Is Santa Claus Good for Children?
I am aware of some controversy about that rotund, jolly man who lives in the North Pole. His only purpose is to bring toys to good children. Is this little white lie we tell our children good or bad?
I was browsing the books in Costco in November, three years ago. A child sat in a shopping cart in front of me. I could see he was about six years old. As I looked up for another book, I saw a man approaching down the aisle. He had longish white hair and beard. He wore a green and red checked shirt and jeans. And yes, a pair of rimless spectacles. The boys back was to me, but I saw his little body stiffen. His head turned, following the man, smiling now, as he passed. I saw the boy’s face. It was full of awesome incredulity. He stared after the Santa-like man until he could no longer see him. It was clear, the little boy believed with joy and anticipation. It’s a sweet image that comes back to me every Christmas.
Really good things happen to us in life for which we have no real knowledge of how they came about. Do we ask why our ticket won the lottery? Why our novel won the contest? I think waking up and finding toys scattered around a Christmas tree, where there was nothing when I went to bed, is one of the happiest memories in my life. I don’t feel betrayed or duped. In fact, I told the same tale of Santa to my kids. When I couldn’t answer their questions, like: “How will Santa come to our house when we don’t have a chimney?” My pat answer: “He has magic.”
One day I came home from shopping for Christmas toys and piled them on my bed. Before I could hide them, I went to answer the door. And then I went to make dinner, put in a load of laundry, or some other house chore, and forgot about the presents. My already suspicious kids saw them and figured it out. Bright little things. Just like they figured out the dog didn’t really go to a farm. But I digress. They never held Santa against me or their dad.
I think the Santa myth also makes the parents happy. The story of Santa is no different than the stories we read in books, even as adults. Don’t we believe as we read? And don’t we love it when a book takes us in entirely?
I cannot see the harm. Children will grow up to reality all too soon. I think Santa Claus is good for them. What so you think?