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Why Believe in Santa Claus?

Why Believe in Santa Claus?

The idea of Santa Claus keeps me up at night. Not because I, along with my more than eager son, am listening for the unlikely sound of reindeer hoofs on my worn out roof (personal note to Santa: if you do in fact exist, please don’t land your sleigh on the roof. I don’t think it will hold under your substantial weight). No, my nocturnal ponderings of Santa have more to do with (attention: spoiler alert!) the idea of perpetuating the myth of Santa Claus for the children in my life. I, along with voiceless others, am hardly convinced that inviting Santa Claus into our collective consciousness is all that much of a good thing.

While I was raised with Christmas and the idea of Santa Claus, I don’t have any real memory of truly believing in him. That said, I was always fond of the idea and recall partaking in the Santa-centric festivities without prejudice. Now I, along with countless other parents the world over, am keeping the myth/hope alive by perpetuating the idea that every December 24th a philanthropic, but albeit judgmental, fat man bestows gifts upon all the good girls and boys of the world. Sure I see the gleam of unadulterated joy and wonder in the eyes (and possibly hearts) of the children around me. I witness the excitement and anticipation of Christmas morning, and how, in a strange way, it bonds us all together through the imagination of our children (at least temporarily). But is feeding the myth just another way of justifying a grand lie (not to be confused with a “white lie”) that may just be serving us more than it serves them?

OK, I could already hear the hate mail coming in, but just stay with me on this. As a parent, in order to cultivate a real belief in Santa Claus for your children you must lie. This is a fact, as we grown adults all know (spoiler alert!) that Santa is simply a beloved myth. And this lie, in order for it to be effective and engaging, is required to expand and develop over time to counteract any natural childhood skepticism. False evidence needs to be fabricated; true evidence needs to be concealed, all in effort to maintain a childlike belief in something that seems to be for the greater good. To me, as a general rule, lying to your children is never advisable and just seems to jettison any prospect for the greater good.

Is the idea of Santa Claus more rooted in favor of the parents than the children? So much of what is stressed at Christmas is this idea of Santa being this all-seeing, omnipotent, judge of our character. If children are naughty they get coal, if they are nice the get gifts. Doesn’t this work more in favor for adults, rather than the children, as a form of behavioral control leading the children to believe that a whole person could be judged by a few simple acts or misdeeds? This seems to promote the idea that all action should be taken for the sake of material and tangible reward, rather than personal growth or satisfaction. As parents we seem to be wittingly or unwittingly dictating our children’s behavior by holding over their heads the idea of a condemnatory stranger.

Now in no way am I advocating a banishment of Santa Claus from the Christmas tradition. I do see room for Santa to maintain his good standing with the holiday tradition as a beloved myth, and not collective untruth. The Santa iconography could remain intact as a symbol of Christmas and the season, but he will be cleansed of his discrimination and judgment of children, and instead be a symbol of generosity, charity, and unconditional love. Maybe, by handing over all of the Christmas glory to Santa Claus we are missing a golden opportunity to reveal something to our children more illuminating and revealing about being a parent: the genuine desire of simply wanting to bestow a sense of magic and hope upon our children through tradition, stories, generosity of spirit, and quite lastly gifts.

Read more: Babies, Blogs, Caregiving, Children, Christmas, Family, Parenting at the Crossroads, , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

34 comments

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11:31AM PST on Jan 1, 2013

I believe in Santa Claus.

5:17AM PST on Dec 19, 2012

Thanks for the information.

2:44PM PST on Dec 12, 2012

I used to tell my kids that parents had to pay a little money to help Santa. That way I hope they beleived in Santa but knew there was a price range. Did not do this till they got older tho. little kids have the right to some joy in life when little is around us.

1:35PM PST on Dec 12, 2012

Thank you

10:30PM PST on Dec 11, 2012

Nothing wrong with believing in Santa. I wish everyone would stop being so ridiculously "politically correct". Let the kids enjoy a harmless fantasy for a few years.

1:21PM PST on Dec 11, 2012

Sheesh! I wish parents would start being parents not amateur psychologists. What's wrong with a little kid believing in something? With all the horror going on in the world today a little fantasy isn't going to do too much harm. Long live Santa!

11:18AM PST on Dec 10, 2012

In fact I was a professional Santa many years ago, and I believed in myself back then... -know-what-I-mean...???

11:15AM PST on Dec 10, 2012

He's coming every christmas, so he has to be real, right...???

2:34PM PST on Jan 4, 2012

I do not really like the Santa Clause bringing gifts idea because some children do not recieve a gift due to the family not having enough money!! It is not really fair to those children. They believe then get nothing!!

5:58AM PST on Jan 4, 2012

How could anyone be such a grinch as to not believe in Santa. If you have faith to believe in Jesus Christ and God then you have surely enough faith to believe in someone that brings such joy into the lives of so many who spend a whole year in misery

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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