Parents, maybe this is the year you should tell your kids that Santa isn’t real.
Maybe you’re afraid it might hurt their feelings, but maybe that’s only because you’ve convinced them that he was real in the first place.
You might think it’s “fun”, but who is it fun for? If you think kids need to believe something is real in order to have fun pretending it is, then you might be seriously underestimating children’s imaginations. Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Horror aren’t fun because we believe them, they’re fun because we can suspend disbelief long enough to enjoy a good story.
You condition children to believe in something, only to later tell them that you made the whole thing up. “Oh, and by the way, the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy? Yep. Those too. Sorry kid. No, you can totally trust me about everything else. I was only lying to you for the last 8 years about THOSE things, nothing else.”
Have you ever used Santa as a threat? “If you misbehave, Santa won’t leave you any presents. I’m about to call Santa. He’s watching you. He knows…” Doesn’t that feel like a cop out?
Maybe it would be better if we practiced what we preached and told the children the honest truth, but then suggested that we still pretend Santa is real, because it’s a fun game. Maybe it would be better if we focused on things like family, fellowship, and for many of you, faith. Maybe it would be better if children knew who their presents really came from on Christmas morning, and learned to show gratitude to their parents, instead of an invisible man who uses slave labor and magic.
I think, if you recount the story of the REAL St. Nikolaos of Myra – the historical Greek Bishop – it doesn’t leave much room to get him confused with the fictional icon. Any kid can ask, “Well, if the Greek guy is the real Santa, then who is the guy in the red suit? Same dude? No? Then what’s the deal?” That’s why I SUSPECT most people ignore the historical figure in favor of the fictional one – which is especially odd for Christians, as they’re ignoring a historical Christian figure in favor of a fictional pagan one, and on a holiday that they, themselves, are adamant about keeping holy. Am I the only one that finds that weird? I didn’t know about the historical figure until I was damn near an adult. (I’m still only damn near an adult)
If your kid comes to you of their own volition and asks if the fictional Santa is real, will you come clean with them, or will you dig the hole even deeper because you aren’t ready to have the conversation?
Maybe it’s harmless… but if it’s harmless, why are you so worried about telling them the truth? Maybe I don’t have kids, so I “just don’t know.” Maybe when I do, I won’t lie to them about Santa.
But hey, what do I know? I’m just some guy (without kids).
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!