I risk sounding like a scrooge here, but the last few years have found me having a conflict with Christmas. To be clear, I don’t have a problem with the holiday, and certainly not with the Reason for the season. I love Christmas; I'm listening to Christmas music as I type, and I have every intention of trimming a tree and attempting to fill my home with the Christmas spirit over the next few days. But one of my struggles has to do with how most of us celebrate Christmas, and that would include me.
While we may share our bounty with a needy family or two during the holidays, and serve up soup in a soup kitchen to the homeless, I dare say that most of our time during the Christmas season is spent on doing things for ourselves and our immediate families, and I dare say that the bulk of money spent at Christmas is spent on those who don’t need a thing, including, and especially, our children.
And, now for the biggie. Can I just lay it all out here? I’m no saint, but I’m glad I never allowed my daughter to believe in Santa Claus. Oh, sure, I took her to the mall a time or two, where she had her picture made with him, and we talked about the idea of Santa Claus, but, call me Grinch if you will, I couldn’t tell her a lie, and I didn’t want her hopes and dreams to be dashed when she learned the truth later on. But more than anything, I didn’t want her to have mixed signals when it came to why we celebrate Christmas. I didn’t want her to think that all of the fun gifts she received were placed there by a jolly little man in a red suit, flying through the air using a sleigh and a pack of reindeer for transportation.
I know I’ve gone out on a limb here, and I have friends who have called me old fogy in the past, but that doesn't offend me. The truth is, when my little daughter looked up at me, with trusting eyes the color of chocolate drops, and asked, “Mommy, is Santa Claus real?” I have no regrets about answering her in an honest fashion. How could I do anything less? While the idea of Santa Claus is a good one, he isn’t the bearer of Christmas gifts, and I wanted her to know that every good gift comes from God, that He is the only reason for the season, that He is the only reason we are able to give gifts to each other.
Children are the purest forms of human beings, and they trust their parents to tell them the truth, about everything. Allowing them to believe—to really believe—in Santa Claus cannot have a happy ending for them. True story: I once worked with a forty-something-year-old woman who told me that one of her greatest childhood disappointments was when she found out that Santa Claus wasn’t real. She still remembered how betrayed she felt when she discovered that her parents had been feeding her a fairy tale all those years. She said her heart was broken, not so much because there wasn't a Santa Claus, but because her parents had lied to her. She said it took her years to get over it and to forgive them.
I know that sounds extreme, but that was her experience, and it only confirmed my belief that parents should always tell their children the truth, even when it comes to Santa Claus.