We've gotten many comments on The Santa Issue over the years, ranging from "Oh, really? Okay" to "You're ruining his childhood!" I figured I'd lay out all the reasons why right here, so from now on, rather than going into all my explanations for the 400th time, I can just give out this URL.
Before you read any further, please understand that this is a choice we made for our family. I'm not trying to convince anyone else that they should do the same, and I'm not implying that if you made a different choice for your family, I think you're wrong, or a bad parent, or anything like that. We have many good friends who do the Santa thing with their kids. They are wonderful parents with wonderful kids, and we have no problem with their choice, just as they have no problem with ours.
I want credit for those gifts!I'm sure there's some satisfaction in being an anonymous benefactor. People do it all the time, so there must be some reason for it. But my husband works very hard to earn the money for our son's gifts. I work (kind of) hard making the lists, reading reviews, finding the best prices, shopping (come on, Christmas shopping is really awful!) and wrapping the toys up all nice. We deserve credit. I think he appreciates a gift more, knowing that we put a lot of effort into it because we love him, rather than if he was told it was something that cost no money, that he was entitled to simply for being a child.
His innocence is still fully intact, thank you.Many people take issue with our choice because they think we're "destroying his innocence," or "robbing him of the magic of childhood." That is ridiculous. As far as innocence goes, he is still blissfully unaware of the concepts of death, rape, homelessness, animal cruelty, and all of the other harsh truths he'll one day have to learn about. He was never told that Santa was real to begin with, so nothing was ever "destroyed."
As for the "magic of childhood," everything is magical to a child. There's no shortage of magic in his life. Just this past weekend, he saw a rainbow and fireflies in the same day! How magical is that?! He's seen my friends grow a new friend for him right in their bellies. He's currently raising caterpillars, which will soon turn into butterflies. He's held a baby chick, eaten pizza for breakfast, been surprised with ice cream and trips to the museum and toys for no reason. His childhood is excellent, and plenty magical.
He will not spoil it for your kid.Kids like to pretend. When his friend says that there's a dinosaur in his bedroom, my son doesn't call him a liar, or correct him. He plays along. We've told him that some people like to pretend that Santa is real, and that he should play along. He knows that if another kid asks him any direct questions, such as "Did Santa come to your house?" or "Do you think Santa is real?" he should say "I don't know" and change the subject. We practice scenarios like this every December, and he gets a refresher whenever he's going to be seeing his friends.
Finding out the truth is devastating.My only Santa-related memory is when I found out Santa wasn't real. I have no fond memories of discovering a fat stocking on Christmas morning, writing letters, or sitting on some guy's lap at the mall. I actually don't even remember how I found out. I just remember the aftermath. I remember being at my Nana and Grampa's house, hiding behind the drapes in their living room. I was crying so hard I could barely breathe. My face was drenched in tears, sweat and snot. I was gasping and hiccuping. I felt like a fool. I wasn't concerned about getting less presents next year. I was simply outraged and humiliated to learn that everyone I knew, everyone I cared about, every single one of them, had been lying to me my entire life. And I had fallen for it. I wouldn't wish that on any other kid.
I don't need an imaginary enforcer to make my son behave.A lot of people use the threat of Santa to get their kids to behave in the month or two leading up to Christmas. He sees all and knows all. He has two lists, and you want to make sure you're on the right one. This is a lot like promising someone a throne in the clouds or 72 virgins if they behave. As an atheist, I believe that God/religion was invented to scare people straight. God sees all and knows all. There are two places he can send you when you die. He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good, for goodness' sake! (Isn't that line odd, by the way? The whole song tells you that you should be good under penalty of not receiving gifts, not just for the sake of being good. Then they throw that line in, I suppose because it rhymes, and the whole point of the song goes out the window.)
I don't behave because I think there is a god watching and judging me. I behave because it's the right thing to do. I don't expect a reward when I die. The reward for being a good person is the knowledge that you are a good person, and you have made others happy. That's all I need to keep me in line. And that's how I want my son to conduct himself, too. Don't hit, because it hurts. Don't whine, because it's annoying. Eat your vegetables, because they keep you healthy. He may be young, but I'll go out on a limb and say he's a bit more sophisticated than some ancient hut-dweller who can't be trusted not to steal his neighbor's camel without the threat of burning for eternity in a lake of fire.
If you have any questions, you are welcome to comment below, anonymously, if you'd like. I'll answer them all. If there's any argument you think I didn't address, I'd be more than happy to. But please know that we are very happy with the choice we made, and nothing will convince us to change our minds.