Remember when our parents’ idea of a threat was a big jolly round guy in a red jumpsuit that talked to reindeer? Mom and dad would utter those oh-so-powerful words, “Santa Claus is watching you,” then you would pull a 360 in your behavior. It just goes to show how much the belief in this magical figure impacted our lives. But what happened when you found out this mystical man never existed?
Some people may have cleverly put the pieces together before they had a chance to get their hopes up, others, to put it mildly, had their dreams crushed. I was one of those kids that had a dramatic meltdown of my hopes and dreams about Christmas, expressing the idea that my parents betrayed me.
I’ll never forget the day when a simple walk with a friend turned into a passionate debate about the exhistence of Old St. Nick. I was 11 years old when I proposed the question to my friend: “So what do you think Santa’s going to bring you this year?” Her reaction was a mix of amusement and pity. She responded, “You still believe in Santa Claus?” Let’s just say it all went downhill from there. Although I spent the rest of the walk sticking up for the jolly fellow, I knew in the back of my mind she was right. But I still didn’t accept it.
When I got home that day, I ran to my father’s room and simply asked him if it was true. He asked who told me, and I explained the story to him. He laughed and said, “Well..” Then I dashed downstairs crying as I screamed, “Liar!” I ran to my mother, and told her what had happened as she yelled to my father, “Tony, why’d you tell her that!” as I cried with disappointment. She tried to tell me not to listen to my dad, and that the whole point was to instill magic in our lives before we had to grow up, but I just shut her out with anger, complaining, “You lied to me, I can never trust you again, Christmas is ruined!” and locked myself in my room after slamming the door.
Now, I imagine every story is not as dramatic or emotionally extreme as this, but for some children, the fact is, something they’ve held onto for so long is pulled away, leaving them feeling like everything they believed in is fake. When you think about it, there’s no better prolonged “lie” in the history of time than the idea of Santa Claus.
Around Christmas you see him everywhere. You sit on his lap, you notice the cookies you leave out are half-eaten and the reindeer prints in the snow are as real as can be.
Even the jingle of bells can convince you he’s flying in the starry night sky. And who better to trust than your parents, especially when all of your friends (well, most of them anyway) believe the same as you?
This experience teaches you to question everything you perceive to be real. If you ask me, it’s the best lesson a kid could learn.
Maybe that’s why parents prolonged this myth for so long, to teach us to look at the world with a skeptical eye… Nah, they just wanted to make sure we ate our broccoli.