American culture is littered with various Christmas traditions involving Santa Claus. We can all remember when we had an unbreakable belief that Santa Claus was real and delivered Christmas gifts to all the nice children in the entire world.
Santa Claus is so embedded into our culture that it has become socially acceptable to lie to children about his existence. In fact, it is more acceptable to lie about Santa than it is to reveal the truth. Almost nobody tells their children the real truth about Santa Claus.
In high school, I sat in on a class where a teacher was debating with his students about whether or not it was a good idea to tell children that Santa is real. Almost all of the teens in the class thought it would be cruel not to build up the elaborate dream of Santa.
And it’s true. Santa is magical. Almost everyone can recount stories of their childhood, waiting up for Santa to come deliver presents and falling asleep before they had the chance to catch him. I would bake cookies with my sister to leave out. always surprised when there was a bite missing in the morning.
My friends told me even more extravagant stories about their parents leaving flour footprints in their kitchen where Santa might have walked through, even stomping upstairs, making it sound like reindeer were on the roof.
In the malls, kids can’t wait to go sit on Santa’s lap to tell him all about the gifts they want to find under the tree this year. When kids see two Santas at the same time, parents might tell them that the imposters are Santa’s helpers.
But the high school teacher made a good point. He did not believe in killing the kids’ dreams. He simply wanted to expose his children to the truth. He never wanted to lie to them – about anything – including something as pivotal as the validity of Santa Claus.
Parents lie so passionately about Santa’s existence, and spend the entire period of their kids’ childhood convincing them that he is real. But as children grow, it becomes less and less acceptable to continue to believe in Santa beyond a certain age.
My 9-year-old brother Alex is at that age now. A lot of his classmates are beginning to understand that their parents are the ones who put the presents under the tree, and Santa is just a hired hand at the mall.
Alex, however, holds to the idea that Santa is real. He tells me that he gets presents every year because he still believes.
Our parents were a lot like the high school teacher. They never once lied to him about Santa. They always told him that our dad is the one who works hard to be able to afford gifts for us every year. Yet Alex clings to the idea that Santa rewards him for being nice, not naughty.
A lot of students on campus have children around this age as well. When do they begin to let go of the lie, and instead tell their kids the truth?
With Christmas just around the corner, what will they choose to do this year?