Christmas is a surprisingly controversial subject. You would think that a time that is about good cheer would provide more of it. But you have nostalgists on one hand and anti-capitalists on another and your hands will quickly fill with all of the different opinions of the different facets of Christmas.
I guess I need to first say that I’m Jewish. Enough so that we never came close to celebrating Christmas as a holiday. So I won’t be surprised if you discredit me as some sort of an uninitiated outsider.
I’m not a parent, either, but I don’t see how that would invalidate my opinion. I have worked with kids and have put a lot of thought into what I would or wouldn’t teach my own children someday.
This post is focused. Not anti-presents or anti-decoration or, by any stretch of the imagination, anti-Christmas.
It is anti-Santa.
Why do we perpetuate a lie? The only other circumstance I can think of (other than perhaps the Easter Bunny, which is pretty much the same thing), wherein a large portion of the public has the same lie to their kids is when children are told that the stork delivers babies. I am not someone who thinks that there are never situations where lying is handy/useful/a good option, but why in this case?
What message is sent to kids when we spend years deceiving them about the existence of someone that we know to not be real? How does this benefit them? What is gained by telling children that someone gave them presents other than the person that actually did? How would this not affect their sense of appreciation?
When we tell kids that whether they get presents or not depends on if they are good or not, then give them presents anyway, does that send the right message?
I’ve tried to understand the other side, but none of the pro arguments have seemed valid to me.
One defense is that Santa is an allegory; he represents giving. If so, treat it as just a story, not as a literal person that will be delivering presents while children sleep. Kids are certainly not seeing the allegory therein when they stay up waiting for sleigh sounds.
Another person said that she thought it was important for kids to believe in ‘magic’. This branches off into where I did not want to go, which is the religious/faith aspect. But there is a very clear distinction. If a parent truly believes that there is a Santa Claus, I would not begrudge them for teaching that to their kid. But when they know that there isn’t, what kind of a parent goes out of their way to plant an idea in their kid’s head that they know to not be true? How is this good parenting, as opposed to thoughtless nostalgia?
Parents can choose what to tell or not tell their kid in regard to issues that reduce innocence. But I have yet to see any defense that I respect in regard to blatantly lying about something that everyone of a certain age knows to not be the case. After I posted my status regarding this, a friend told me that just this year, her 8 year old sister bawled when their mother told her that there was no Santa.
I find it very difficult to stomach the arguments that a) this just isn’t a big deal or b) that there isn’t something inherently wrong with lying for no real reason.
Whatever messages that can be taught via Christmas are generally lost via its current culturally accepted incarnation.