I’m rolling my eyes at some parents agonizing about telling their children that Santa isn’t real. They worry about making the big reveal and the damage that they may have already done by creating this big ‘lie’.
Some do it out of guilt. “I don’t want to lie to my children anymore”, they say. Some do it for selfish reasons: “I want to let my children know that it’s actually me that’s been doing all the hard work in making Christmas magical and buying all those expensive toys.”
I get it. You want your little darlings to know that it’s YOU who’s gone the extra mile and not some fat, judgmental man living in the North-Pole with a penchant for making his elves and reindeer work too hard.
But the truth is that you’d be dead wrong about the fact that Santa never existed. You need only go back in history to know that Santa, Saint Nicholas, Saint Nick, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, Fat Man with Bad Fashion sense – whatever you want to call him, walked this Earth once upon a time.
So now, pay attention! Saint Nicholas was a 4th-century Greek Christian bishop of Myra (now Demre) a province in the Byzantine Empire (now in Turkey) and he was renowned for his generous gifts to the poor. He was so generous that he even gave three impoverished daughters dowries so that they would not become prostitutes (maybe leave this part out till the kids are much older). If that doesn’t sound convincing, you can tell your darlings that his remains are still in Italy and you can promise them a trip one day to go see them.
Versions of Santa throughout the ages
If you want to educate yourself about Santa and how he was depicted in various ways throughout history there’s plenty of material about it online and in books. My solution is to one day sit your children down with a history book or your laptop (kids tend to trust the world wide web these days anyway) and go through the history of Saint Nicolas with them.
Tell them there once was a man who was good, who helped the poor. Who cared about other people. Much in the same way that Jesus did. We just celebrate their birth and the good things they did in their lives and this manifests itself in various ways – one of the results being Christmas, the exchange of gifts and the tradition of embellishing the legacy of this Saint a tad too much.
You can tell them what embellishments you made though, such as that he has reindeer, a sleigh and loves Coca Cola. That, you can say, was your big fat lies.
So stop agonizing about telling your children the ‘truth’. Perhaps you can start introducing that history book now. So when Jonny’s parents break the news of Santa’s non-existence you can stand there all smug in the knowledge you possess and tell your child that little Jonny’s parents have no cooking clue about history and should look up some facts before creating a snowball of lies.
If you happen to have told them about all the other peripheral stuff like elves, red-nosed reindeers, Mrs Claus, etc., the worst you can be guilty of is falling victim to some evil marketers.
In fact, before you tell your kids the ‘truth’ about any fairytale perhaps you may want to look at the origins of a character and you may just surprise yourself and learn something new.
Merry Christmas everyone. Santa – I hope you are watching, this one’s for you.