I was one of those kids who had a ton of questions about everything. One of those kids who would respond with the answer to my previous question with an obnoxious “why.” Being a child like that, I really appreciate the fact that my parents were patient enough to answer my questions because I know that had to be annoying at times. Like most children, Christmas was, and often times still is, a very enchanting time for me. And a part of all that magic had to do with the myth of Santa Claus. Our teachers talked about Santa at school, we watched countless Christmas movies where Santa saved the day and kids from all over the city stood in hour-long lines just to get a picture with him.
Santa was a hero and it would have been easy to believe in him; but for some reason, even as a young one, I had my doubts. So at around five years old, I asked the people I knew wouldn’t lie to me: my parents.
“Is Santa Claus real?”
My parents didn’t even hesitate: “No, he’s not.” They did make sure to mention that there was nothing wrong with watching the movies or appreciating Santa; but believing in him was…unnecessary.
What my parents probably should have told me was that just because we knew the truth about Santa Claus, didn’t mean we had to share that piece of classified information with our friends. But they didn’t; and in an effort to educate, my sister and I told our neighborhood friend Jasmine, that Santa was not real. Of course she didn’t believe us. We tried to convince her with evidence. “How could he visit every child’s house in the world in one night? Everybody doesn’t have a chimney!” We went on and on like this for a couple of minutes until suddenly it occurred to us, all we had to do was run and ask our mother. She had already told us Santa wasn’t real, surely she’d say it again.
We found our mom, preoccupied at the time, and asked her. Either her back was turned or she didn’t know Jasmine was around; but she told us again, flat out, that Santa was not real.
We would learn years later, once we were in high school, that Jasmine’s mom was none too pleased about the bit of new information she’d learned that day. In retrospect, that wasn’t right, but as kids we had no idea how deep Santa was for some of our friends.
While I can sympathize with parents going to great lengths, even lying, to maintain their child’s naivete or innocence, I can honestly say I won’t be one of those parents. I’m not really a fan of lying to children, unless it’s to protect them. I want my children to know that when I tell them something, it the truth, or a level of truth I think they can handle at the time. I’m not into intentionally deceiving little people especially when they often look at adults, their parents in particular, with absolute trust.
Aside from the lying, I want my children to know that it’s not some strange, white man they’ve never met, buying them presents. It’s me and their father working hard throughout the year to be able to give them gifts.
And while we’re on this whole gift issue, I should mention that the biggest reason why I’m really not about teaching or allowing my children to continue to believe in Santa Claus is because the holiday is really not about him. I have a dichotomy of feelings when it comes to Mr. Claus. While I still smile at the kids waiting in line to meet him and still get really invested in those adorable Christmas movies; a big part of me also recognizes that Santa, in a lot of ways, is a symbol of the commercialism that has taken precedent over the real, sacred meaning of Christmas: the celebration of the birth of Christ. In a perfect world, I’d love to get to a place where I can wean my children off gifts entirely, so we can truly focus on Christ at Christmas. If there’s anyone I want my children to believe in, it’s him and not Santa.