Believing In Santa Claus….Or Not

by admin on December 19, 2013

This particular story occurred about 8 years ago. My daughter “Allie” was about 4, and was excitedly discussing at an extended family dinner what she had asked Santa Claus for.  My husband’s brother “Mark” jumped into the conversation, asking some pointed questions about what she had said. It quickly became clear, to our utter disbelief and horror, that Mark was trying clue Allie in to the fact that her parents were in fact Santa Claus.  For example, “Well, don’t you find it strange that Santa Claus uses the same wrapping paper as your parents?” and “Don’t you think it’s pretty impossible that Santa Claus is able to get to ALL those houses in one night?” My husband and I were livid, but were able to hold it together long enough to refute his not-so-subtle points, put a stop to his line of questioning and quickly change the subject.

Turns out, Mark (who was childless at the time) was against children believing in Santa Claus. He felt it was misleading and cruel when the child found out the truth. So, he felt it was his place to fill Allie in. I might add he completely blindsided us with this. We had no idea he felt this way, nor did he ever discuss our decision with us. I had some choice words for him later in the evening when Allie was out of earshot.

Fast forward several years…My sister and Mark now have 3 beautiful little girls. They changed their tune about Santa Claus, and all of their children look forward to Santa coming each Christmas. The mature side of me has chosen to take the high road and not bring this particular incident up to him now and point out the irony, tempting as that is! Although, I must admit part of me (OK, a large part!) would like an apology, which was never forthcoming.

I believe every parent has the right to raise their children in whatever traditions they see fit. I do understand his point completely, and raising your children to not believe in Santa is certainly a viable option, but don’t tell me how I should or shouldn’t raise my own children! 1229-11

I raised my children to not believe in Santa Claus and I experienced the reverse with people trying to sabotage this by insisting to my children that Santa Claus was real.   So, disrespecting other parents’ choices does go both ways.

My thought on the OP’s submission is that while parents may choose to follow a tradition of Santa Claus with their own children, other people are not under an obligation to disregard their own convictions to support yours.   In other words, I won’t lie to children when asked if I believe in Santa Claus nor will I play along with verbal games meant to fish from people their wish list for Santa or pledge an allegiance to a belief in Santa Claus.   I may say nothing or beandip like crazy which is awkward but a lot less awkward than bluntly stating my own truthful beliefs.

{ 134 comments… read them below or add one }

Cami December 20, 2013 at 1:20 pm

For those of you who say you won’t lie to a child — are there limits?

For example, if a child was adopted and you know the parents had not told the child that fact and the child asked you if they were adopted, would you tell the truth? If the child’s parents kept from them the fact that they were unmarried at the time of birth, would you tell the truth if asked? If the child’s parents created a good curtain of illusion covering up monetary troubles, would you tell the truth if the child asked you about them?

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Lisatoo December 20, 2013 at 2:38 pm

I don’t really understand how you can firmly state that you won’t lie to a child, yet at the same time tell them God exists. I guess we all have our own ‘truths’.

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Cat December 20, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Lisatoo- We tell children that God exists because we can’t make a decent argument that He does not. Thomas Aquinas and Duns Scotus both wrote logical proofs of the existance of God seven- hundred years ago and no one has been able to disprove them.
Quick example of just one: We know that things exist. We know that, if we put a glass globe over a vacuum, and leave it for however long you want, when you open it, nothing will be in there. Things don’t magically appear. If there was nothing there to start with, there will be nothing there later, regardless of how long you leave it. But…things exist.
Ok, so from where did the first things come? If a rock is a hundred- billion years old, two-hundred billions years ago it was not there. We have found nothing in the universe that is eternal, that always existed and will always exist, other than God. Evolution explains change; it does not explain origin. If chemicals magically created life, and we have never seen this happen, from where did those chemicals come?
So things exist, nothing appears of itself, and we have no answer other than God. We have a creation; we tell our children there must be a Creator. If there is another answer, please tell us.

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sweetonsno December 20, 2013 at 4:49 pm

I agree with the general consensus here that it is not okay to undermine parents’ authority when it comes to matters of values. Kids are curious. They will bombard you with questions, and sometimes, they just won’t let it go. I don’t think persistence is an excuse for telling a child that he is wrong about a belief (and, by extension, that his parents are liars for having encouraged him to have it). I also don’t think one has to lie. There is a happy medium: tact.

In this case, you can redirect. (Others have mentioned this.) You can also answer a question that is slightly different from the one they asked. If they ask if you believe in Santa, you can say, “Oh, Santa doesn’t visit me because I don’t celebrate Christmas” or “Santa doesn’t leave me presents any more because I’m a grown-up.” Or you can do both: “Santa doesn’t visit me because I don’t celebrate Christmas. Say, did you visit him at the mall this year?” or “Santa doesn’t leave me presents any more because I’m a grown-up. Are you going to leave him milk and cookies this year?”

I’m 31. My sister is 28. We still leave out stockings and treats (usually beer instead of milk these days, though). Santa still comes and visits. When I talk with my students (ages 5-13) about Santa, their reactions are always adorable. Some of them are very concerned that at the age of 31, I don’t know about his true identity. The ones who still believe wholeheartedly are always delighted to talk about it with a grown-up who understands. The ones who are on the fence always brighten up a bit, because even though we both know the score, we’re both able to relate to the magic that comes from sort-of-believing and from enabling that wonderful feeling in others.

Santa is, in my mind, no different from any other benevolent supernatural being. He’s hope, he’s love, he’s generosity, and he’s a reminder that the world isn’t all bad and that one person can make a difference. When I talk about Santa with young believers, I channel my own inner Santa and try to focus on the gift I’m giving them- the happiness that comes from having a tangible representation of some of the best of human nature.

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Kate December 20, 2013 at 4:55 pm

There’s a difference between – 1) not believing children should be told Santa is real and therefore deliberately trying to convince them/persuade them/clue them in/hint it’s a lie and 2) not believing children should be told Santa is real and therefore subtly avoiding the subject.
Two very different things. One is fine, the other is not.

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Wild Irish Rose December 20, 2013 at 6:14 pm

I think we all agree that Santa doesn’t really exist, but to those of you who insist that Jesus is a myth, please stop that.

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Ellex December 20, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Maybe Mark didn’t change his mind about the matter. Presumably his kid has a mother, and the mother might have her own opinions about the importance of Santa (eg; “IT’S VERY IMPORTANT TO ME SO YOU WILL COOPERATE OR IT WILL RUIN CHRISTMAS FOREVER.”)

If I ever have kids I’m going to tell them it’s Superman who delivers our presents on Christmas Eve. Or maybe Aquaman.

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Miss Raven December 20, 2013 at 7:04 pm

@Cami —

There are no limits. But, there is a difference between lying and deferring. “You should ask your parents” is not a lie. There are many times, especially when it comes to other people’s children, when one is required to just keep their trap shut.

@Lisatoo —

As a fellow atheist, I find this statement incredibly offensive. Just because we don’t have faith doesn’t mean that all religious people are lying to their children. It is only a lie if you don’t believe it yourself. And honestly, this was rather mean-spirited and unnecessary. You’re giving the rest of us a bad name.

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toia December 20, 2013 at 7:37 pm

I wasn’t going to weigh in on this until I read the admins response I am very big on not having to lie for someone else. But I also don’t want to interfere with someone else’s parenting or a child’s joy. I grew up with the idea of Santa and it never hurt me. My mother did day care till I was in middle school and none of the many kids looked after ever had Santa trauma it must be a generational thing.

The Santa belief thing is person thing. But if a parent has decided that is something they want for their child then as an adult you don’t get to mess with that. If the child asks get over yourself, it’s not like a religion questions it’s freaking Santa just say something nice. Kids are in for a lot of hard real world unpleasantness let then have Santa while they can.

To the OP, you are best to just let it go. No need to give energy to the past. Yes he sucks but by dwelling on it or bringing it up you will only put a damper on an otherwise happy holiday. Enjoy the young girls during the holidays. Having kids around at Christmas time makes it so much more fun.

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Margaret December 20, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Q: Is Santa real?
A: I’ve never been to the North Pole!

That’s what I say when the kids are starting to figure out that it’s not real. For the little little ones — OF COURSE HE’S REAL!!!

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NostalgicGal December 20, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Reading Margaret’s comments….

Some years ago I was drafted to help a few friends make a Christmas for mutual friends and their kids, they were very broke (none of us were THAT well off) and so, I took scrounged clean foam scraps, cardboard, contact paper, rummage sale clothes and a sheet and made some doll furniture and clothes. I got caught by one of the kids sewing stuff… I don’t have any kids. Um… ‘I’m a contract artist, right? I make things other people pay me to make.’ (uh, yeah…) ‘Santa’s workshop can’t always make all the toys and goodies, that’s why some things are ‘made in china’…’ (yeah) ‘Well, I got hired to help out this year, I’m working for Elf-Co, and this is what I’m supposed to be making for them.’ (long hard thought, oh. But you’re not a factory in China) ‘no, I’m not, but I had some time and I took this contract and now I have to fill it.’ (oh. okay)

One seven year old was thrilled on Christmas morning to get all the things they’d gotten a sneak peek at, and it saved Santa for the five and the four year old too.

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nk December 21, 2013 at 1:54 am

What OP’s BIL did wasn’t “refusing to lie to children.” OP’s daughter didn’t ask him anything; he just tried to undermine her parents’ traditions out of the blue. There’s an important difference between not lying to a child and taking it upon yourself to bring up something the child’s parents don’t want them to know about. What if OP’s daughter had been adopted and didn’t know it, and the BIL randomly started asking her questions like “Do you ever wonder why you don’t look like either of your parents?” I think everyone would agree that doing that would be wrong, and the Santa issue is the same–what someone else’s child is told is up to the parents, and it’s not your place to try to change that.

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Lisatoo December 21, 2013 at 2:30 am

Wild Rose: In all politeness; Why?

Even if Jezus WAS a historical figure, as in ‘some human that lived and said some stuff that some agreed with’, the whole concept of him being the son of a non existing God etc. is *not* true in my eyes, and a lie fabricated to control the masses by the ruling religious elite. Why should I ‘lie’ in this comment section about that and claim that I DO believe that, or not say that, as you insist? Because it will make believers feel better? Out of politeness? Is it polite to force someone to verbally go along with what they believe in front of a child when it comes down to religion, but not other things?
I find the debate in this comment section very interesting and enlightening, (and thank admin for letting it run its course!) especially because of the connection with ‘I would never lie to a child’/unless it’s my own version of belief/events. Some really interesting points were made in terms of that contradiction.

Personally I would never tell a child that God doesn’t exist and that Jezus, if he existed, was no where near the white-washed version that prevails in America. That’s just not my place to do, and I would totally understand the anger that any Christian parent would feel towards someone who would. But I just don’t understand why it is completely OK to do that when it involves a nice family tradition like Chistmas, and I also don’t understand feeling the need to tell other commenters to stop stating their thoughts. Because you know, deep in your heart, that if I would state ‘please stop talking as if God exists’, you would be very offended and this comment probably wouldn’t even make it through. So there is a form of hypocrisy here. No matter how you feel, telling commenters to go along with one thing, but not the other, and to ‘stop saying that’ because *you* believe otherwise, is not very polite.

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Lisatoo December 21, 2013 at 2:37 am

Miss Raven: I’m not your fellow, so don’t lump me into your group, or give me any labels based on what *you* think I am. You don’t know me, nor my intent. And if you find my truth meanspirited, then so be it. I personally find trying to convince a four year old against her parent’s wishes that Santa doesn’t exist a whole lot meaner.

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Sorka Hanrahan December 21, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Could we also talk about the other side of things? Why does nearly every single adult a child comes in contact with during the month of December have to ask a child what Santa is bringing them and/or if they are excited for Santa to come? I would even be ok with the question, if they could then not react with sadness and dismay when the child responds that they don’t celebrate Christmas. It’s not ok for the cashier at the grocery store to ask a 5 year old if “that makes them sad”, or the friend’s mom responds with an incredulous, “REALLY?! Then what are you going to do next week?!”

Seriously, mature adults should be know that not everyone does the Santa gig, or even celebrates the holiday.

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MichelleP December 21, 2013 at 1:25 pm

@Lisatoo, your comment was unnecessary and completely out of place on this forum.

The OP’s BIL is or was a jerk. The Santa Clause myth has nothing to do with the letter. The point is that the BIL actively undermined the parents. I raised my daughter with Santa Claus. She’s almost twelve now. A few years ago she asked me if he was real. I told her the truth, as I believe if they are old enough to ask they are old enough to be told the truth. The magic that we feel in our hearts at Christmas is real.

No other adult needs to discourage what parents teach their children. My stepdad is an atheist. I’ve taught my daughter to believe in God. He only undermined my teaching to her one time.

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crebj December 21, 2013 at 3:11 pm

@Nostalgic Gal, great recovery!

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AnaMaria December 21, 2013 at 5:53 pm

It has generally been my experience that families who celebrate Christmas but choose not to believe in Santa Claus do so because they want their children to focus on the true meaning of Christmas: the birth of Christ. I know there are some other cases, but I think this applies to the majority.

I understand that, for devout Christians, it is frustrating to see such a sacred event turned into a secularized commercial holiday. It certainly reflects the competitive and materialistic attitude of our society! That being said, do people honestly think that they are going to point friends and family back to Jesus’ birth by undermining parents and creating conflicts like in the story described above? Do they expect children to say one day, “I became a follower of Jesus when Uncle Blabbermouth told me my parents were lying about Santa Claus. Suddenly, my heart was refocused on the true meaning of Christmas!”

If you are celebrating Christmas with friends or extended family and feel a need to lead everyone to refocus, ask to sit down and read the Christmas story from the Bible or watch The Nativity Story together. Starting a scuffle over a fairytale is no way to celebrate Christmas!

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Ergala December 22, 2013 at 10:23 am

@Lisatoo as a Christian who is raising her children Christian I too find your comment incredibly offensive. I am NOT lying to my children because I DO believe there is a God and I DO believe in Jesus. It’s fine with me that you do not believe in either, that doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Why does it bother you that we do? Our faith has given us hope and solace when we’ve needed it most. Our beliefs don’t harm anyone, neither does a child’s belief in Santa. It doesn’t harm anyone. Why do so many people feel the need to lift that veil from the eyes of children as soon as they can? I wouldn’t want that “honor”…..

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Margaret December 22, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Nostalgic Gal — I have always told my kids that they need to let Santa know really early what they want, because some stuff they don’t make at the north pole and they have to order out. I also tell them that they can ask for a bunch of stuff from Santa, but Santa will only give them one thing, because it’s not fair to Santa to expect him to make them lots of toys, especially since they get other presents from us at Christmas.

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kingsrings December 22, 2013 at 8:11 pm

I think it’s inappropriate and uncalled for to turn the subject into religion, too.

But getting back to Santa Claus, I agree it’s up to the parents to decide how to handle it, and everyone around them needs to respect that. I found out at age 7 or 8 from my big brother. Once I found out, I decided with my child logic that it was now my duty to inform all the children around me that Santa wasn’t real. Most of them already knew, but one of my friends refused to believe me when I told her, and she started to cry. Oops…..

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Angel December 22, 2013 at 8:51 pm

I’m not sure how this discussion got to be about believing in God–believing in God and believing in Santa are two different things. Trying to equate the two and telling people who do believe in God and celebrate Christmas–that they are wrong because they don’t want to teach their kids about Santa–and are picking and choosing their own truths–that to me is just bitter. And certainly not in the spirit of the Christmas season. I have friends who are atheist but they still celebrate Christmas, and get together with friends, exchange presents and all that stuff. Because even if they don’t believe in God they still believe in their families, friends and the good in people. I honestly cannot even say I am that offended by the statement–I would just say it is just pretty sad.

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Kimstu December 22, 2013 at 11:54 pm

@Wild Irish Rose: “I think we all agree that Santa doesn’t really exist, but to those of you who insist that Jesus is a myth, please stop that.”

I think their point is that in terms of historical/scientific realism, there is no more objective evidence for the miracles of Jesus than there is for the existence of Santa Claus. And they’re right about that.

But I agree with you that there is an important difference between saying “in terms of historical/scientific realism, there is no objective evidence for (Religious Miracle Story X)” and saying categorically “(Religious Miracle Story X) is a myth”.

The former is a valid and not disrespectful point about a particular perspective on human knowledge. The latter is an arrogant and dogmatic assertion that nothing outside of their historical/scientific-realist perspective is worthy of being believed or honored as any kind of truth by anybody. And that is rude and disrespectful to the beliefs of others.

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delislice December 23, 2013 at 8:48 am

“In fact, many biblical scholars believe that Jesus probably wasn’t an individual person, but rather a composite of several men who were part of the early Christian oral tradition.”

I would like to know your source or sources for this information. I have an extensive background in theological studies, including a thorough examination of other religions’ beliefs and practices and those of nonbelievers, and I’ve never heard this proposal. I’m not being flip or saying that you’re wrong … I sincerely would like to know where your statement came from. I am interested in reading more about it.

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Meegs December 23, 2013 at 10:08 am

Lisatoo, seriously nobody gives a fig if you believe in God or not. No one suggested that you lie in your comments here – the point is that your comment doesn’t really have anything to do with the disucssion and seemed to be made just for the sake of taking a nasty jab at the believers here. The disucssion is not about whether or not God and Jesus are real so you were not required to lie about anything in order to participate. If someone believes something, it is not a lie to them. Obviously. Just because you don’t believe in God doesn’t mean that he doesnt’ exist.

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The Elf December 23, 2013 at 10:56 am

Re: The religion point. The analogy is apt, but like most analogies it isn’t perfect.

Let’s reverse it. Let’s say that you, as a Christian, encounter a family whose beliefs lie with the pagan Roman pantheon. The little kid says he’s looking forward to Saturnalia and that he can’t wait to see what gifts he’s given in honor of Saturn. Then he asks you what YOU are going to get for Saturnalia. Likely, as a Christian, you not only have no belief in the existence of Saturn but you also have firm beliefs in opposition to his. What do you say? I’m going to wager you won’t lie and say that you’re celebrating the ancient Roman holiday. But do you explain Christmas and Christianity to a child whose parents are obviously raising him with a different set of beliefs? They are not your children and undercutting the parental influence isn’t a good idea either.

I’d say “I hope you get what you want for Saturnalia! Does your family cook anything special for the holiday?” Turning it back to the child enables me to avoid saying I don’t believe in Saturn, thus respecting the beliefs of the family, and still engage the child in conversation. It’s a bean-dip, really, which is exactly what the admin suggests for discussing Santa.

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Miss Raven December 23, 2013 at 3:01 pm

@Lisatoo –

Your intent is irrelevant, and your comment was similarly irrelevant to the discussion at hand. The “truth” isn’t mean-spirited. Your out-of-place insulting of every believer on this forum for absolutely no reason was mean-spirited and disrespectful. I honestly don’t care what you believe, just that you at least attempt to keep a civil tongue in your head (civil fingers on the keyboard?) instead of being childish and deliberately inflammatory for, again, no good reason.

Also, no one here is trying to convince anyone’s child that Santa is real against their parents wishes. What does that have to do with anything? The point is to respect the wishes of the parent, whatever their beliefs, and whatever your beliefs, and not taking it upon one’s self to deliberately undermine what they are teaching their children.

No one here twisted your arm, demanding to know what you think about religion. It’s not lying to just not say anything at all.

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Kendra December 23, 2013 at 3:34 pm

@Lisatoo You brought up some excellent points. Those who attacked your viewpoint pretty much illustrated it, didn’t they. ;-) It seems to be common that many people will attack another person’s beliefs but then cry foul when the tables are turned on them. Your points are really worth talking about. We all have our own truths. No parent would thank us for pushing our “truths” onto their children. It is the parents’ right and responsibility to pass their beliefs on to their children without other people coming along and calling them “liars”.
@ Sorka That is a very good question. I think it might have something to do with all the movies and shows out this time of year about believing in Santa like Miracle on 34th Street. Many people who grew up with Santa can’t seem to see past that world view and understand that not everyone teaches their child about Santa. I agree with you that it is just as wrong for other adults to push Santa on your children as it is for others to try to take Santa away from other people’s children. Unfortunately, the best answer I can think of right now is a cheerful “Well, we all celebrate Christmas in our own way. Merry Christmas.”
@Cat Your argument is a classic example of Post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy: “We are here, therefore god exists”. The one really has nothing to do with the other. Thomas Aquinas also believed that everything he saw was exactly as God created it. The science of evolution has proven otherwise. Every culture since the beginning of culture has had a creationist myth. The Greeks believed that Gaia (earth) emerged from the Chaos of the void. With her came Eros, Tartarus and Erebus. Gaia gave birth to Uranus. Uranus then fertilized Gaia and she gave birth to the Titans. The Cherokee creation myth was that the earth as a great floating island surrounded by seawater. It hung from the sky by cords attached at the four cardinal points. The first earth came to be when Beaver’s Grandchild, the little Water Beetle came from the sky realm to see what was below the water. He scurried over the surface of the water, but found no solid place to rest. He dived to the bottom of the water and brought up some soft mud. This mud expanded in every direction and became the earth. Several cultures ascribe the birth of the earth and the universe to a female deity because females are the ones who give birth. My favorite creationist myth is the one from the show Firefly. When the Earth was “born she had no sky. She was open, inviting, and the stars would rush into her, through the skin of her, making the oceans boil with sensation. When she could endure no more ecstasy, she puffed up her cheeks and blew out the sky.”
I have a small confession. The Admin’s last post got me so riled that my fingers were itching to post a retort and several came immediately to mind. This is weird for me because I don’t usually get so “het up” about an internet blog, but there is something about this discussion that has really smacked my hot button. Rather than posting an immediate reply, which probably would not have contributed much to the discussion, I IM’d my minister instead. I identify as humanist and UU. She reminded me of the UU Principles and Purposes which are the foundation of our fellowship. The first principle is the inherent worth and dignity of every person. And Wonderful Wise Woman that she is, she also reminded me that there are many, many different faiths and beliefs in this world and all are equally deserving of respect regardless of my personal world view. Every person has the absolute right to believe what they believe. It is just as hurtful and rude for me to call other people’s beliefs a “lie” as it is for them to call my beliefs a “lie”. If I want other people to respect my faith then I need to first respect theirs’.
For the record, I do believe in Santa Claus. I raised my son to believe in Santa and it is very likely that he will raise my grandchildren (when he has them) to believe. I am just as offended when someone says Santa is a “lie” as others are when their beliefs are called “lies”.

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NostalgicGal December 23, 2013 at 8:57 pm

1). Faith is personal. This isn’t about Faith. Faith can also mean the choice not to believe or to follow another path than a large or small organized religion. This topic wasn’t about Faith.

2). At the end of the year there are several holidays commonly celebrated. One is the birth of Jesus. Who is both a historical figure and a figure of several Faiths. Another is Chanukkah. Another is the Solstice. Another is ‘New Year’.

3). As a part of several cultures and heritages, there is the legend of Santa Claus, Sinter Klaas, St. Nick, etc. This is also partly based on a historical figure. This legend is part of many holiday belief sets and widely followed and used.

4). The original post is about Santa Claus, the legend, and the choice of the tradition being followed; and some strife and discord between adult family members concerning children.

It comes down to in this case, that the main item is the parents have chosen to follow certain beliefs; and that those belief choices made by parents for their children should be respected and followed by others. Until such time as the children decide otherwise. As long as the child is not put in peril or harmed.

I don’t want to hear about psychological harm. Most of the time the legend is introduced as part of the family traditions and practices, and continues until the child involved chooses not to believe any more (usually around 9-10, third to fourth grade). Faith is another matter, but again, the parental choices should be respected and followed regarding the child or children involved.

In general, the OP’s brother Mark was out of line to not follow the OP’s choices concerning her children. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, the OP should extend the same; let Mark decide for his kids and follow that choice.

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Kimstu December 23, 2013 at 11:28 pm

@Lisatoo: “Miss Raven: I’m not your fellow, so don’t lump me into your group, or give me any labels based on what *you* think I am.”

Er, no. You have stated that you don’t believe God exists. @MissRaven has also stated that she doesn’t believe God exists. In standard English usage, that makes you and @MissRaven (and me, for what it’s worth) “fellow atheists”. The use of “fellow” in this sense doesn’t mean that we’re buddies or that we have any shared mission or identity other than this one point of similarity in our professed opinions.

Sorry for belaboring the explanation, but since you use the typically Balto-Slavic (or Dutch) spelling “Jezus” instead of the standard English form “Jesus”, it occurred to me that English might not be your first language so you might not be familiar with this meaning of “fellow”.

@admin: “If it is a game then it is one that is designed to manipulate children into good behavior so that the reward is more material possessions.”

@Admin, I think your anti-Santaist principles ;) are making you perhaps a bit too categorical here. The Santa myth is certainly not ONLY about cynically bribing children to behave themselves. Many parents use it to help teach children the idea of general benevolence and generosity to others, as in a previous poster’s example of her daughter “helping Santa” by picking out a toy for another child.

Of course, dissing the Santa myth is not the same as dissing belief in God. But in both cases, while there’s room for courteous disagreement and thoughtful criticism, sweeping condemnation of the whole concept smacks of narrowmindedness.

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