Few things in my life as a parent have given me more guilt than Santa. My children believe in Santa, love Santa, think about Santa even when (like now) it is not the Christmas season. They prefer Santa to God, although in their minds the difference between the two is probably pretty negligible.
Why do they believe so fervently in this mythical, toy-distributing fat man? Because I have deliberately and repeatedly lied to them. I have looked them in their wide, trusting eyes and fed them a line of horseshit about the North Pole, the reindeer, the elves, the whole thing. And they believed me.
Moreover, I have held this lie over their heads as one might hold a sword. “If you’re not good Santa’s not going to come.” I have said these words out loud and with a straight face. “Santa is not going to come.” Which, to a child, is the same as saying, “I am going to leave you in a parking lot.” In other words, threatening them in this manner is essentially the same as threatening them with death. They are unsure whether such a thing is possible. Is it possible that their behavior is actually bad enough that Santa might bypass our house entirely? “Yes,” I assure them, “It is.”
But, of course, Santa does come. Every year at the appointed hour, he shows up with his magic happy bag of toys. Santa is fidelity itself. “Look what Santa brought!” I might say to my daughter as she rips open the doll box that still has the price tag on it bearing the name of the toy store from which I bought it. Santa brings good shit.
Why does this bother me so much? Because parents aren’t supposed to lie to their kids. But I feel peer pressure to perpetuate the Santa conspiracy because to do otherwise would be to potentially spoil Christmas for everybody else’s kids, and that guilt would be worse than the guilt I have from setting up my own kids for the eventual disappointment and betrayal they will feel when they finally come to their senses and realize Mommy and Daddy are not trustworthy, just as those other kids will feel the same about their own parents.
Of course, my mendacity is not limited to Santa. The Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny have all received their due in my house. So has Jesus, although not from me. To a child, the world must appear like a fantastic whirligig of angels, fairies, and countless other supernatural beings all coming and going just out of sight. No wonder children are terrified of the dark. There’s no telling who is going to show up.
Eventually, I know my kids will figure out that Santa does not exist, which will be even worse because at that point, they will not know whether or not to let us know that they know. Some kids keep pretending they believe just so they don’t disappoint their parents, who keep the lie going so as not to disappoint their kids, and so on. Therapy soon follows.
Wouldn’t it be better just to say, “Here’s a Christmas present. It’s from Mommy and me because we love you?” Wouldn’t that be better? Wouldn’t it mean more coming from us than from some weirdo in a red suit? (Although to be fair, “weirdo in a red suit” could also describe Grandpa.) Why do we need Santa at all? What is he providing that parents cannot provide for themselves?
I hate Santa.
I hate everything he represents: jolliness, greed, exploitation of workers, phoniness, Coca-Cola, logic gaps, children sitting on strange men’s laps, bastardized Christianity, corporatocracy, Scotch tape, and, of course, Nazis.
This year, let's kill Santa. On an appointed day, say December 24th, can't we agree to all sit our kids down and tell them the truth once and for all? Can't we just tell them we were kidding, and wasn't that a good one? See - here's the Christmas presents right here, in the luggage closet where we always keep them until you go to sleep on Christmas Eve. See? Then we can give them the presents, from us, and tell them to quit crying about it or we're going to leave them in a parking lot.