New book trailers!

About Devine Intervention

"Frequently hysterical ... devastatingly honest writing that surprises with its occasional beauty and hits home with the keenness of its insight." 

—Kirkus Reviews, starred review


"So much fun... an insightful story about seizing life for all it’s worth while you have the chance."

—Publishers Weekly

"It is a pleasure to read a writer who so delights in language, and who writes so captivatingly in a teen voice with such imaginative description."

— Los Angeles Times

“This is a love story. Not a romantic love story, but a story of the development of a deep caring relationship with another being. Humorous and sad at times, it brings us to ask ourselves what we think about heaven and how we get there. Believable and fast-paced, it keeps us reading to the end.”

Library Media Connection


Search this site
Follow Martha's Blog
today on readergirlz

Photo by Emerald England.

« On healing a broken world | Main | Spread the word! 125,000 free books for low-income teens »

The truth about Santa

Lucy and Alice, Christmas 2008I wrote this last year for Cozi, after my daughter Lucy asked for the truth about Santa. My good friend Holly Cupala reminded me it was the season to repost. I hope you enjoy!

Dear Lucy,

Thank you for your letter. You asked a very good question: “Are you Santa?”

I know you’ve wanted the answer to this question for a long time, and I’ve had to give it careful thought to know just what to say.

The answer is no. I am not Santa. There is no one Santa.

I am the person who fills your stockings with presents, though. I also choose and wrap the presents under the tree, the same way my mom did for me, and the same way her mom did for her. (And yes, Daddy helps, too.)

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 small faces lit with Christmas lights.

This won’t make you Santa, though.

Santa is bigger than any person, and his work has gone on longer than any of us have lived. What he does is simple, but it is powerful. He teaches children how to believe in something they can’t see or touch.

It’s a big job, and it’s an important one. Throughout your life, you will need this capacity to believe: in yourself, in your friends, in your talents, and in your family. You’ll also need to believe in things you can’t measure or even hold in your hand. Here, I am talking about love, that great power that will light your life from the inside out, even during its darkest, coldest moments.

Santa is a teacher, and I have been his student, and now you know the secret of how he gets down all those chimneys on Christmas Eve: He has help from all the people whose hearts he’s filled with joy.

With full hearts, people like Daddy and me take our turns helping Santa do a job that would otherwise be impossible.

So, no. I am not Santa. Santa is love and magic and hope and happiness. I’m on his team, and now you are, too.

I love you and I always will.



PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (14)

This was very sweet. I still have two believers in my house, and I hate to think of the magic ending for them. But, put this way, the magic can remain.
December 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda Hoving
So sweet! I didn't see this last year, so I'm glad you reposted. Thanks!
December 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKjersten
Martha - I love this! I'm dreading the day I need to talk with the girls...
December 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBridget
Beautiful and true. I can see this as a picture book.
December 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmy Ellerman
I teared up reading this. The magic of Christmas can always remain if we want it to. Thank you for sharing.
December 20, 2010 | Unregistered Commentervon
Wow. Just a good sort of magic of the season, now I get how I'm going to handle the inevitable sort of way.
December 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDonna Matney
Love, love, love this. One of the best explanations of Santa I've read. Thank you so much for sharing.
December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShannon
Beautifully written, Martha, and so very true! It brought a tear to my eye. I wonder, how did Lucy respond?
December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTrudi Trueit
wow. best explanation i've ever read. we aren't quite ready for this talk yet - another year or two, but what a fantastic way to answer. thank you for this.
December 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertammie
I just found this article by happenstance on Circle of Moms, so I went to search for the original, and I found it here. This is the most beautiful, tender, sweet letter I've ever seen. I teared up and it just filled my heart with joy. I will always believe in the magic of Santa and I pray my children will to. Now I know exactly what to say when the inevitable day comes. Thank you for inspiring me.
March 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnnie

I thought this writing was so genius that I saved it from last year. Now some of my friends are talking about this topic already for THIS year and I am going to share this with them (again) through your link if that is okay. I think this is going to be HUGE. It is brilliant.

Katie :-)
November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatie
This is just beautiful. Sadly, I think this may be the year I get the big question - and now I have some help to answer it. Thank you so much for sharing this with us!
December 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca
October 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermarguerite
Dear Ms. Brackenbough,

I, like so many others, was impressed and moved by this letter. I think that it captures the sentiments of so many people who wish to make sure that children understand the magic of Christmas.

I wanted to let you know that I have written a sort of half parody/half genuine letter of my own about my alma mater's mascot. I have provided the link. I hope that you like it and that you understand that, in this case, imitation really is intended as the highest form of flattery. If, however, you don't like it, please contact me and I will remove it.

All the best,
April 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoAnne

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.