There's a brilliant, heartfelt way to tell your kids the truth about Santa. Take notes.

"It's the mooost wonderful tiiiiime of the — OH NO, did Charlie just ask if Santa is real?!"

— What some mom or dad is probably thinking this very moment

If you're a parent in a household that celebrates Christmas, you can likely relate to the dreaded Santa Claus conversation. It may come with tears, it may come with tantrums, and it may even be worse for you, seeing that heart-wrenching look of disappointment spread across your child's once-merry face.


It's a dilemma Charity Hutchinson of British Columbia has been thinking about recently, as a mom to two young boys and the two nephews she cares for as well.

Photo by Theresa Easter Photography.

Just a few days ago, one of Hutchinson's nephews raised the question, telling her he no longer believed in Santa Claus.

"I felt sad because he seemed disappointed telling me his news," she explains in a message. "And in that moment I didn't know what to say to him."

Hutchinson soon stumbled upon some advice online, finding what she described as “by far the best idea I’ve seen about telling your kids about Santa."

The idea of Santa may seem frivolous to many adults, but to believe in something much bigger than yourself, only to learn you've been lied to by the people you trust most in the world? That can be a really big deal to a kid (and can possibly even create long-term trust issues for them, as one study found). The Santa conversation is one many parents understandably want to get right.

So when Hutchinson saw one of her friends on Facebook share an anonymous post detailing a strategy for breaking the news to your kids without disappointing them, she was thrilled.

Hutchinson loved the idea so much, she shared it on Facebook as well:

This is by far the best idea I've seen about telling your kids about Santa. Had to share! *********"In our family, we...

Posted by Charity Hutchinson on Tuesday, November 29, 2016

This is how it works:

1. Find a time to take your kid out, one-on-one, to a favorite spot and deliver the great news: The time has come for them to become a Santa.

The post explains (emphasis mine):

"When they are 6 or 7, whenever you see that dawning suspicion that Santa may not be a material being, that means the child is ready. I take them out 'for coffee' at the local wherever. We get a booth, order our drinks, and the following pronouncement is made: 'You sure have grown an awful lot this year. Not only are you taller, but I can see that your heart has grown, too.'"

The post suggests pointing to a few different examples of how your kid has shown empathy or done something nice for another person throughout the past year. Let them know it was in those moments they proved themselves worthy of finally "becoming a Santa" themselves.

2. Assure your kid that they're ready to become a Santa because they understand the true meaning of giving (it's not just about the milk and cookies).

"You probably have noticed that most of the Santas you see are people dressed up like him. Some of your friends might have even told you that there is no Santa. A lot of children think that because they aren't ready to BE a Santa yet, but YOU ARE."

Get them talking about all the reasons they think Santa's the best. They may start out by pointing to his sleigh-riding skills or the fact he can go around the whole world in just one night. But move the conversation toward Santa being not so much of a cool person, but a cool concept that's focused on giving. Handing out presents makes the spirit of Santa a spectacular thing. Because your kid understands why giving back matters too, it's time they become a Santa themselves.

Also, "make sure you maintain the proper conspiratorial tone," the post notes.

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images.

3. Now that they're in on the secret, have them choose someone who could really use a great gift and devise a plan to give it away — secretly, of course.

"We then have the child choose someone they know — a neighbor, usually. The child's mission is to secretly, deviously, find out something that the person needs, and then provide it, wrap it, deliver it — and never reveal to the target where it came from. Being a Santa isn't about getting credit, you see. It's unselfish giving."

In the original post, the writer explains that their oldest child decided to buy a gift for a neighbor who always walked out to get the newspaper without her shoes on. Their son spied on the neighbor one day from the bushes to estimate her shoe size — he predicted she wore mediums — and then slipped a pair of slippers under her driveway gate one evening with a note "from Santa." The following morning, the neighbor was spotted wearing the slippers. Their son was ecstatic.

4. Remind them that being a Santa is top-secret business. And that, next year, they can carry on with their selfless Santa duties once again.

"I had to remind him that NO ONE could ever know what he did or he wouldn't be a Santa. Over the years, he chose a good number of targets, always coming up with a unique present just for them."

One year, for instance, he polished up a bike for a family friend's daughters. The writer's son was just as over the moon about giving the gift as the daughters were about receiving it.

Over the past week, Hutchinson's post has racked up thousands of Likes and shares, with plenty of thankful parents chiming in in the comments.

"I never imagined it would be so popular!" Hutchinson explains. "I mean, it felt special when I read it and completely gave me goosebumps, but I didn't realize it would go this far."

Where the original post came from is still somewhat of a mystery. As The Huffington Post reported, it seems to have first cropped up in 2007 in an online forum. Ever since, the idea has floated around the web here and there, but has only made waves recently with Hutchinson's post going viral.

Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

The secret of being a Santa, so to speak, has already worked its holiday magic on Hutchinson's once-suspicious nephew.

Filling him in on becoming a Santa was an instant game-changer, she says.

"His eyes lit right up," she writes. "That excitement and joy returned to him and he couldn't stop asking me questions! ... Instantly I could see the wheels were turning and he started planning who his special target would be and what he would get them and how he'd pull it off."

Hutchinson is happy her simple Facebook post has turned into something so special. "It isn't just a nice way to break the news to your kids," she writes. "But it really teaches them about the true meaning of Christmas and how you should always give to others."

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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