Family life

Why I've Given Up Playing Santa

I've written hundreds of letters as Father Christmas. Here's why, after 16 years, I'm retiring my festive pens.

Why I've Given Up Playing Santa

Credit: Jenn Cox

When the first of my close friends had a baby, I was in love. I still refer to this looming 15-year-old as my first child. It was so much fun having a little one in our circle, and when Christmas rolled around, I decided to write him a letter from Santa Claus.

I bought special stationery with St. Nick’s picture printed on the top, found red and green pens, and wrote in a fun and blocky scrawl. The return address always read: S. Claus, North Pole, H0H 0H0.

overhead photo of a child starting to write a letter to santa iStock

How my Christmas tradition grew

Then another friend had a baby, and then another, and before I knew it, I was writing 22 letters from Santa to all the kids in my life. I’d watch a favourite Christmas movie or two while I wrote. I quickly learned that wine and Santa-writing don’t mix: I’d get to the last sentence of a long handwritten letter only to make a mistake and have to start over.

The process was intense: 22 letters and 22 envelopes, more than $30 in stamps, a writing bump on my middle finger where the pen rested (something I hadn’t had since my university days), and a sore neck.

Some years I got extra creative, and in addition to the letter, I included other surprises. One year, before I had a child of my own (and apparently, had way too much time on my hands) I wrote accompanying letters from elves in teeny, tiny print. Another time, I sent bags of reindeer food (dry oats mixed with glitter) with each Santa letter.

I loved the process—for a while. I’d ask my friends what achievements to include in their kids' letters and would include words of encouragement each year. When my son discovered the truth about Santa a few years ago, he got into the holiday spirit by helping me write letters. Getting involved in creating a little magic for his friends helped soften the blow that Santa wasn’t real.

photo of a letter written from santa Credit: Jenn Cox

How I knew it was time to retire


When I made out my holiday lists this past November (shopping, cards and Santa letters), I realized my oldest recipients are almost 16 and my youngest is eight. And while some of my friends still haven’t admitted to their kids that Santa isn’t real (which I admire), they’re all old enough to understand that these letters aren’t coming from the North Pole. Plus, Santa is old now. And tired.

As my own family has grown, so have my holiday responsibilities. We have as many as 12 guests staying with us for several days each year, we participate in various charities, attend craft fairs and community parties, and have friends over for cookie decorating and tree trimming. I love doing photo Christmas cards because we have family and friends who live across North America, and it’s always a nice way to reconnect and send best wishes for the holiday season. I’ll never give that up.

While I'll miss writing Santa letters—it wasn't just for the kids, it kept the magic of the holidays alive for me, too—at some point, I had to let go of this tradition for my sanity. So this year, I’ll gently sign off with my kiddos, whom I have loved learning about and spoiling.

I'll explain that it's time for Santa to make time for the little kids who have only just learned about me. And I'll give my holiday pen pals Santa's North Pole address, in case they ever need me. If they drop letters to Santa in any Canada Post mailbox, they'll receive a response. It likely won't be hand-written in my trademark red sparkly pen, but it's something—and it's time for me to retire. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

letter from santa Credit: Jenn Cox

Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with your baby's development, get the latest parenting content and receive special offers from our partners

I understand that I may withdraw my consent at any time.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Jenn Cox is a freelance journalist in Montreal and the mother of an 11-year-old. She loves crafts, gardening, and spending time with her family, including their doodle, Toby.