Okay, a confession: My biggest job perk, not counting working from home, comes from all of you. When I see trouble coming up the road, or in this case, down the chimney, I have an instant focus group to tell me the pros and cons of what I'm looking at. And what I'm looking at right now is the chubby guy.
That's right, Santa. While my two-year-old has yet to learn the bearded one's name or station in life, I can sense that this time of innocence is about to come to a close, and with it, a whole lot of what's right/ what's wrong will be let loose in our small apartment.
So, my good people, I ask you: What do you think of this Santa guy? Is he a bold lie that will lead to no good? A sweet fantasy that brings the magic of childhood to life? Something in the murky middle ground?
I can see both sides, of course. In its most basic form, the Santa myth is just that--a lie dressed up to suit an occasion. Sure, it's for a good cause (those wide smiles, those eyes dancing with expectation, those hopes that they've been good enough all year to justify a present) but like most lies, it ends in inevitable heartbreak. Letting your kids believe in Santa means that one day, they will have to go through the process of understanding he was never real. They might wonder why you said he was. They might wonder if you lie about other important things.
On the other hand, as a functional myth, there really is something to this whole naughty or nice business. A few years ago, my niece and I wrote a letter to Santa (explaining, among other things, that she was sorry she yelled at her brother) and I suddenly understood Santa as not just a gift-giver, but a call to conscience. My niece had to reckon with the things she had done that year. In that moment, she really was seeing herself as an outsider might, and as anyone with a 3-year-old knows, that can be a real blessing. And that's not even adding in the bonus of believing a man can come down our chimney with gifts.
I still haven't decided if I'm going to go the Santa route with my son, but would love to hear from other parents on both sides, or even people who feel strongly one way or another. Did you raise your kids to believe in Santa Claus? Would you do it again? What did you like about your choice? Anything you regret?