The truth about Santa Clause
I remember one family at the fundamentalist Christian church I was involved with as a teenager, had taken the whole not telling lies thing to a very interesting extreme. They had decided that teaching their children not to lie, and then spinning them this tale about a Jolly old fellow dressed in Coca-Cola red went around the world at midnight on the 25th of December distributing gifts to all the “nice” children, was kind of hypocritical. At the time, I could see their point, but felt a little sorry for the kids that missed out on some of the magic and mystery of the festive season.
I went into adult hood as a sincere and devout fundamentalist Christian, and this idea started to play on my mind. I began to wonder if when I had children, I would tell them about Santa Clause. I started to come to the conclusion that maybe these parents had the right idea. I did not want my children applying the same logic to God as I forced them to apply to Santa Clause. I told my Mother of this decision, and she simply replied, “well you and your sister didn’t apply the same logic to God as you applied to Santa Clause”. This made me think for a second, but I judged that the risk was too great. I couldn’t bare the thought of my children loosing their faith in God because I had told them a lie about a mythical being in their early childhood.
Many years past, and a few years ago, now as an Atheist, I reconsidered the proposition (not that I am any closer to having children mind you). Looking at the scenario, I decided that, yes I want to tell my children about Santa Clause. About this mythical figure that can do amazing and magical things. A being that can defy the laws of nature that bind the rest of us, and that brings so much happiness in the form of the toys their little hearts most desire. I then want to allow them to come to the realisation that it is just mummy and daddy spinning them an elaborate fairy tale to make the season seem somehow magical.
My ex-partner thought I was just a sadist wanting to be cruel, but cruelness is certainly the last thing on my mind. I think it is a very powerful vehicle to teach two very valuable life lessons.
1. Things that sometimes seem magical, often (if not always) have a very logical and natural explanation. Just because we can’t see that explanation at this very moment, does not imply that we should accept the default and very unlikely explanation of “magic”.
2. Even people who love you sometimes lie to you for varying reasons. If you really want to know the truth, it is up to you to seek it, and be prepared for it. Truth, like life can sometimes be harsh.
In essence, I see it as a sort of panacea against fundamentalists attempting to indoctrinate my children (as they inevitably will, assuming I ever have any), into their faith.