Monday, December 13, 2010

Keeping Santa Simple

Won't anyone save our children?

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!  Sir Walter Scott, Marmion, Canto vi. Stanza 17.
Better watch out, or your kids are going to ask one more question about the magic of Santa than you can answer.  You'll find yourself saying "If you don't believe in Santa, you won't get any presents!"

Kids are smart

Most kids actually take the trouble to analyse situations more thoroughly than adults do.  They're still exploring the universe with wonder, which is why the "whys" come at you faster than you can bat them away.

And yet, as a culture, we persist through generations of playing a game with the hearts and minds of our dearest treasures.  I'm sure some of you will just assume I'm no fun (there's some truth to this), but instead consider this.

Why Santa is a risky business
  1. You are telling them a story and pretending it is true
  2. You are creating an exciting person with a personal relationship with them - who does not exist
  3. You are encouraging them to accept unrealistic things based on their trust of you (and possibly greed)
  4. They may suffer serious disappointment with the world and with you when they learn the truth
  5. They may suffer ridicule from children who already know the truth
  6. You have no control over how they eventually learn the truth

Santa Sanity

You can still enjoy Santa as a family without embarrassing side effects.  After all, you can hardly go out near Christmastime without encountering the jolly old fat dude, and you can't control what other people say to your child about Santa.

With our children, we simply appeal to their natural love of story characters - Santa isn't real any more than Bob the Builder, Ben 10, or Dora, but all of them capture a child's imagination and the Santa story can be lots of fun.  It can even be educational, if you allow that sort of thing during your happy holidays, and can give you another option for "the reason for the season" if you aren't religiously inclined.

If your children already "believe" and any of this makes sense to you, then consider item 6 in our list.  You can at least take control of presenting them with the truth instead of letting them find out from an older child who laughs at them in front of a large group for being such a baby.


If this post has contained any spoilers for you personally, remember, it's always the parents' fault.  Ho Ho Ho!


  1. We have decided to talk about Santa as a fictional character too, never lying he is real. Children's capability of imagination is so great, that even though they are told he is not real, and they know it, they still somehow "believe". It was like that with my family, and my sister's family. The kids don't need to be lied to to get them to enjoy Christmas, santa, elves et all!! ( And if one is religious, like I am, one does not want the kids to start wondering which stories they should believe in, and which are lies.)

  2. Hey! Can you please email me? :)

  3. @Cat - to me it seems such an obvious compromise. I wasn't personally traumatised by the discovery of the truth, but honestly I can't remember how much I believed and when I didn't anymore.

    And you're right, they still pretend to believe and really enjoy it! Since they're in control of the game, that makes it all good.