I was in grade four when I learned Santa wasn’t real. My religion teacher shattered the illusion, crushing my nine-year-old self’s magical hopes and dreams. Part of my devastation stemmed from the truth that my dad was actually the one crushing back my perfectly shaped gingerbread cookies after my bedtime and not some old, magical bearded stranger who broke into our house through the chimney.
But as tragic as this realization was, I was more upset that the fantasy ended, not that my parents had lied to me about it being real. And even as an adult, it’s still something I’m mad about.
Yes, Santa has become the face of the two C’s: Christmas, and consumerism. But for a child, he’s just the face of magic. He represents the joy of Christmas — as superficial as that may be for a child. He gives them something to look forward to, a reason to try to be good, and he teaches them about how special it is to give a gift and not simply to receive one. No, I didn’t get that out of a Hallmark card.
The point is, there’s something special about an innocent child taking time to bake (with parental supervision, of course) and decorate cookies for Santa, and selecting the most perfect looking ones to put on a plate next to the fireplace with a glass of milk and some carrots for Rudolph and his gang. In a world that seems increasingly cynical — maybe I just notice it more as I’m getting older and getting further and further away from my young self who believed in Santa — the spirit of Christmas doesn’t seem like such a bad thing to hold onto.
So, as bad as it may seem to lie to children about Santa, the harsh reality that the world really isn’t that magical is far worse. The longer you can prolong that belief in a child, the better. And hey, the longer they participate in the fantasy of Santa, Rudolph, the North Pole, the whole nine yards, maybe the more likely they’ll keep the Christmas spirit going even as they grow up. –Ashton Mucha
My parents never gave a shit enough to bother lying about Santa. It was more like, “we bought you some stuff, here you go, you better appreciate it, don’t piss anywhere but in your plastic container.”
Christmas is a time of lies. Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th in the year zero, he was born in like four B.C. and the celebration is based on a pagan holiday. Christmas is when you spend time with people you hypothetically don’t care about while doing things and receiving things you don’t care about. And there is definitely not a fat white man who employs slave labour clomping around your roof at four in the morning on a stat. If anything he’d outsource it. And don’t believe a goddam thing Tim Allen says.
There’s hardly anything magical or even memorable about Christmas as a kid and it’s as forgettable as Family Day or Christopher Columbus Day. Apart from a few distinctive memories, we can’t remember that far back, unless your parents were cruel enough to lie to you into your preteens. Whether or not my parents put on the show, all I’d still be able to remember from Christmases 1993-2003 was getting my middle finger caught in a rocking chair and fainting, and shooting pigeons in a barn.
Basically, Santa is a lie no one can remember very well anyway. There’s no sense turning Christmas gift-giving into some moralistic parenting tactic based on arbitrary rules that ignore class. It’s better when parents explain to Timmy “we have to work jobs we don’t like in order to raise you, and this is one of those social rituals in which we must participate to make you feel accepted in society even though the amount we have to pay compared to your capacity to remember this in any meaningful way is utterly negligible.”
Don’t bother letting kids in on the deceit. Give them a leg up and the propensity to seek out elaborate social lies will be a familiar thing early on. Then your kids can get an English major and hopefully a communications job with Santa. –Josh Greschner