Saturday, December 23, 2006

Santa - Lies and Deceit

There are only two days left before Christmas. Two whole days before Santa comes to visit! You might have heard of him. He's the jolly and pot-bellied old guy who doesn't look a day older (or younger) every year, has a big 'ole white beard, and brings us our presents every year. Except for one thing...HE'S NOT REAL! And yet, every year, countless children around the globe are led to believe that Santa, his band of toy-making elves, and his flying reindeer actually exist. They are victims of the most elaborate global lie, and parents think it's cute!

Fortunately for me, I was never raised to believe that Santa Claus existed. While growing up, I secretly laughed at the children around me who would talk about Santa bringing them presents at Christmas. I knew full well that in a few years, their parents would have "the Santa talk" with them, and that their little world would come crashing down.

Can you imagine what that does to some kids? For years, parents do everything in their power to convince them that Santa exists. Oftentimes, kids are curious and smart enough to question some of the holes in the story. How is Santa going to be able to make all of the toys in time for Christmas? How can Santa come if we have no chimney? But parents just say things like "Santa's elves help him make all of the toys for all of the children in the world", and "Even though we don't have a chimney, Santa will come". Then, after years of this charade, parents decide that their kids are "old enough" to know the "truth" about Santa: Santa isn't real. Ouch. That has got to hurt, and some kids are really hurt by that sudden revelation. For an adult, it's the equivalent of finding out that the person you were married to for the last 10 years had a sex change operation 15 years earlier but never told you until now. How would you react to that kind of news? Not too pleasant, is it?

How can teaching children to believe in Santa and then telling them that he doesn't exist after all be nurturing? Most good parents like to instill values good values, like the fact that lying is bad. How can children trust their parents if they were lied to for so many years? What kinds of values are those? If children are old enough to be taught the difference between good and bad and right and wrong, they can certainly be old enough to know that Santa is a great little children's story but that parents buy their gifts at Christmas. No harm in that.

Some would argue that teaching a child about Santa encourages creativity and imagination. There are still plenty of ways of encouraging creativity in children without lying to them. That's what storytelling and arts and crafts are for.

So parents, spare your children the pain. Santa is a great children's story, but why not just leave it at that?


No comments: