This might surprise you but I am a sucker for Christmas. For me, it’s a ritualistic family tradition that I have grown up with. Hence, my love for it has had nothing to do with religion. Last Sunday I attended the Carols by Candlelight at Como Park in Melbourne. The singers were mostly D grade and the performances were bland and uninteresting. However, I loved the Christmas spirit that was present. The closeness of families, couples and friends. Happiness and celebration was in abundance. I felt very comfortable and elated and I realized that the Christmas spirit is still alive within me.
The Christmas magic has mostly evaporated from me. It’s because I am no longer a child and I have no children of my own but it’s still special to me. Watching Santa Claus come out onto the stage, I was reminded of my childhood relationship with Santa Claus. I watched all the children screaming out his name with excitement. Then I started thinking whether lying to a child about the existence of Santa Claus is appropriate or not. I think that it is appropriate and the most charming and safe lie a parent can tell.
Santa Claus was a big part of the magic that was lost when I was no longer a little child. I was raised with the belief that Santa Claus would visit me with presents every Christmas Eve. I would write Santa a ‘thank you letter’ and I would set out cookies and port as refreshments. The reindeer were given carrots. Christmas morning was my favorite part of the year. My Christmas tree and stocking were filled with presents, directly from Santa Claus and his North Pole enterprise.
I never questioned Santa’s illogical Christmas delivery plan. How can one man travel the entire world delivering presents to every child in one night? What about different time zones? None of these facts ever entered my mind as I got older. I just accepted the story because I wanted to believe it. It gave me so much joy, why would I ever want to reject it?
I was ten years old when I found out that Santa Claus did not exist and that his presents were from my parents. The sting of disappointment overwhelmed me and then I felt nothing. I expected it as a fact and moved on. The myth of the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy were discovered the year before and I had the same reaction that I had with Santa Claus. The loss of the magic is what stung me.
My parents told me the truth. I had never heard other children at school ever mention that Santa Clause was not real. My parents never used it as a form of blackmail. The whole “Santa Claus won’t bring you gifts if you are naughty” was never uttered. If I was naughty I was disciplined for it and privileges were temporarily taken away. They never dragged Santa’s good name into it. I understand that some parents might use Santa Claus to control behavior because it’s all too easy to do so. Parents also use a multitude of angles in order to get children to behave well. Santa Claus is certainly not their only ammunition.
Some argue that it encourages children to mistrust parents and that it teaches children to lie. I think is a far too literal opinion of the lie. Quite often, we tell our children white lies for a variety of reasons. We are constantly “lying” to please our children and to make them happy. Sooner or later these white lies stop and I don’t believe that it affects their lives in any significant way. It simply keeps up elements of childhood magic. I would like to meet a person who has been negatively affected in some way by the Santa Claus lie.
I am a big believer in giving children magic and encouraging a vibrant imagination. We all lose our innocence and childhood at some point. Let the children lose themselves in the harmless white lie. I remember that feeling it gave me as a child. I certainly would not want to take that spark away from a child of my own. Not prematurely anyway….
Check out my article on solo cinema going here