We decided last year that we wouldn’t do the Santa Claus thing with our kids. That doesn’t mean that we just say “santa isn’t real”. No, we just decided to handle it a little bit differently. We tell our kids the true history of St. Nicholas and that he used to be a real person and we commemorate his kind acts of Christian charity today as a Christmas tradition. We are very careful to tell them that some people like to have fun with the idea of Santa Claus and act like the presents come from him, so they shouldn’t spoil it for other kids. But what’s our motivation for this in the first place? Well, there are several.
First, it’s the truth. I’ve heard all the arguments for and against pretending that Santa Claus is real. I’m just not compelled by them enough to trick my kids. I want them to have total faith in what I tell them; that it’s the truth, as fully and complete as I know it to be. When kids finally do find out that Santa isn’t real, it is usually from other kids. I remember when I found out that Santa wasn’t real in the lunchroom at school back in the 3rd grade. I was so embarrassed. I remember a couple of bullies, Anthony and Brian making fun of me for “still believing in Santa Claus” and the other kids at the table laughing at me. A child’s self-esteem is so fragile and I don’t want them to feel like I tricked them, and that’s what got them embarrassed in front of their friends.
Second, I want them to know that there presents came from us. Maybe it’s a little selfish, but I want them to know right now that we care about the things they like and that it’s we who love them and know just what to get for them. I don’t want that love and care to be laid at the feet of some made up character who doesn’t exist. Kids get lots of gifts during the holidays and if you’re not careful, Christmas will be over and they have gotten lots of gifts from lots of people, but the gifts they get should be getting from their parents are instead coming from Santa Claus.
Thirdly and most importantly, to a child, Santa Claus and other fictional holiday characters are just too similar to the secular view of God for my taste. On one hand you have Santa Claus whom you never see but he evidently knows everything about you and keeps up with whether you are being good or bad. He gives you good presents if you’re good and bad presents if you’re bad. He loves you and brings you toys (which God doesn’t even do). And Mommy and Daddy tell you all these stories about him and how he is real even though you never see him. My question is what in a child’s mind makes that any different than God? If Mommy and Daddy lied to me about this person who I can’t see but who loves me nonetheless, why should I believe them when they tell me that we can’t see God but he sure does love me?
If you think that’s far fetched then just read this article about some teachers in the UK who told their students that Santa Claus was not real, and then read the very first reader comment in the feedback section:
“I think next they should start going to funeral homes and telling the loved ones of the recently deceased that there is no Heaven or afterlife and that their loved one will just rot in the ground and they’ll never see them again. This would be especially good to do to any small children who lose a parent.”
- Peter, Houston TX
The fact that Peter from Houston associates Santa Claus as being the same as Heaven and Hell proves my point. The secular world today lumps Christ in right alongside Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. I see no reason to give them extra ammo with my kids.
Now for the disclaimers: I Dave Jones, being of semi-sound mind and unsound body do willingly acknowledge the following:
- Millions of people believed in Santa Claus as kids and were not made fun of when they found out.
- Millions of people believed in Santa Claus as kids and did not lose their belief in God.
- Millions of people believed in Santa Claus as kids and still knew their parents loved them.
That is why we don’t get all preachy about it with other parents. As far as I’m concerned, issues like this should be decided by each parent based on what they think is best for their children. It doesn’t bother me one bit when a parent tells their kid that Santa Claus does exist. But my conscience won’t let me tell that to my own kids, because my mind tells me they might not handle it as well as other kids. If you want to say that I’m an insane, overprotective, right-wing, puritan worshipper as a dad, then you would probably be right. As a dad, it’s my job to be overprotective and to worry. That’s what dads do. But I also think my points make good sense, and reason should always accompany concern as a parent’s guide.