction cup stuck. I wish with everything in me that I could have bottled the belly laughs from that bliss-filled morning. 

And now today, here we are. You are ten, and so smart, and you seem to grow more every day. You still believe in Santa, but I know it won’t be long now. If we make it all the way to Christmas, I’m sure someone will tell you he’s not real before next year. I look at you, so grown up, but still my sweet baby. Your chubby little fingers and messy handwriting are gone, and now your Christmas list is written in perfect cursive.

My girl, I have loved every single moment of Christmas magic with you. From setting out milk and cookies, to making reindeer food, to sitting on Santa’s lap and whispering your wishes, I wouldn’t trade a minute. The truth is this might be your last Christmas believing in Santa, but I promise you, Christmas will still be full to the brim with magic. There will always be twinkle lights and your precious handmade ornaments on our tree. I promise, every year we will get into jammies and pile into the suburban with our to-go cups full of hot cocoa and drive around for hours looking for the best lights display. We will still get you and your sisters matching pajamas for Christmas eve, no matter how old you are because #sorrynotsorry that is one tradition I will never let go of. Perfect homemade marshmallows and dipping everything in chocolate, you and I will be together, sharing sweet glances while your sisters are obliviously making their lists for Santa. There will be a new secret between us that will light up all of your memories knowing it was Daddy and I all along.

The magic might change, but in this house my love, we will always believe.

Katy Dean
Katy has been married to her college (Geaux Tigers!) sweetheart Chris for 12 years. They live on the Northshore with their 5 daughters, 1 son, and 2 dogs, who keep their lives exciting and exhausting, and their house messy. After being relocated to the Midwest for several years due to her husband’s job, she and her family realized they missed Louisiana and its glorious heat and humidity more than they could handle and moved back home, this time for good. She loves trying new local restaurants, the four minutes a week her house is actually clean, and watching whichever activity her girls are involved in at the moment. You can usually find her dancing to classic country in her kitchen with a glass of wine, while attempting to come up with something to make for dinner.


  1. I love this!! My grown children, even my son law aren’t allowed to even enter the living room to see the massive pile of gifts under the tree until we have given the ok and have the camera ready! We do stockings, them breakfast, then gifts each taking turns. Christmas is an all day affair. I hope it will never change. Ther for the excellent read!


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