Day 167: The Problem(s) With Santa

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There are so, so many.

Earlier today, Mommy Nearest posted this article on Facebook.  I took it as a sign that the time has come to address it, even though I had initially planned to write about the Jubilee of Mercy instead.

The author explains that she did the whole Santa thing with her kids, and now that she’s done it and thought about it, she feels guilty, and hopes other parents will make better choices.

Her arguments:

  1.  You are LYING to your kids.
  2. Keeping up the ruse is exhausting.
  3. Santa encourages you to become a lazy parent.
  4. Other kids will call you out on your lie.
  5. You’ll have to come clean one day.

All of these are valid points.  I would break it down a little differently.

  1.  You are LYING to your kids.  This should end the discussion, but I know it won’t, so…
  2. You are setting your children up to lack faith in things that are truly miraculous, which should be especially important if you are celebrating CHRISTMAS.
  3. Santa is creepy.  So, so, so creepy.

You are a lying liar pants on fire.  The author of this original article sums it up like this:

There is 0.00% truth there. So. You. Are. LYING. To your impressionable child, who looks to you and trusts you to give her the facts about the world.

Do you really want to be the first person in your child’s life to lie to her?  Or the second?  Or anywhere on that list?  I do not.  I will not.  At some point, your child is going to realize you lied, probably many, many times.  Whether on not she thinks of you as a scumbag is pretty much a crapshoot, but you will know the truth.  You lied, lied, lied.

One day, your little boy or girl is going to start growing up.  They are going to have serious questions about the world, and he or she is going to want answers from someone who tells the truth.  Someone who always tells the truth.  No matter what.  You can choose to be that person.  Or not.

If you’re not religious or spiritual, go ahead and skip this next one, but if you are, and I assume you must be, or you wouldn’t be celebrating Christmas in the first place, this should give you serious pause.  Here you are, telling little Suzie that there is this man who loves her and knows everything, this man we can never see or touch, but this man who knows and sees everything, and rewards good behavior with presents and bad behavior with lumps of coal.

Sound like anyone else you know?  What’s your play here?  What is your plan when Suzie finally realizes Santa is not real?  You do realize that objectively Santa sounds a lot like God, right?   And you did some pretty ridiculous things to convince her Santa was real, so imagine what you would do to convince her that God is real.  Yeah.  Not so good.

When I posted this article one of my most religious friends commented to say she thinks this article underestimates the power of wonder and innocence and is overthinking this whole parenting thing.  She advocated for encouraging children to share the Christmas spirit and joy with others and was concerned about children being crushed.  I’ll admit, I was surprised.

I agree that we constantly underestimate the power of wonder and innocence wholeheartedly – we need more of both.  I agree that we should encourage children to share the Christmas spirit and joy with others.  I agree that their sweet little spirits should never be crushed.  That’s why I think Santa is such a terrible concept.

There is enough magic – real magic – in Christmas without Santa.  And really, I get that the presents and the general concept have become part of the culture, but here is the great thing:  Saint Nicholas was a man who actually lived, and we celebrate his feast day in December (December 6th).  You can still tell your children that this great man gave gifts and surprises to children, and you can add that he was real, and his spirit lives on.  The best part?  You can say it an know you are telling the truth. Also, the guy full-on decked the heretic Arius at an ecumenical council, if you’re into that kind of thing.  “Better watch out, better not cry, better not say that there was a time when the Father was but the Son was not, ’cause Saint Nicholas is comin’ to towwwwn.”

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Finally, if none of these other arguments have convinced you, you must admit that Santa is creepy.  It’s a creepy, creepy idea.  This man who we never see and never know he is there (except when we see him at the mall and we are supposed to sit in his lap and hug him) is always watching us, keeping track of everything we do.  There was a Washington Post article concerned about Elf on the Shelf preparing children to live in a police state, well, Santa is no different.

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And really, it’s worse, because, again, and I’m saying it twice, because I don’t understand why this doesn’t bother people more, no one expects small children to sit on the elf’s lap.  Putting your child in a stranger’s lap is weird.  I should not have to explain why.

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I find it highly doubtful that anything I write is going to change anyone’s mind about Santa.  But I feel better knowing that I tried.  Ho ho ho.

 

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