I believe in Santa Claus
What? People who know me well might call me a skeptic, maybe even a cynic. At times, I can be both, but I do believe in Santa Claus.
Well, okay. I don’t believe he climbs down chimneys or that he has flying reindeer, and I’m a bit iffy on all that naughty or nice stuff. However, I do believe in Santa as a metaphorical symbol of sharing, peace, and good will. Santa being physically real is simply one of the little lies we tell children until they can see the truth behind the lie, and I’m okay with that.
I like many of the things Santa represents. I’d like to think that it is possible for people to live together in peace with understanding and compassion for one another. The day when this is a global reality may be a long way off, if it ever happens, but personifying the idea for our kids could be one way of helping the idea along.
We tell our kids fictional stories to teach them about things and ideas in a way they would find difficult to understand if just the bare facts were presented to them. They may not be able to grasp, or stay awake for, a dissertation on philosophy or ethics, but they will listen to stories about Santa. This old man is kindness and sharing personified. They like him, they may even want to emulate him, and we should encourage these qualities.
Then, when our kids are older, we tell them that the stories are not literally true. This does three more things. It helps them understand the concept of allegory, it teaches that the true value of something may not be what is most obvious, and it demonstrates that they should not believe everything they hear.
Of course, this won’t work if the adults in the equation truly believe Santa is physically real, but that’s a different problem. (That was the cynical part of me. It wanted to have the last word.)