Santa isn’t real, but don’t tell my kids. They still believe in him, like the little fools they are.
That sounds harsh, and it is. But that’s how it feels when, willingly, I continue to convince my kids that the presents they got for Christmas came from some dude that broke into their house, some guy that was initially set up as a representation of sainthood – Saint Nicholas! – and has morphed into a ninja-like spectre of gift-giving.
Saint Nicholas of Myra gave gifts to the poor, devoted his life to his religion, and became the patron saint of children, sailors and the local pawn shop. St. Nicholas of the Netherlands is a character of folklore. In Germany, St. Nicholas is an approximation of Odin, a god in human clothing not unlike Jesus himself. These stories have been twisted, adapted and changed from their original celebration of giving, to the point that Santa has become a THING; no longer a representation of charity, Santa is now How We Get Presents.
We all know that. But my kids don’t. My kids don’t understand that Santa represents an abstract thought, just as they don’t understand that Dora the Explorer represents growth through following directions and learning language. There’s one difference, though: my kids don’t think Dora the Explorer is a real person.
So we lie to our kids for tradition’s sake. There’s nothing that we’ve given to our children that we haven’t want to claim ourselves, but there’s this unspoken rule that, yes, THIS gift is from Santa. Yes, that Santa. Yeah. The fat guy who ate the cookies.
It’s so ingrained that we don’t feel icky about it. But this year, I did. I felt downright AWFUL about pretending there was a Santa, that I took advantage of our four-year-old’s trust and our two-year-old’s naivety by keeping the charade up. I hated it. But I did it. And I’m questioning whether I do it again.
If you were raised in a typical Christian-based house as a kid, you remember the time you found out Santa wasn’t real. You remember it because it was one of the first times you realized your parents lie. That they’d lied to your face, for years, about the person who brought the gifts. You either accepted it for what it was, or you were sad and Christmas was ruined for the year, but one thing always remained: you wondered what else your parents lied about.
What else is simply a facade? What else should I question, refuse to trust, and all of that Rage Against the Machine worry.
Dramatic, yes. But Kerrie and I have made a point not to lie about things to our children. Outside of occasional lies of omission, we’ve done a decent job – as decent job as one can with two inquisitive whippersnappers wandering around.
But SANTA. Oh. Santa, Santa, Santa.
Next year? I hope Santa has gone away.