The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ho, Ho, Who?

           Maybe it's because I don't have small children anymore and my one grandchild  is too young to know much about what's happening yet, but I'm starting to not believe in Santa.  Okay, call me a humbug or a scrooge or grumpy old man if you like--I'm not really, but the Santa thing is somewhat disturbing to me at times.  What hath we wrought?  So today my question is:

Should we be perpetuating the Santa myth?

         All of us in the United States and most other western civilization countries have grown up with a Santa awareness and many of us raised our own children with the Santa tradition.  I have pictures of all of my children at various stages of their lives sitting on Santa's lap.  I recall taking them to the old  Miller and Rhodes Department Store (now faded into history)  in downtown Richmond, Virginia for the top of the line "real" Santa with primo priced pictures.  Other pictures are with dorky Santas at the nearby mall. But sure I did it. I told my kids there was a Santa and I guess they are none the worse for it.  And I grew up with it and, sure my dreams were shattered, but I survived.

         Let's be honest.  Santa has become just another commercial scam artist lining his pockets with our hard-earned dough while we tell our kids that this kind hearted soul is going to bring them a bunch of material goods for them to get tired of after a few days. And who exactly is paying for all this?--certainly not Santa Claus.  It's bad enough that our own kids don't give us credit for things we do for them and now we even have to give some bearded guy in a red suit credit for giving them all their presents at Christmas.

        We weave a web of deceit trying to perpetuate the myth of Santa Claus as we teach our kids unscientific principles such as Santa living at the North Pole with a bunch of elves and traveling throughout the entire world in a flying sleigh pulled by flying reindeer.  Even the kids start questioning the logistics of the whole operation. What do we do?  We make up another story about how and why it all works.  We know it's not true, but we tell our kids as though it is.  If it's not true then it must be a lie.  We have to lie in order to keep the myth of Santa alive in their little minds. 

          And what about the stress we must be causing our children?  As they hear about the current global warming conference and all of the threats to the polar regions, surely the kids must be starting to get worried sick about Santa's habitat and how the lives of all the elves and reindeer must be threatened to extinction which would mean that one day there would be no one to distribute material possessions to all of the world's children on Christmas eve. 

      I do believe that this Santa story instills greed in the hearts of our kids. I wonder if any study has been done to correlate the rise in consumerism to the intensified promotion of the Santa myth.  It may well be that we could actually blame Santa on the current financial problems.  Maybe that's the real origin of the phrase "in the red".  What's with this guy wearing red anyway and going around with a beard that makes him look a tad like Karl Marx?  Maybe the government should checking into the whole Santa conspiracy.

         On the other hand, the man and his story is a beloved tradition.  Think of all those happy Santa songs we start hearing at this time of year--don't they just brighten your mood?  Or the beloved "twas the night before Christmas" poem when the family is visited by  jolly old St. Nick (oh-oh Old Nick is another name for Satan-- but let's not go there).  All of the familiar Santa imagery festively festoons our yards, cards, and fireplace mantles.  There's not much more smile inducing as a big red plastic Santa with ligthts inside to make it glow happily at night.  We can't let go of Santa, he's been around for generations.

        Economically speaking the Santa tradition helps move the money around.  Christmas spending is one of the most important economic drivers of the year.  However, let's put aside the entire gift giving thing since that could easily happen without the existence of Santa Claus.  Let's just talk about the Santa character. First of all there are the Santa costumes and all of the accessories that go with it including the Karl Marx beard.  This is not an insubstantial industry and is related to the Halloween costume industry (see my many posts on Halloween in September and October). 

         Also, there are the Santa players themselves (they must number in the thousands)--these guys are playing a gig that helps them put food on the table and pay a few bills.  It all adds to the economy.  I could go on and on about the economic influences but that would take far too long. Let's just say that if Santa were a real person who owned a license on his name and image, he'd be a gazillionaire.

       I guess the real case for Santa is the magic of the character.  When you see the wonderment in a child's eyes as they see Santa and dream of  Santa's Christmas eve visit, it's heartwarming.  In their innocence they are not thinking greed, they are thinking sugar plum fairies and Red Ryder air rifles ("you'll shoot your eye out").  It's dreams and imaginations and a time of our lives that lasts for a few fleeting years.  It is magic that is real and imaginary characters that live for a time in our lives and live on later in our hearts and minds.  Is Santa a lie?  When we read a novel or any fiction, it's not real--is it a lie?

         So I leave it to you.  I've tossed out a few ideas to you.  What's your opinion of Santa Claus?  What do you tell or have you told your children?  Is the myth harmful?  Is there another way you would like to see the Christmas season handled?

         Oh, and by the way,  have a very Merry Christmas!


  1. Here is my take on Santa. The myth is harmless and lots of good fun. We tell our boys that santa is not real and Mummy and Daddy bring the gifts, but we still play all the Santa games and join in all the fun. My main problem with Santa is that frankly he is a lie. He does not exist and I will not lie to my boys. Why should they believe me when I tell them there are no monsters under their beds if I also tell them that Santa is real AND for that matter the tooth fairy, Easter Bunny etc? I think it is fine to play the games, leave the cookies out, pretend we can hear sleigh bells ring etc but at the end of the day we tell the boys that he is just good fun. Not a real person. I don't think any of the magic of Christmas has been lost for them and I think a lot of trust has built between us because they know we are up front and honest. That is my take anyway.

  2. As I posted on my blog in a comment, I have never heard of any child being affected adversely by Santa lies for a lifetime. I have heard many people after their children are raised say, they wish they had told them truth. I find that interesting.

    Although, I too feel like I should have been truthful about Santa, it was fun for my children and probably me. The only thing is, as a Christian, we have to make sure Jesus is considered number one during the season and be sure our children know that he is not a lie. And that He is the real reason we celebrate Christmas.

  3. I actually read somewhere (I wish I remembered where) that telling kids about Santa does affect them adversely. It was an interesting read about how we live in a culture where lies are okay...and then we see the implications in the workplace, relationships, politics, etc. I don't know that I necessarily agree with this, but I thought I would put it out there.

    Second, I just recently learned about Saint Nicholas and how he was trying to help two women who couldn't pay for their weddings. This could be totally factually wrong, but wasn't the original purpose of Christmas to give money...which then got translated into toys?

    Lastly, I just want to say that the "idea" of Christmas is still so wonderful despite how crazy people get. There is nothing like going out of your way trying to figure out what someone likes/wants and then to open up a gift. I have been trying to figure out what my husband got me for Christmas and I find myself acting like a little girl about it. It's not about the gift necessarily, but it is about everything that comes with it.

    Okay, that is all for now!

  4. The blog and the comments are great. I enjoyed the questioning and perspectives. I've also wrestled with the notion over the years. From the time our children are old enough to understand, we are telling them Jesus is real and Santa is real. Then as they get older we say, by the way Santa was not real but Jesus is real. I can hear there little minds going wait a minute, someone owes me an explanation!
    We still do the Santa thing with our children. What we try to do is as we see them getting older and contemplating the issue seriously, we are honest with them. With my children it has been around Ten years old although I was eighteen when I was told the truth (Haha).

  5. Thanks for the provocative subject. The Santa Myth could be told as a story much like we tell the Christmas Carol story but the way we do it now tells children that there is a way to get "something for nothing." Yes, they are supposed to be good but they never see examples of kids who don't receive presents because they were bad so I don't think that part of the message gets through.

    If Santa didn't already exist, I hardly think we'd choose to make him up and try to tell our children that he was real ... or instill the idea that they are "entitled" to lots of presents ... or use the idea of presents as a carrot for being "good." Santa is cute and fun but we've turned him into a meaningless metaphor of commercialism.

    The commercialization of Christmas, just like the overall commercialization of our culture, deserves a great deal of re-thinking. Some even call the marketplace the great new religion of our time. We definitely give it enough of our time and money for it to be considered a religion.

  6. rLEE-b ~
    What?! Are you trying to say that THERE IS NO SANTA?! How un-American! What kinda Communist are you? ;o)

    Seeing as how Santa brings lotsa joy to little children and none of the children are hurt by a few short years of magic lies, I say: LONG LIVE SANTA CLAUS! UP WITH SANTA!

    Oh, wait. Some "experts" out there claim that lying to your children about Santa Claus really does cause them some psychological harm? Yeah, well, the trouble is that I have yet to meet a psychologist or psychiatrist who wasn't totally wacked! And let's not forget too soon that some "experts" told us in the 1970s that by now there would be no food or water on the planet and the air would be unfit to breathe due to overpopulation. Some "experts" told us that the world was gradually freezing and all life on Earth would die as a result. A couple of decades later, some other "experts" began telling us that the globe was warming and this would cause the seas to rise and kill us all.

    DOWN WITH EXPERTS! Send all "experts" and lawyers to N.Y.C. and surround it with barbed wire and machine gunners. It'll make for a better America!

    Here's what I say: Lie to your kids about Santa Claus, but tell them the TRUTH about Global Warming. Tell 'em Santa is in no danger because Global Warming is a load of poppycock dreamed up by Marxists and their fellow travellers to reduce the quality of life in America so they can level the global playing field, dismantle our Constitutional rights, and create a One World Government where everyone on the planet can be equally miserable. The lie about Santa will die in just a few years, but the TRUTH they know about Global Warming and so-called "experts" will live a lifetime and make them free!

    Yes, my folks lied to me about Santa, but that never undermined my confidence in what they told me later about important matters, because even a child knows when it's imperative that their parents are speaking the truth.

    rLEE-b, I'll lighten the mood now by leaving you with one of my favorite Yuletide quotes:

    As an adult, Shirley Temple once said: "I stopped believing in Santa Claus when my Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph."

    ~ Doggtor McMe
    Author of the book "In Defense Of Santa"

  7. Everyting is beautiful and enjoying when not overmaterialized, isn't it?

    Thanks for visiting.


  8. I don't have children yet so I can't really give the parental perspective on this but I can throw my 2 cents as a former child (and sometimes still a child) and as a budding "grown-up". As a child obviously getting gifts at a young age is great and we of course did appreciate those gifts from Santa. However, I think we still would have appreciated the gifts if we knew they were from our parents and it probably would have strengthen the bond between parent and child even more. Instead there is a feeling of let down when you find out all along that Santa is a myth perpetrated on you by your parents. Probabaly would have been better off knowing it was from our folks all along.

    As for my persepctive now, the idea of Santa really bothers me (it's also strange that when you mix around the letters in Santa you get Satan). I would also like to group the Easter Bunny into this discussion both of which have been it seems formulated by the corporate structure to make money from two of the most important days in history. What they have also done is drawn attention away from the true celebration of these holidays meaning the birth of Chirst and the resurrection of Christ, both of which are the basis of the most widespread religous belief system in the world. What I also notice is that this was not done to the important days in other belief systems such as Hannukah or Ramadan or any other day. One idea is that these other religions were not as money driven and intertwined with so many governments of the developed world as the main stream Catholic/Christian Church. Now when you say the word "Christian" everyone asks for more specification meaning that word has become so diluted from it's origin almost 2,000 years ago. It reminds me of a quote from Oscar Wilde that says "if Jesus Christ were alive today the one thing he would not be is a Christian". Now I don't see that as a knock on a Christ-following person but a knock on the term "Christian" which has become so diluted by other focuses such as church structure, huge cathedrals like the Vatican, status in the church, money etc. This enormous religious structure known as "Christianity" has brought Santa and the Easter Bunny upon itself by being so wide and thin rather than thick and narrow

    So in conclusion I guess I could have summed this up into 7 simple words that could have saved you all this vomit of words I am putting on Lee's blog. Those words are "Jesus is the reason for the season"

  9. When I was growing up for some reason I always knew there wasn't a Santa. My dad tried in great efforts to make it seem like there was like putting from santa on the presents, but for as long as I can remember I knew that he wasn't real. I don't know if it's because I was just too smart for something like that to get past me or my older sister ruined it for. I can't be too sure, but I knew my dad was just trying to play along and make my child hood as normal as possible. I don't have resentment for him "trying" to lie to me I knew it was just in good fun.

  10. Santa to me, is the embodiment of "Magic". The original Santa (St. Nicholas) came from Turkey. He did wear red and green robes, and gave children in his area many gifts.

    This image of St Nicholas of course spread thru Europe, and is what he is today. I don't think there is anything "wrong" with Santa, but EVERYTHING wrong in how many of us can only express love, appreciation. and a sense of "Magic" thru materialism. Santa did not do that, we did.

    We all have our fairy tales and myths that we choose to believe. Some may call it religion, some may call it hope, but without them, we are lost.

    Gifts that are given to us can be many, but love,health and family are the best. Santa represents all of that to us.


  11. As I read this I can't help but smile, it's a very good article, profound to say the least. However, being who I am and raised in the raw reality of the South and poverty, the first thing we were taught is that there is no Santa Claus.

    And so the lies that others were fed from the moment they popped out of the womb, did not trickle down to us. We knew that if we received gifts; mostly used clothing, left over food from others kitchens, and as sharecroppers we got fruits and nuts basket, with very large turkey, sometimes a ham, from the master at Christmas, alone with the used clothing --- we called it a blessing and gave thanks, and blessed the person that gave us the gifts. But we never celebrated Christmas.

    Mama said that if we celebrated anything, it was the "art of survival" under all conditions, and the "joys of acceptance”. This was Christmas to us, and when we were given these gifts, no matter by whom, no matter the time or place, we celebrated and blessed the givers.

    I have discovered the truth is harder to live with than a lie, so it easy to tell a lie when you want to make someone happy. The truth seldom does this. I never lied to my children about this holiday, but they all celebrate it with their children --- it's a matter of choice. However, my grandchildren know the truth, but they also love the gifts that believers give them during this time of year.

    I don't judge others by their beliefs, I give them the "gift of acceptance" and I celebrate with them the "art of survival" --- in these hard times. And when the spirit moves me, I sing all the wonderful songs this season is famous for, because it makes me feel good to do so!

    Thank you for dropping in at my place, I so appreciate your kind comment. Indeed, I see I am going to have to hang out here … there is substance!

  12. Emilee, you took the words right out of my mouth. I don't remember ever thinking that he was real. I remember my father giving us gifts from "Santa" and I knew that it was his handwriting on the card. I may have believed it for a little while but I think kids are a lot smarter than we think. When I saw a gift from Santa I just smiled and felt so grateful that my father cared so much.

  13. I want to express my gratitude for all of the well thought out comments that were left for this post--this is the kind of thing I strive for not just on my Thursday debate topics, but everyday.

    Some of you have passed this way before. I always appreciate your great comments and I think you've outdone yourselves today. Wow!

    Welcome to my new visitors: Ken, Joyce, Yagmur-- I hope you will visit again often.

    Tommy Z -- I believe that was the first time you've made a comment and that was really good. Hope you come back.

    Ada & Emilee -- that was so nice. You're both so sweet.

  14. Yo! TOMMY Z ~
    I agree with you that "Jesus is the reason for the season", but I thought you might wish to know that the quote "If Christ were here now, there is one thing He would not be - a Christian" actually originates with Mark Twain. It comes from his Notebook of 1897.

    ~ "Lonesome Dogg" Stephen

  15. the topic is very new...well sometimes telling lies dont create a prob...slowly n slowly a child accepts the fact and understnds the truth....the child has soft heart and when he gets a gift from a character like santa whose appearance is so pleasant, he feels till the kids are happy its gud...but i just imagine one day they coming up to u and telling dad, do u kn their is no one like santa...:-) and at that time u would be surprised to hear this...wat will be ur answer then.....hmmm??

  16. Merry Christmas to u tooo

  17. Thank you, Rohini,
    The games are fun for the children, but when they come out and ask and you know their question is begging for the truth, then you should give them the truth.


Go ahead and say something. Don't be afraid to speak your mind.
I normally try to respond to all comments in the comment section so please remember to check the "Email follow-up comments" box if you want to participate in the comment conversation.

For Battle of the Bands voting the "Anonymous" commenting option has been made available though this version is the least preferred. If voting using "anonymous" please include in your comment your name (first only is okay) and city you are voting from and the reason you chose the artist you did.

If you know me and want to comment but don't want to do it here, then you can send me an email @ jacksonlee51 at aol dot com.