I was just catching up on a couple of blogs that I haven't read since well before Christmas, and both had lengthy entries and links to other blogs with lengthy entries dedicated to the "lie" of Santa Claus. Basically, these people are questioning whether or not it's appropriate to teach their kids to believe in Santa Claus, because eventually their kids will learn the "truth," which is that there is no such thing as Santa Claus, and therefore, they will a) be angry with their parents for lying to them, and b) begin questioning every single other thing their parents have ever taught them, leading in one case to c) questioning the existence of God and Jesus. And judging by the number of comments on both blogs -- which generally receive 4-6 comments on any given entry -- supporting the notion that Santa is a lie we shouldn't tell our children, this is apparently some new popular thinking going around. All the commenters were people who said things like "I felt betrayed when I found out Santa Claus wasn't real."
Hmm. I guess I missed the memo where we were all going to hate on Santa Claus.
I don't personally know a single person who felt betrayed when they found out Santa Claus wasn't real. Granted, my family and friends are extremely well-adjusted, so maybe we're the weirdos. But for the most part, I think we were all fully aware that Santa Claus was a game your parents played with you. A game, not a lie they perpetuated on you. It's definitely a game with me and Daniel. I think he'll react like I did when he finally figures it out -- he'll think it's awesome that I "tricked" him for so long. And he'll remember Santa as being a magic and happy part of childhood and he'll carry it on with his own kids. He won't be angry or disappointed because by the time he figures it out, he'll also be old enough to realize that he's still going to have a great Christmas with or without Santa's help. And that's really what Santa, when done properly, does -- he's a tool you can use to get your kids interested in giving, a mythical figure who teaches us that you can reap so many benefits from giving, maybe it's fun to just give and give to the whole world. Santa fires up kids' imaginations, gets them thinking about the whole wide world and not just their tiny corner of it. Kids will ask all sorts of questions about whether or not kids in China get a visit from Santa, and it's your opportunity to help them learn about life in China. Or wherever else your kid asks about.
If doing the Santa thing in your house is leading to your kids being selfish and spoiled, I don't really think the issue is Santa -- I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's the parenting.
If doing the Santa thing in your house is leading to your kids questioning the validity of everything you've ever taught them, maybe you should thank your lucky stars that your kids have brains enough to not just take everything at face value and take the opportunity to help them explore their faith, or whatever it is they're questioning.
Maybe you felt betrayed by your parents because they were assholes who just up and told you there was no Santa one day and let that be their excuse to never buy you another decent Christmas gift again. Maybe this, then, is your opportunity to not be your parents.
I just the think the whole "debate" is ridiculous. I see where this is going -- people are going to teach their kids that there is no Santa Claus, and those kids are going to come to school and tell the children of normal people that there is no Santa Claus, thus leading to the normal people having to either make something up on the fly when their kid asks about it, or ending the Santa game before they had planned to. Some kid on the playground told Daniel and his friends that there is no Santa and that he saw his parents leaving the gifts out, but I think Daniel has one more year to believe in Santa and then he'll probably figure it out, so I told him that if he didn't believe in Santa, then Santa wouldn't visit. And I seriously doubt that this will harm him for life. In fact, when he confronted me with his theory that there is no Santa, he thought it was really funny.
It's all fine and well if you don't want to have your kids believing in Santa, but that doesn't mean it's okay for you to preach it to my kid.
You might assume that the people most concerned about this are hardcore Christians, and that is true of one camp, but the other camp is gay parents. Particularly gay men. A lot of gay men (and I'm sure lesbian women) have this thing where they have vowed, after coming out, to never tell another lie as long as they live, and they feel like teaching their kids to believe in Santa is lying. I find this perspective fascinating from a sociological viewpoint, but it's not something I could ever get behind.
We're Santa people in this house.