Two years ago Slate ran the article, “The Santa Lie: Is The Big Christmas Con Hurting Our Kids?” The answer is probably not. So Kris Kringle on, friends, there is no bummer on 34th Street. In fact, tall-tale storytelling about small Nordic elves who fly could possibly enhance your kids’ cognitive development, because, according to the article, “fantastical stories foster a type of imaginative play that sparks creativity, social understanding and even…scientific reasoning.”
There are detractors, notably Psychology Today‘s David Kyle Johnson, Ph.D. who says perpetuating the Santa myth risks, “damaging your parental trust-worthiness.” However if you asked my kids if I am trustworthy, they’d eye roll. Mommy? The woman who said she didn’t eat the last of the Trader Joe’s Minty Mallows and instead blamed it on the dog? Sure, we believe everything she says about Santa.
In my house instead of Santa being a great
con story perpetuated by parents to have a desired effect on our children (you better be good, Santa is not only a small Nordic elf who flies, but he’s all-seeing and knows if you’ve been bad or good <— this sounds like un-redacted Germanic fairy tale if you ask me), we all take it with a grain of salt. No, not a grain of salt. A pound of sugar with which to make the delicious cookies of well-meaning half-truths and heart-warming stories and winter family traditions because who doesn’t want a little magic? In the middle of the night of Christmas Eve my grandfather (an otherwise stoic man of science) would shake sleigh bells whether we were still up or not.
My son, now nine, had his first glimmer of doubt last year when he realized that all the presents were wrapped in the same leaping reindeer wrapping paper, including the ones labeled “from Santa.” His deductive gears set a-whirring. Hmmmm. Santa has the same wrapping paper as Mommy? Hmmmm. I said matter of factly, “Well, sure, Santa and I have some things in common.” He took that at face value as plausible because, among my other weirdnesses, I collect figurines of fairies. I feel about them the way I do about Santa, who is basically a fat little elf: it’s not that I believe in them as empirically true, hon, it’s that I love fairy tales, little doorways, and it’s okay to tell stories when you know that’s what they are.
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