Illusion, Disillusionment and Santa

About a month before Christmas two years ago I was speaking with my youngest daughter Catherine about her then five-year-old son Jaden (my grandson), asking her about her plans for Christmas. She smiled and recalled how last year, he had told her, “You don’t like Christmas, do you Mom?” said innocently and without accusation. He was merely making an observation based on what he observed in her behavior and attitude the previous holiday season. Wasn’t upset about it. Just making a comment

Catherine told me when Jaden was even younger that she didn’t want him to believe in Santa Claus. Felt like it was a big lie for which later Jaden would be upset when he found out the truth. Plus her recollection of Santa was when she was about four years old and sat on his lap was that he had bad breath! I thought she was taking it a little too seriously, but she was adamant that she didn’t want him to believe in something that was a lie.

I gave her my opinion, which is that we are confronted with illusions our entire life and periodically we are disillusioned as the truth of the situation is revealed to us. I look at it as part of the deal in growing up. Even throughout adulthood we have times when our illusions are challenged and either we let them go or cling to them in the face of all evidence.

It took Jaden’s question for her to see the value in carrying on the illusion, perhaps with some sadness that he will one day no longer believe in Santa Claus. At the tender age of five years old, children think more concretely. From about three years to seven years old even God is thought of as a big older man in the sky, about ten feet tall, with long flowing gray hair and a beard to match and from up there he watched everything you did. At around age seven or eight a child’s thinking changes from having to physically experience things to thinking more abstractly about these things, so concepts often have to be revised. Including Santa Claus.

So even explaining to Jaden that Santa Claus was the Spirit of Christmas, I know he needed to experience something more concrete. We did have a discussion recently of how God is in everything. Became sort of a game with us. So that year and ever since Catherine has made Christmas a big deal. Even took Jaden to one of those mall Santas-and he loved it.

Celebrate Your Disillusionment!

The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman is one of those books I’ve read more than once at different eras in my life. In it he tells a great story about being disillusioned. The premise for the book is that while Dan was a student at University of California Berkeley and a champion gymnast, he felt a great deal of anxiety and unhappiness much of the time, accompanied by bouts of insomnia. One evening when he couldn’t sleep he took a walk to a nearby gas station and met an unusual fellow he named Socrates. The tale surrounds his relationship with this man and the teachings this wise elder gave to him.

One of those is when Millman walked in and complained of being disillusioned. By now Dan was accustomed to this old man putting a different spin on whatever he brought to him, and this time was no different. He told Dan that it if he was disillusioned it was time to celebrate! Took him by surprise. Socrates went on to say how we are so attached to our illusions that we moan and groan when they are shattered. His take is that we should have a party because now we’re dealing with reality.

Hmm. Good point isn’t it? We do get attached to our illusions. I think back on the first time I realized that Santa Claus wasn’t a real person. I was crushed but actually happy that I now knew that it was my mom and dad who got me the Alamo set, complete with a Davy Crockett hat (for those of you old enough to remember!).

So Merry Christmas! May you always (eventually) celebrate the release of your illusions!


Laurie Greenberg
Laurie Greenberg3 years ago

I believe in Santa even now. It's the magical spirit of Christmas.

Connie Telfer-Smith
Past Member 3 years ago

Jane B - think Santa just put you on his naughty list!

Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

Santa Claus
Santa Claus3 years ago

Dear Steven: It may interest you and your readers to know that my legal name is Santa Claus. I serve as a volunteer advocate for the 2 million children in the U.S. annually who are abused, neglected, exploited, abandoned, homeless, and institutionalized in our great nation. I'm also a Monk and believe that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ, not the crass, commercial, secular spectacle it has become in many places, and that the greatest gift one can give is love, not presents. Blessings to all, Santa (TheSanta(im))

George Marshall
George Marshall4 years ago

Santa is real for anyone who believes. As with any of our beliefs. Who is to say what is truth? We create our own realities based on our experiences. I, also, do not like Christmas, as it has become nothing more than commercial and very stressful for those, trying to pack all their humanity into one season. I believe in love all year around. Giving all year around. This archaic tradition will continue and that is fine. But not everyone who does not believe in it is a Scrooge.

Elisabeth T.
Elisabeth T.4 years ago

Good article, I let my kids believe in Santa as long as they wanted,

Dep P.
Dep P.4 years ago

Saint Nick was real, dead now, but he was real. He ran a childrens orphanage. Came from a rich family and was taught about Jesus the Christ. When he was older and all of the wealth of his family had been left to him, he went about telling and teaching about Jesus.
The socks by the fire side we have used since then was based on the fact that he "saint Nicolas", had thrown a sack full of gold through a window he'd opened, onto socks and shoes that were lying by a fire place to dry. Hence the old Saint Nick down the chimney became tradition.
None the less, there was a Santa Clause. He had actually thrown the gold into that home because he found out that the parents of the girls could not afford a dowry because they were poor, and I think it was the greeks who were going to take the three girls into slavery, at any rate, they were to be sold into slavery. By giving the gold, the parents could now keep there daughters, Long story short.
So, you don't have to lie to your kids about Santa after all. Perhaps tell the true story when they are old enough to understand it.

Dep P.
Dep P.4 years ago


Dep P.
Dep P.4 years ago


Dep P.
Dep P.4 years ago

One blundering comment after the other. You give free advice to, lol. Ecclesiastical? hehe. If your thinking I'm a preacher, you couldn't be more off the mark.
Well, anyway, so your afraid of dying, and your afraid of getting old and pruny, hehe. Your addicted to your body. You can't manage a relationship in your life. You want to play mommy with your little guys and show them "all" what a wisened creature you are. Watch out, it sounds like "the rot" is closer than you care to admit. It's not death misguided one, it is life.