It’s easy to lie to a 2-year-old. We just say, “Santa is a magical man who flies around the world in one night, sliding down chimneys, leaving toys and eating cookies,” and the poor things actually believe us.
In fact, for the very first time in their lives they rush to bed, because well, everyone knows Santa doesn’t come if they’re awake. He’s not very social I guess.
3 years of age and we can basically get away with the same version of the lie, but 4 comes around and our little ones begin to question. Oh, it’s not that they suspect that their own parents are lying. Why would they? They get spanked for lying and well, hypocrite is an adult word.
Still, they feel the need to clarify a few things and suddenly our lone snowflake bursts into a blizzard of white lies.
Son: How does Santa deliver all those presents in 1 night?
Us: Fast reindeer, helpers and tons of magic.
Son: How can he eat all the cookies without getting full?
Us: Oh, he’s fat, absurdly fat, and much more so in person than in the pictures.
Son: Well, then how does he fit down the chimneys?
Us: He uses magic to shrink himself.
Son: What if there’s a fire in the fireplace?
Us: Naturally, Santa wears a fireproof suit.
Son: What about the children that don’t have fireplaces?
Us: Oh for crying out loud, enough questions! If you don’t hurry to bed Santa won’t come at all!!!!
Yay! Our lie lived to fight another Christmas! But from here on it’s an uphill battle until, between the ages of 7 and 12, they finally call us out! No thanks to us; they figured the truth out on their own.
So, what do we do? Do we apologize? Of course not! We savagely recruit them, because we can’t have the truth breaking out among their younger siblings. For the first time in their entire lives, our kids hear it’s not only okay to lie…sometimes, but they won’t get any Christmas presents if they don’t!!! We can’t have them ruining Christmas! And nothing ruins Christmas like the truth.
Before you write me off as a Grinch for suggesting that there might be a better way, understand that years ago I was perfectly ready to perpetuate the lie in my own home. It is an American tradition, after all.
But then I had to ask, “Does this lie bring glory to God? Will my children still trust me when they discover the truth? Is it hypocritical to lie to my children when I’d spank them for the same behavior? And can’t children enjoy Santa Claus as the myth that he is, without adults trying to convince them that he is a real person? ”
Like all parents, I didn’t want to ruin Christmas by killing the magic. 1 white lie almost seemed like a reasonable price to pay for such joy. Then I remembered that I never believed in Santa growing up. My older brother told me the truth and you know what, Christmas was, and still is, my favorite time of year. The presents, carols, family, music, hot cocoa, cookies, games, tree and lights created plenty of excitement without Santa’s help.
Image Credit: Pixabay
One Christmas Eve, I remember shuffling over an icy parking lot. The air was frozen and heavy. How fitting it was to push back the big church doors exposing a rush of warmth. Strangers smiled as our family squeezed into a packed pew. I stood shoulder to shoulder with a stranger, but it wasn’t uncomfortable. We lit candles in the dark sanctuary as a choir of women sang, “O Come Emmanuel.” I was still young, but it was powerful, beautiful and moving just the same.
If I could recreate one moment in my life, it would be that one, in that Church, feeling the way I felt then. No one said anything about Santa, it was all about Jesus. That is the “true” Christmas magic I want for my kids!
What are your feelings about Santa?