Do You Lie to Your Kids About Santa Claus?

Do You Lie to Your Kids About Santa Claus?


I won't lie to my kids about Santa. They are going to get the straight-up truth. 

As a rule, as much as it is humanly possible, I don't lie to my kids at all.  

They know it when I'm sad, they know when I feel anxious or stressed out, they know where babies come from, and they are generally in tune with, and aware of the world around them.  

Of course, parenting is a balancing act, and I certainly don't expose them to anything I don’t think they're ready for, as much as I can help it.  

While I strive to be open and emotionally available and truthful, I also protect them from pain and trauma, and from certain challenges that they will, nonetheless, inevitably have to face at some point.  I am, I think—I hope--a very responsible gatekeeper.  

And by the same token, I won't lie to them about Santa Claus.  

Just as my own parents did with me, I will explain to my children that Santa Claus is absolutely, unequivocally, completely real.  As real as real as anything can be.  

Santa is a magical spirit, a saintly, pagan-ey, Christian-ey *and* secular spirit of generosity, kindness, goodwill, and the protection of children.  

He is both the embodiment *and* intangible symbol of comfort, safety, magic, the mysteries of winter, and of hope and warmth in the darkness. 

Santa will arrive at our house on Christmas eve, after the children are snug in their beds, with visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads, and he will eat up most of the shortbread and milk that we set out for him, and he will leave a letter for each of our children, describing and celebrating their talents, gifts, and their loveliness, and offering wishes for a new year filled with joy, light, energy and peace.  

Along with the letter, there will be a stocking full of oranges, pomegranates and a few special items: some useful gifts—a snorkelling flashlight perhaps? A couple of  small, interesting, or marvellous special gifts for each member of our family, and some chocolates and treats. And Santa also usually leaves one larger, more  significant present for each child—unwrapped of course! Santa doesn’t ever wrap presents for our family.  
Perhaps my favourite aspect of his presence, is that His elves always magically clean the house, which I am always especially pleased with.  Thank you Santa!

Every year, my kids anticipate the arrival of Santa Claus, knowing that no matter how irritated I, their mother might have been with them at times over the year, Santa loves and cares for *all* children no matter who they are, or what they have done, and deeply appreciates and upholds the fact that every kid is fundamentally right, good, and deserving—even while his gifts often vary from family to family—also a mystery unto itself.  

Do *I* know how Santa physically maneuvers through every chimney, or how he manifests his arrival for children who live in tenements, tents or churches?  

Nope, not really.  Not for me to say.  

I do help Sant out though, as much as I can, when it comes to our own home. I also do my best to help him out in the context of our community, in the form of giving to the food bank, re-gifting new unused, and gently used items from our home, and donating to various charities according to my ability.
Santa can’t do it ALL on his own, that’s for sure.

But if anything, my appreciation for, and belief in Santa has, over the years, grown. I loved Santa as a child, and even as I moved from the sensory emotive earlier years into the inquisitive, even doubtful pre-teen stage, during which I questioned everything, with passion,

Santa Claus felt safe, and sacred, and I can recall the very gradual way that I integrated my understanding of how Santa “works” into my consciousness.

There was never any “talk” about the ins and outs of how Santa Claus organized the implementation of his yearly, monumental task.

There was no event during which my parents sat me down and told me the "truth".  

The truth--I saw it then, and as I see now more than ever--is that Santa Claus is palpably real, and made real through us--with us, and in us, by the awesome power of narrative —very much like Jesus.  

Life isn't, I am afraid, fact.  

Life isn't science.  

Life is empirical ambiguity.  Life is nuance.  

This is the true gift.  

Reality is constant uncertainty and fluctuation, and if I have learned *anything* it is that Santa Claus might be one of the *only* things that's really real in this world of fracture, dis-ease, unrest, and constant change. 


I deeply hope (and see no reason to doubt)—and in fact see much evidence in favour of the possibility-- that my children's faith in Santa will transition seamlessly—as it did for me--from the literal belief in a strange elf who delivers gifts across the globe, to the metaphorical and incorporeal knowing that his spirit is present in anyone who chooses to engage with it—and that we may actually decide to take responsibility for doing so.  


I know for a fact (because I’ve done it) that if I were to ask my sixty-nine year old mother today, whether or not Santa Claus is "real", she would look at me, clear-eyed, and say "Of course he's real Yolande.  Why on earth are you asking me such a silly question?"  


I was an extremely privileged child--in all ways.  That said though, Christmas wasn’t by any stretch a consumerist extravaganza in our house.

 It was never about presents or consumption.  

My most memorable and very favourite Christmas present ever was from Santa, and it was a lifejacket.  My little sister and I both got one, to wear on canoe trips in the spring and summer.

 It’s hard to describe the thrill of seeing the lifejackets under the tree--I think they were presented being worn by two teddy bears--and Alex and I put those lifejackets on over our pyjamas, and we wore them for the duration of that Christmas day.  

In the family my husband and I have created, we unabashedly revel in, and celebrate the many commercial representations of Santa Claus that we see out and about, while at the very same time, actively pursuing a Christmas experience that focuses not on corporate crap, but on family togetherness, delicious traditional foods, Christmas carols, song, story, giving, and also my unapologetically progressive adaptation of the Jesus story which focuses on the beauty and perfection of, obviously, FreeBirth. 

Jesus was an anarchist, pacifist freak, who believed in the equality of all people, and in the rights of women and children in particular. And his primary example was his similarly  radical, strong, powerful mum, Mary—a pregnant teen, like I once was—who made the choice to listen to the ethereal message she perceived, and to take up to the challenge of mothering an exceptional child, the first aspect of which was giving birth to him in a barn of all places, under the stars—and under their own star.

This is, of course, one of the most stunningly lovely Freebirth stories ever, but also such a powerful account of faith in general—faith in the body *and* in our connection to the divine.  

I believe profoundly that like Jesus, every child is born encircled by a halo of fundamental universal adoration, whoever they are.

Birth is always miraculous, beautiful, holy, and also normal, I think.  

Babies can be born safely in barns and stables and churches and cabins.  

Birth is precious and wonderful and we are all children who need and warrant unconditional love.  

Christmas is just a magical swell time.

And...there's Santa Claus who, for me—and I know this probably sounds, or IS, sacrilegious—is an extension of the good that I can find present in the story of the son of God—in whose image we are, as it’s said, created too.  

And, I can also happily admit that laid out in these terms, Christmas in the 2019 sounds complicated and contrived —and probably sounds especially so for those who don’t share follow the same traditions or who just simply don’t share my perspective, and I wholeheartedly understand and accept that. 

That said though, the suggestion that I am *lying* to my children in asserting my totally authentic conviction that Santa Claus is real, is utterly preposterous, and quite sad to me.

 I am extremely proud to be able to offer my relatively insignificant (all told) services as a helper to Santa on Christmas eve and that does nothing to mitigate my abiding faith in the transformative quality of story—in fact, my own meagre involvement in the story bolsters my own faith.  I do a little organizing, and a tiny bit of channelling, and the rest, really, is up to him—but the magic feeds my soul.  

There are so many smug, self-righteous, and literal, almost legalistic interpretations of this issue—so many articles written, especially lately, on the subject of navigating the supposed Lie that is Santa Claus, and I wonder if this isn’t related to our current cultural obsession with identity, and moral certainty and the bizarrely normalized delusions we are increasingly mandated to validate in others.

Maybe Santa Claus is a stand-in for the truth-telling that we are, as a culture, failing to do when it comes to issues that are, in my view, that much more important to debunk.

This is such an interesting reversal: that it is supposedly traumatizing for children to have to grapple with the realness or intangibility of Santa Claus, yet be indoctrinated into certain other belief systems that I actually think are far *less* plausible (and much more dangerous in real, political terms) than even the *most* literal interpretation of Santa, to the point that many of us are compelled to lie publicly in order to uphold the mental and intellectual contortions required of the woke left.

Anyway. I digress, just a little. 

In fact, I couldn’t care less that some other parents may decide to tell their children that Santa Claus is a story, a myth or a lie.  This shouldn’t affect my kids, even when they do encounter one of those resolutely supercilious children whose parents have imbued them with a stranglehold on "accuracy" and "rightness”.  

All I can do is hope that my kids have been inoculated against such rigidity by my own radical truth-telling.  

I myself remember coming home one day from school, to tell my mother that Sarah or Jenny had told me that that Santa isn't real.  "Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that", said Mum. “But don’t feel too bad for Sarah and Jenny.  We know that Santa is as real as you can imagine."  

Alas, lately, Horus, our 11 year old, Treva, our 9 year old, and Felix, who is only 7, have all come to me to say that they think *I* am Santa Claus. And I just can’t lie to them.

So I tell them that “*Of course* I’m not Santa Claus. I’m your mother—your dependably mediocre but nonetheless devoted mother.”

And my brilliant, savvy, sophisticated kids roll their eyes, and reply with “We KNOW you’re Santa Claus mum. Just say it. Just admit it.

And then of course I have to tell them that I will admit to nothing of the sort, and they roll their eyes again, and then they eventually give up.

And yet, our youngest daughter Xanthe, who is three, has, in the past couple of weeks, been marching around the house and approaching her siblings and me and Lee and saying with heartbreaking confidence, “Mum, Treva, Santa Claus IS reAL”.

And to their credit, Xan’s older siblings smile and say, “He sure is, Xan!"

My children’s varying states of skepticism aside, I do hope that they will grow up to be adults who can differentiate between truth and fact, and who will have the ability to appreciate the profound authenticity of myths and stories that tell of and create, magic, generosity and transformation. 

And I truly *truly* hope that whatever your take on Christmas, or not-Christmas, or Santa Claus, or Jesus or God or atheism or agnosticism or any of the deities, religions or belief systems, that you have a love-filled, joyous season. 


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