What Shall We Do About Santa?
by: John Tyrrell
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Four years ago I was asked my views on Santa in Ask the Patriarch 209: What about Santa Claus? On reviewing it, I think the advice I gave there stands the test of time. "I think that we should probably treat Santa Claus as 'make believe' right from the beginning."
My confidence in that position was recently reinforced by a blog posting by Sam Harris: The High Cost of Tiny Lies. He writes "As parents, we must maintain our children’s trust—and the easiest way to lose it is by lying to them." Harris and his wife have a policy of not lying to their daughter. That includes not lying about the existence of Santa Claus. It strikes me that is a fine policy. It is consistent with my own rewrite of the 5th Commandment, from "Honour thy father and thy mother" to "Act such that you merit honour."
Remember, telling the kids Santa is real is not just a single fib - it leads you into an endless chain of lies as you have to answer about flying reindeer, fat men getting down chimneys — if you don't have a chimney, you need yet another lie, how Santa visits everywhere in one night, how Santa knows who's naughty and nice, elves, shopping center Santas, etc. It makes life a lot easier if you don't get started on that initial tiny lie.
Going back to Sam Harris: "If you deceive your children about Santa, you may give them a more thrilling experience of Christmas. What you probably won’t give them, however, is the sense that you would not and could not lie to them about anything else."
I think that's an important viewpoint.
It's time to stop telling children about Santa. Celebrate the season without claiming Santa exists. Sure the kids will still be immersed in Santa, you cannot help it — the character is too much part of the culture — but at home, you can make it clear that Santa is imaginary - he's make-believe — he's let's-just-pretend; and, Santa is not objectively real.
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