The Santa Myth

Well, now we've done it. The Lie That Is Santa Claus has been born in our household.

When Jordan was a baby I remember giving serious consideration to this issue. I was heavily pregnant at Christmastime and I vowed not to embroil my child in such a pointless, ridiculous lie, a lie he was certain to see through and which would understandably erode his trust in his parents. What kind of loving people spin fables about fat men slipping down chimneys--a feature lacking in our home--to deposit toys in the overblown socks of Good Children?

These kind of loving people, I guess. Because there I was, on Christmas Eve, telling my overstimulated children that they had better get into bed pronto so that Santa Claus could come on his sleigh and bring them toys--if they had been good. The words fell out of my mouth like loose teeth. My wide-eyed kids got into bed, pronto.

I would hate to think that the Santa Myth is perpetuated by generations of exhausted parents just trying to get their sugar-spun offspring to sleep. But if not that, then what? Just what is the value of informing children aged eight and under that their Christmas toys were in fact dropped off by a total stranger? A stranger that, incidentally, just let himself in via the chimney? If anyone else entered through the chimney most reasonable adults would call the police.

And take this bit about Santa's Workshop. I don't get it. I go to work, I shop until my feet bleed, I wrap until I lose my fingertips to Scotch tape, but Santa gets the credit. No wonder the modern child is asking for an XBox, a laptop, and a Maserati. Santa's Elves got it going on. What's the hangup? Forget about learning the value of something when a mysterious personage no one ever sees just drops the stuff off and bombs away on his sled.

But these things are technicalities. The real issue here is I just looked my endearing, open-minded son right in the eye and told him a bald-faced lie without a blink. He believed me because he believes anything I say. Why shouldn't he? As far as he's concerned, I'm still omniscient.

Maybe that's what's really behind Santa Claus. Maybe it's a way to let kids down easy. If Santa's not real, then...what about the Easter Bunny? And what about God? And what about swinging too high--will you really flip over the top bar? Once a kid realizes Mom and Dad are basically full of shit, the implications are staggering.

So this year, Santa packed the stockings. In time my children will narrow their eyes and see through the sham, but this year they're still innocent and we're still sitting pretty. On a sleigh.

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