Today’s Question of the Day: Why do we insist our children believe in Santa Claus?
I remember being in fourth or fifth grade, having a Christmas party, and one girl in my class telling everyone that she still believed in Santa Claus.
Now I’m not sure when I stopped believing, if I ever did believe. Perhaps it was that one Christmas when our parents made us hide in the bedroom and cover our eyes while they set up Christmas presents for us, which they’d just got that very day, because someone loaned them the money to do so.
Perhaps my mom slipped up one day and said that she got the gift instead. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter
I recently saw a Tiktok (yes, a tiktok) from a woman who said that her 9 year old son was starting to not believe Santa is real and so he wrote a letter and took it directly to a North Pole mail box before she could lay eyes on it. The letter was asking Santa for things he hadn’t mentioned to her and he wanted to prove he was in fact not real when he didn’t receive the things he asked for.
So this who thing led me to the question: why do we insist our children believe?
Quickie History: Santa Claus
The legend or belief in Santa can be traced all the way back to when the years were counted with just three digits. Sometime around 280 AD around present day Turkey.
There isn’t a lot known about the dude, but St. Nicholas, aka Nicholas of Bari, aka Nicholas the Wondermaker (that one is cool), is the patron saint of (among other things) children.
Most of what is written about him is referred to as folklore because it’s mostly just tales of good deeds he’s done and joy he’s caused. There’s no actual proof he really did anything.
I also surmise that the belief in him grew to what it has become today because people needed that thing to grasp onto, much like a belief in god, something that can bring them peace and joy. I image that having something like a strange man bringing gifts to the masses just out of pure kindness was something people needed 2 hundred something AD.
So, I assume that the belief in Santa Claus basically just comes from the readiness to believe in something that can spread joy and happiness, and give one the warm fuzzy feelings those icky normal non-cynical angry people strive to have.
But why INSIST on it?
I can understand the desire to foster a sense of joy, excitement, and imagination in a child. I can understand the need to see a child’s eyes light up when you read “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”, and the wonder eight flying reindeer would bring.
But insisting on carrying on the belief that a large old man in a red and white suit rides a sleigh pulled but flying reindeer and visits each and every house while everyone sleeps, just to drop off iPads and hoverboards is a little bonkers to me.
Asking your child to sit on the knee of a jolly stranger with a white beard (real or fake) knowing full well that man is not the owner and operator of an elf sweatshop that manufactures toys is also ludicrous.
We spend their lives ingraining into their tiny heads, don’t talk to strangers, and yet we watch on smiling and taking pictures as a stranger listens to their Christmas wish list. My kid asked for “just robux” fyi.
All this also brings to mind the Elf on the Shelf. That odd looking stuffed creature that side eyes your children all day long, claiming without words to have an in with the man in the red coat. He’ll tell the big guy if your kid did if brush their teeth or they got a cookie from the cookie jar without asking.
Instead it’s a stuffed toy that parents are willing to make an ungodly mess just to convince their child of the lie.
The Elf and Santa Claus are in fact NOT in cahoots with each other. But they are both a fictional tool we as parents Emily during the holiday season in order to attempt to keep our kids in line. They have both become our means of control over our kids. The problem is we are less likely to actually NOT give them their Christmas presents we already paid for because we don’t want to have wasted our money.
Don’t get me wrong
I believe what Santa Claus represents and what the whole purpose of maintaining the belief in him should be is the joy of giving, the wonderment and special time that is the Christmas season.
The Kid still believes. I’m pretty sure she does to an extent. I think she’s right in the cusp of growing out of that. And I already know I’m not going to force it out of her nor am I going to convince her he is real. There are more disappointing things she’ll have to deal with as she gets older. And letting her find out on her own, asking the big question, is something I’m not going to rush or put off.
And I’m sure for some, likely most parents, having your child let go of that belief is a sign that they are growing up, and generally speaking, as parents, we don’t want that, usually. I’ve already told The Kid on multiple occasions that I don’t want her to grow up. Her response is usually, “I can’t help it!”
What do i propose?
If your kid at whatever age comes to you and asks you the one Christmas question to rule them all? No not “are we getting a puppy?” But, “Is Santa Claus real?”
If you have you have younger children and you aren’t ready to take away the small ones’ Christmas wonder at Santa Claus and his bag of toys, well, start with what do you think? And maybe ask what they want to believe. If they want the truth, then
Tell them. Explain to them where he came from and why the belief exists and why you lied to them for so many years. Ok I’m kidding about that last bit.
But also tell them that the joy that belief gives others, like those potential smaller kids, is something to protect until a time they should start asking questions.
I read an article years ago about a mom whose son stopped believing, asked The Question, and was giving an answer. But she explained to him the same way she had her older child, what the point in believing was, and why he should not take it away from his younger sibling, before they were ready. And then she told him that his older sibling actually participated in it. Not only did they encourage the idea by talking about Santa but (if I remember correctly) they helped to pick out a gift for the kids who didn’t know the truth yet. Maybe they left a message.
Either way, I think it’s important to let your child know that it isn’t their place to take that away from another child, when they’re ready they will ask the question. And especially if that child has other parents. It’s up the the parents to decide whether they want to maintain that belief.
But also I think it’s borderline child abuse to force them to believe in something when they clearly do not. Because at a certain point a child’s mind becomes capable of independent thoughts and making informed and practical decisions about what they want to think and believe. As long as what that child isn’t hurting themselves or others in any way, physical or mental, they’re entitled to those thoughts and beliefs.
Not all fat people are jolly. That’s a stereotype. A ln increasing number of us are clinically depressed and anxiety ridden. I have never been jolly.
But my belly do jiggle when I laugh.