Leave Santa Be

My comment in a thread about a Primary (think Sunday School) teacher who decided to “out” Santa to the students in her class.

Ah, the trouble with reality is that it’s not as real as you want it to be when you look at it really close.  I am troubled by the smug snobbery against things magical/mystical and those who believe in them.  There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in any of our philosophies, no matter how enlightened or inspired or evidence-based those philosophies might be.  Some healthy skepticism is healthy, but an inflated faith in the validity of your current understanding is every bit as damaging and fantasy-based as any superstition that ever was.

My children have never heard me say there is no Santa, or no Easter Bunny, nor will they.  There are plenty of ways to see to it they understand the important things to know about Santa in age-appropriate fashions without telling them that they were lied to, and that all these things are a fraud.  Faith is an important thing, and there are valid things in Santa to have faith in.  Has nobody read “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus“?  If so, then try this on for size:

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

I have no problem debunking urban legends — I follow the Snopes.com rss feed and share some of the things that come across there on FB when I think it will help stop the circulation of hoaxes which are harmful.  Santa can be done without harm, and should be done thus, and trying to strip him out of the world out of some misguided sense of not “lying” to our children, or of pointing them to the “truth” about Christmas is to steal something of value to children of all ages that can’t be found in any other way.

Most people in most of the world for most of time have believed in things considered today to be magical and superstitious.  These beliefs were attacked by institutional churches and secular skeptic alike a few centuries ago, and they managed to ingrain the contempt the Western mind has for these things quite successfully.  Just as every child believes his parents stupid until he becomes them (or an adult), the present considers the past ignorant and misled and old-fashioned.  A little intellectual humility about the past can mix with a little philosophical humility in the face of those with the gall to disagree to knock back the prideful arrogance and “tyranny of the present” to help us better understand our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, and even sons and daughters.  There is plenty enough of that pridefulness without us adding to it.

Leave Santa be.  You might not be as right as you think you are.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *