December 22, 2006
Yes, Carter, You're Very Smart -- There is No Santa Claus
Posted by Christine Hurt

[Warning, Santa spoilers to come.]

Our family is at the end of an era, or at least the beginning of the end.  Our older child, a third-grader, confessed to me that she knows there is no Santa Claus.  She seemed fine with the truth, and I was happy to be done with the charade.  Personally, I hate Santa Claus.  Correction:  I'm fine with Santa Claus the character, just like I'm fine with Superman, Scooby-Doo, and maybe SpongeBob SquarePants.  What I hate is the legal fiction of "believing in Santa Claus."  I would be happy to have a mascot for Christmas, one who embodies everything that's good, wholesome and selfless about Christmas, but why should we all pretend that this mascot is real?

I'm a religious person, and I believe a lot of things one can only classify as "supernatural" or "beyond scientific fact."  Because I do have religious beliefs, I like to police the boundary of things that I tell others I "believe."  I hope to instill my true beliefs in my children, but I think that goal is subverted when before my child is eight years old, she finds out that I lied to her about Santa, the tooth fairy, etc.  We have tried to keep the imaginary creature belief systems out of our house (Easter Bunny, St. Nick, whatever that is).  I would prefer to tell her that I believe in the power of the resurrection, but I don't believe that a bunny in a plaid vest leaves us plastic eggs and candy.  I believe in latter-day miracles, but I don't believe that an ageless chubby man can alter the laws of physics by delivering presents to every child in the world in one evening.  I believe that God hears us when we pray, but I don't believe that the man on the other end of the 1-800 number. . . .well, you get the picture.

What I hate especially about this Santa religion is that in the movies, if you don't believe in Santa, you're either evil or misguided.  You're a robotic, cynical, frigid single mom who works at Macy's or maybe the really evil neighbor next door who hates kids.  No one is ever depicted as loving, selfless, idealistic and altruistic who does not believe in Santa.  What I want to see is the made-for-TV movie about the third-grader who realizes that there is no Santa but finally realizes the true meaning of Christmas and is a better person for it.  I realize the merchandising tie-ins will be small, but just maybe. . . .

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