I’ve heard from several parents lately about how they handled the moment their child asked if there really was a Santa Claus. Surprisingly, most people I’ve talked to have had trouble lying to their children when confronted. To that I say, where is the fun in having children if you can’t tell them fantastic and hilarious lies? Most parents, when asked, have told their kids in a variety of ways that there is not really a Santa Claus, whether the kid was 3 or 10. I’m not here to judge at what age it’s no longer appropriate for a child to believe in Santa, but I think I would be completely fine with looking my child in the eye and telling him that there is, without a doubt, a Santa Claus.
I also plan on making a great big production out of the tooth fairy, and telling my children that if you swallow a seed it grows into a watermelon in your stomach, it’s the thought that counts, and that they can be whatever they want to be when they grow up. We all know now that you can’t really be whatever you want to be when you grow up. For instance, I could never have been a Chinese acrobat, the Dalai Lama or a vampire. Also, my ship sailed on Olympic figure skater fairly early on. I don’t think these are things we need to reveal to children, as there is nothing wrong with a little imagination. Plus, if they wait to learn these things on their own, they will probably be at an age where other life developments take place and compensate for lost dreams. Such as being able to watch PG-13 and R-rated movies, talking to boys on the phone, spending paper route money on comics and getting the grown-up jokes on the Muppet Show.
I understand to adult sensibilities the idea of a fat man in costume who breaks into your house, eats your cookies and drops off some unidentifiable wrapped packages is rather disconcerting and in reality probably warrants a call to the police and the bomb squad, but I think the story is pretty harmless. I mean, who has chimneys and real fireplaces anymore?
Personally, I never questioned whether Santa could get to every child in the world, or whether he could do it in one night, and I caught on to time zones pretty early so I was on board with Santa for a while. I was also acutely aware that Hanukkah, which Santa had nothing to do with, was supposed to come with presents and did not, which I thought was no coincidence. Eventually, my education stood in the way of my belief in Santa Claus, along with the concept of just how many people were in the world and how long it would really take to visit them all. (I used to insist to my mother that everyone in the world could fit in our house, standing on top of each other of course). Regardless, I still love the idea that the entire year culminates in this holiday whose celebration depends solely on a feat of magic.