Do you remember your childhood when you believed in Santa Claus? Do you remember that excitement you felt Christmas Eve in anticipation of what was to come the next day? I remember once Christmas Eve, when I was about six or seven sitting, in my bedroom with my brother and father when we heard what sounded like bells outside. Looking back who knows what really made that sound, but my dad took advantage of it and said that Santa is coming so hurry up and get to sleep or he may skip our house. We begged him to shut off the lights and get out of room at once!
I remembered that so strongly my wife and I did the same thing to our daughter. We would tell her Santa is close and she had better get to bed, or he’d skip our house. She would fly upstairs. Our ritual has been for my wife’s parents to come over after our respective church services and spend the night on Christmas Eve. Our deck is right under our daughter’s bedroom so while we were tucking her in and saying our prayers with her, my father in law would take this tambourine like toy of hers we still saved and go out on the deck and make the bell noise. Just like with my brother and I it worked, and she always hurried to sleep.
Well, those days are gone, and I must admit feeling a bit nostalgic and melancholy about their passing. It wasn’t an easy transition for me or my daughter into the reality of no Santa Claus. My daughter cried when she learned the elf on the shelf was not real. Yes, we did that too for years and I created a whole mythology around her elf – writing her letters signed by her elf. creating his whole family by name and writing about his adventures. It softened the blow though about the reality of no Santa when she finally learned that.
I know people have different thoughts about Santa ranging from playful to militant. I remember one visiting priest, a retired military man, came to our church and during a December sermon told the kids there was no Santa Claus and then gave us a sermon about the real St. Nicholas. There were a lot of tears that day and some angry parents too. It contradicted the spirit of our parish, which is playful when it comes to Santa, and we even have lunch with Santa for the kids every year. I don’t remember the day I stopped believing in Santa, but I do vividly remember the day my daughter did because of the conversation we had. We were driving to church and I turned and look at her and asked if she was mad that after these years of us telling here that there was a Santa Claus to find it was not true. She said no and that is just made her sad. You’re not mad that we lied to you I asked her. She said no she wasn’t mad at us at all. I said, “but mom and dad lied, and we have always told you to never lie.” I even reminded her of the Scriptures I often quoted to her where Jesus said He was the way, the light, and the truth and how He said the Devil is a liar and when he lies he speaks his native tongue. I have repeatedly told her this over the years to impress how important it is to always be truthful and never lie, not even in the smallest of things, because little lies become habitual if you are not careful and become bigger lies. I would tell her that when you are truthful you are like Jesus and when you’re not you’re like that other guy. I even reminded her about the 10 Commandments and the one about not bearing false witness, essentially not lying.
So, after I reminded her of all of this, I asked her again if she was mad and she said no so I then said to her, but how do reconcile in your mind all this stuff I taught you about truth, yet I perpetuated a lie these years. It confused her for sure and we went on to talk more and I will share with you what I shared with her. I asked her to consider the fact that millions of parents were once children who believed in Santa, had parents who did the same thing my wife and I did, learned the awful truth, yet when they had kids, perpetuated the same ruse. And by the way, most parents do teach their kids not to lie. I asked her why do we do this, what motivates us?
She lives with me, so she knows I am huge Tolkien and Lewis fan, so I explained to her C.S. Lewis’s famous argument of desire. He once wrote, “If I find in