Letters, May 15
The Santa Claus myth
Every Christmas, I feel sadder about the lie that adults tell children: that Santa Claus gives them gifts. I remember the moment my parents told me that they’d been lying. “Your father gave you the bike — not Santa Claus.” I felt humiliated, betrayed — like I’d been played for a fool.
Children trust the adults in their lives. Adults take advantage of that trust, and play a fun game that seems harmless to them. But it hurts children because it confuses them. Adults have always taught them to be honest, and never to lie. Then those same adults turn around and do the very thing that they taught was wrong: They lie, and allow the children to be fooled for years.
Christmas is the celebration of Christ. I think that there’s so much beauty and wonder in Christ’s life, that no one needs to dress up the holiday by making up stories about a jolly old man flying through the air and coming down chimneys.
The Santa Claus myth is not the worst thing that we can do to children. It’s not a major trauma for them. But if we can be better role models, that can only help children to grow up to be the persons of integrity that we want them to be.