Give Him the (Big Black) Boot

Yes, you can have Christmas without Santa. Yes, you should. Here's why.


Close the damper, quick! If there's one thing your kids don't need this Christmas, it's Santa. The notion that someone, somewhere, has access to unlimited material goods, and can shower them around at will, would be hazardously intoxicating to just about anybody who believed it. (Picture it: your boss sends around a memo that the magic Lexus fairy will be visiting the office Christmas party with goodies for everyone.)

Yes, you can have Christmas without Santa. Yes, you should. Here are a few why's, followed by a few how's.

First, it's a big fat lie. What kind of an example are you setting here? How stupid are your kids going to feel when they realize they fell for this? What else of what you taught them are they going to doubt? Your kids should know that your word is always good and that they can rely on it without question every day of their lives.

Second, the Santa myth teaches kids ingratitude. You want your older children never to acknowledge your gifts? Enjoy the idea of never getting a thank-you note or any thoughtfulness in return? Santa-talk is a good way to start them on that path. They learn that goodies just magically appear and don't cost anybody anything. Their role in life is just to open packages and enjoy.

It also teaches greed. We may say piously that we want our children to develop just and generous virtues, but filling them with images of a toy-wielding potentate with a lifetime pass on eToys will knock all that flatter than Kansas.

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Finally, how about your kids' spiritual development? You may be trying to help your children apprehend the wonder of an unseen God, trying to inculcate subtle awe. But the kid can

see

Santa--he's right there at the mall. Which one seems realer? Does anybody get their photo taken sitting on God's lap? Who dresses up in a God suit?


Santa's tangibility makes him seem a better bet to kids than vague old God. Santa lives at the North Pole. God lives in heaven. Which one can the kid find on a map? You write letters to Santa. You say prayers to God. Which seems like a more effective way to communicate?

Santa has another unfair advantage over God: He's imaginary. Lots of us could easily be more appealing if we existed only in fantasy. But why would you encourage your kids to dwell in fantasy, to place their trust and hope in something that isn't true, especially when its gaudy glow makes God seem irrelevant and pale?

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