People always ask me “‘Cheese List Guy,’ what are you going to tell your kids about Santa?” Actually, no they don’t. The only thing people ever ask me in regards to kids is “Would you mind standing somewhere else, just anywhere away from my kid? You’re freaking him out. Thanks.”
But if people did ask me the Santa question, well, boy. I’m not sure how I’d answer it. There are a lot of pros and cons to the situation, as this LifeHacker query I stumbled upon today indicates.
Now, my own personal Santa narrative lasted a little longer than most … a little lot longer. An embarrassing lot longer. Fourth grade is when I learned that Santa doesn’t travel from the North Pole to deliver presents to all the good kids in the world (mysteriously skipping over the poor kids’ houses) in a single night.
I remember it well. I’d just written an impassioned manifesto in Computer class to a kindergartener in my school explaining to him/her how Santa was a real thing. This wasn’t something I just did out of the blue, it was a project. All of the older kids were supposed to write letters to the younger ones to back-up the Santa story. Little did I know that almost everyone else in the class was doing it to humor the little grubby kindergartners. For me, it was serious business. I had a goddamn job to do. Without me, those kids might think Santa wasn’t real and as we all know, not believing in Santa is the first step on the slippery slope to the naughty list.
To back up my assertions about Santa’s validity, I used this rock-solid evidence: My family’s dog Sadie slept on my parents’ bed with them. Sadie was a Beagle. Beagles, by nature, are prone to loud fits of barking when they’re startled, when they’re happy, sad, bored, content, etc. In my fourth grade mind, there was no way they’d be able to sneak out of bed in the middle of the night to put presents under the tree without setting off a Beagle barking spree. I mean, how could you argue with that? It was the Chewbacca defense of the holiday season.
Later in the day, during recess, my good friend and I were discussing what we were considering for our Christmas lists. He had his eye on a very expensive and fancy Civil War themed Chess set. He was very into this idea. He’d even brought in a magazine to show off what he’d be finding under his tree in a few weeks. Remember when I said nearly everyone else in the class was humoring the kindergartners with the letters about Santa? My friend was the reason for that nearly. Turns out he and I were the only two who didn’t get the memo that the big guy in red might be less than authentic.
A few of our classmates asked him just how he expected to get the Chess set? It was quite expensive, after all. Probably more than most people would want to pay for a Chess set for a fourth grader. He looked at them and said: “Santa will bring it.”
The world exploded.
No it didn’t, but let’s just say the rest of the class took great joy in pointing out to my friend that his parents and Santa were one in the same. Like the good reliable friend I was, I said nothing. It was my Peter moment. A cock crowed, recess ended. My friend, for his part, didn’t put up much of a rebuttal to their points. I think deep down we both knew it, we just hadn’t fully accepted it. Anyway, the whole incident was somehow forgotten by lunch time and that was it. It’s how I learned there was no Santa.
The question remains, how do I want to handle this same situation when fruit eventually springs from my loins, summoning the stork who will then trade me a baby for said fruit? It’s just science.
Let’s look at the pros and the cons of leading kids to believe in Santa.
- Pro: The world kind of sucks a lot of the time, so what’s wrong with a little Christmas magic?
- Con: Lots of people are going to lie to the kid during his life, why should his dad be another one?
- Pro: Dad’s already going to lie to him. “This is a great picture you drew of me, in no way is it the stuff nightmares are made of. Let me put it on the fridge and not call the exorcist.”
- Con: Kids grow up too fast these days. By the time they can talk, they’re already too cool for Santa, so it would just be nerdy dad trying to sell him a sandbox in Florida.
- Pro: It’s goddamn tradition and you will respect that tradition.
- Con: My kid, based on his mother and father, is probably going to be a huge dork to begin with. I don’t need this Santa thing lingering into fourth grade and making him even more of a social outcast then he will likely already be.
This is all too much to take it. I’m going to need more time to think it over. In the meantime, I’ll run some tests with my cats. I’m going to tell one that Santa is real and the other that he is not, instruct them not to talk to the other one and track the results.
Once all the numbers have been crunched, I’ll get back to you with my findings.