Every day in the lead-up to Christmas, open the door to reveal a Spinoff writer’s short, sizzling commentary on a weighty subject. Our arbitrary and strictly enforced word limit: 365. Today: Alice Neville on why you should tell your kids that Santa isn’t real.
Santa controversy upon Santa controversy has beset us this festive season, so you’d be forgiven for being thoroughly sick of the old creep.
But hear me out, for my message is not about whether Santa is a woman, Māori or an eternal demon, but about a fact plain and true.
Santa is not real.
Yes, you probably knew this already. So why do you lie to your kids about it?
“It’s the magic of Christmas!” you’re probably thinking. “Let them be innocent and full of wonder before they have to face the horrors of the real world!”
To that I say: bollocks. I never believed in Santa, and I’m fairly sure none of the multiple complex adulthood problems from which I suffer are directly attributable to this fact.
Yes, little Alice didn’t buy into the Santa scam. My parents attempted to keep up the facade, but I had an inquiring mind and, probably more pertinently, two older sisters.
As I reached adulthood, I grew ever more adamant that this mass deception needed to stop. Initially, I believed it was an insult to children’s intelligence. Now I have five nieces and nephews, I realise I was perhaps giving them too much credit.
But kids aren’t dumb, they’re just trusting as all hell. In the middle of the night, when they’ve woken from a nightmare, why do we desperately reassure them that monsters aren’t real and magic is only in stories, then turn around and try to convince them that a fat man in a red suit flies to every child’s house in a single night via a magical sleigh pulled by freakin’ reindeers?! It’s nothing short of absurd.
I know parents just love being given advice from a childless know-it-all, but here’s what I reckon: to ensure a healthy, mutually respectful parent-child relationship, trust is essential. And if you’re feeding your kid bullshit, once they realise it’s bullshit they’ll hold it against you.
It doesn’t need to ruin the fun of Christmas. I bloody love Christmas, always have. We don’t need to banish Santa, just be honest about what he is: a fictional character, like Dora the Explorer, Peppa Pig and, um, Jesus.
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