Santa and other stories

A bit of harmless fun, lying to children, or downright abuse?

In the run up to last year’s festive season, I saw an item on Facebook about the purported conversation between a father and son over whether Santa was real. I rather liked it and so, although something I rarely do, I shared it.

In brief this is that story story :

Yes, Santa exists, but he’s not an old man with a beard in a red suit. That’s just what we tell kids. You see, kids are too young to understand the true nature of Santa Claus, so we explain it to them in a way that they can understand. The truth about Santa Claus is that he’s not a person at all; he’s an idea. Think of all those presents Santa gave you over the years – I actually bought those myself. I watched you open them. And did it bother me that you didn’t thank me? Of course not! In fact it gave me great pleasure. You see, Santa Claus is the idea of giving for the sake of giving, without thought of thanks or acknowledgement.

When I saw that woman collapse on the subway last week and called for help, I knew that she’d never know that it was me that summoned the ambulance. I was being Santa Claus when I did that. So now you know, you’re part of it, you have to be Santa Claus too. That means you can never tell a young kid the secret, and you have to help us select Santa presents for them, and most important, you have to look for opportunities to help people.

This tale aligned with my experience of my daughter finding out about Santa – she was very touched by the fact that I’d been giving her gifts without finding it necessary to receive thanks or acknowledgement. So, I was especially surprised when a friend commented

Sorry, it’s a nice story but telling lies to children is abuse and making up other lies and stories to cover it up just reinforces the deceit. I have experienced the fallout.” 

I don’t doubt for one minute that he’s telling the truth, but I was surprised at the evident strength of his feeling. The more I thought about it, the more I felt it was important to do a bit of data-mining as, just because my experience had been positive, I shouldn’t close my eyes to the possibility I was simply lucky.

What’s been your experience? Are Santa – and other such stories – harmless fantasies, or is it lying and abuse?


© Debra Carey, 2020

20 comments

  1. Aw, I think the story is sweet. We have to do something to soften out what will inevitably become a blow. I figure though, we all thought Santa was real at some point and we are all okay knowing he’s not. At 41 I still find Christmas Eve the most exciting night of the year because everyone wants to believe in that magic. Even before I had kids as an adult I felt that way. My youngest will be 9 by Christmas and I think this past year was the last she will full on believe. She has found Amazon order lists and other things. But I always tell her he’s real if she believes he is and I’m hoping she will always be one who tries to carry on magic on Christmas, she’s been warned about never telling little ones she is doubtful!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sam, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas (when it finally comes round) with your youngest & have the very best of fun with her if it’s going to be the last one. It’ll be wonderful if she feels the same way as we both clearly do about the celebration.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, I hope so! We managed to get over the “Santa shops at Hallmark” bump in the road a few years ago but I think my luck is finally coming to an end 😂😂😂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Someone once told me that I was a horrible mother because I lied to my child and told her there was a Santa Claus. I have no problem with telling kids things, because sometimes you need to have an imagination, and sometimes you just need to believe in things.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Santa is a harmless ruse. Of all the lies that a child will hear in life, Santa [and the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy] is [are] about as benign as can be.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Years and years ago, an in-law explained why she won’t let her children watch any Disney movies because of the subliminal messages of evil that are omnipresent in each film. I just stared back in disbelief. Like Ally, I think Santa, et. al., are pretty harmless compared to what each child will hear later in life. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “telling lies to children is abuse and making up other lies and stories to cover it up just reinforces the deceit”

    I had to pause my initial response, take a deep breath and delay for several hours before I could comment on this Debs. I have no doubt that your friend is perfectly sincere about their opinion and may well have had “fall-out” to cope with, but that flat statement lacks nuance, proportionality and sense!

    I think that it is the first of Terry Pratchett’s ‘Science of Discworld’ volumes that, in the preface, he explains that quite often you have to have ‘lies to children’ followed by ‘lies to adults’ to explain scientific concepts that are difficult to grasp. One, that I remember from my secondary school days, tries to explain how electricity flows through a circuit by comparing it to the flow of water through pipes, and in my day electricity flowed from positive to negative. Many years later I discovered that in fact the *electrons* travel in the opposite direction from negative to positive, and people knew about this from the days of Edison. (It is a bit complex and my example is a bit simplistic but – lies to children!).

    Sometimes it is necessary to be economical with the truth to a child to protect them, but the age and capacity of the child should be the prime criterion. With children -and some adults – honesty often needs to be tempered with common sense and consideration. (I wanted to say ‘kindness’ but that often translates into a simple-minded soppiness that does nobody any good.

    The story of Santa should, in due time, lead into the real story of St Nicholas and its underlying theme of though for others and generosity. And now I shall stop!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hallmark were advertising that Santa shops there? The horror – don’t they stop to think how that’s going to play out? Unbelievable!

    Like

  9. Ah, you clearly have friends like mine 🙂 I get there’s circumstances where Santa is an impossible expectation – like when there is no money, but I believe the concept of the joy of giving without expecting thanks story fits there too.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Subliminal messages of evil eh? Well, I agree they set an unrealistic expectation of the prince who’s coming to rescue the girl … but otherwise, I’m clearly missing something 😉 Welcome back to posting Marty, I’ll be over shortly to catch up.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Alan, I wish I’d been able to respond to his comment quite as well and completely as you have here. I’m afraid I decided to step over it … Mind you, he’s since posted other stuff on my Facebook page which has made me stop wondering and decide I don’t plan to be affected by it any longer. A shame, but boundaries are my new byword 🙂

    Like

  12. I get that some people might feel cheated, as children, upon learning that Santa isn’t a real person. That wasn’t my experience. I was the oldest child, so I felt special being let in on the secret and helping to perpetuate the fantasy for my younger sisters. It was a rite of passage for me, to learn the truth. I also loved being able to participate in the secret gift-giving and was so proud and excited to use my meagre allowance to purchase some very modest presents for my family. When I look back, I fondly remember the sense of magic and wonder instilled in me by my parents telling me about Santa Claus. I wouldn’t give that up for anything and yes, my kids were raised to believe in Santa. Until it was time for them to not believe.

    Deb

    Liked by 1 person

  13. No, that one was all on me unfortunately! 😂😂😂 My Christmas stocking (and Easter Basket) go-to is always Hallmark so once she was old enough to realize ‘hey, that’s an actual store!’ after seeing their logo on things for years, I had to tell her Santa must shop there, lolol. There was no other way out of it, haha!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Deb, my experience was the same being the oldest, although my daughter missed out on the knowing before younger siblings aspect, she very much understood the giving without receiving gratitude aspect. I was waiting for someone to chime in with a negative experience over finding out – being scarred for life, but I guess my FB commenting friend is the only one in my immediate circle. I cannot deny that I’m glad to hear it as I really would love my grandchildren to enjoy the Santa story 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Oh dear Sam, caught! It happens 🙂 My daughter figured it out by recognising something I didn’t think she’d seen before but she’d spotted it in my wardrobe. They’re smart our kids 🙂

    Like

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