I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time now. It’s a question that’s come to mind more than once, but I usually push it aside because… well, because “that’s just the way things are”.
But it kept nagging in the back of my head, never really letting me rest.
Now, I will say that my children are all old enough now that they’ve known the truth about Santa for a LONG time. Like, a REALLY long time. They knew he was make-believe long before the world thought it was cool. Because even back then, it bothered me!
The question is: Why do we blatantly LIE to our children about this fictional Santa Claus?!
Not Really a Lie?
So, when the topic DOES come up, I often hear, “Well, you know, Santa was a real person, after all, so you’re not really lying”.
That may be true, but some facts remain…
- Is he still around today?
- Does he really reside at the North Pole, with his wife of some hundred years? (Did he EVER?)
- Are there really 8 “tiny” reindeer that magically fly and pull a sleigh, one of them with a magically glowing nose that works better than a fog light?
- Can he really see your kids when they’re sleeping? When they’re awake? When they’ve been bad or good?
- Does he really fly all over the globe in a single night, stopping time if he has to?
Come on now. Even fairy tales draw the line somewhere!
Was He Real?
Apparently, according to some accounts, the legend of the man in red can be traced back all the way to the year 280. “Saint Nicholas” was said to have given away all of his money, going on to travel around helping the poor and sick. I won’t say that wasn’t commendable.
He found his way into America before there was ever even a constitution, taking on the Dutch name, “Sinter Klaas” in December 1773. By 1804, a member of the New York Historical Society was passing out woodcuts of the Saint, for more commercial purposes.
In 1809, Washington Irving, in his book, The History of New York, called him the patron saint of New York. He was described in many ways. Some people saw him as a man in a red waistcoat, a blue hat with three corners, and yellow stockings. Others believed him to wear a “huge pair of Flemish trunk hose” and a broad-brimmed hat.
The First Live Santa Claus
The very first, real-life Santa Claus appeared in the 1890s, as the Salvation Army began utilizing the unemployed men of the city, dressing them as Santa, and sending them to solicit money off the streets of New York City.
They’ve been ringing bells ever since.
You can read more historical facts about this legend on the History website.
Make-Believe Santa’s, All Over the World
It isn’t just America that tells legendary stories of some false gift-giver. Though the stories vary greatly (yet just as unbelievable), they all stand on the same premise. Someone travels the world to give children gifts.
- Switzerland and Germany have Kris Kringle
- Scandinavia has Jultomen
- England has Father Christmas
- France has Pere Noel
- Russia has Babouschka (a little old woman, known for lying)
- Italy has La Bafana (a witch who rides a broomstick)
These make-believe entities are all feared, revered, or loved by young children. They think if they can just “be good enough”, they will find favor in the eyes of these characters and receive good gifts.
There’s just one thing wrong with that…
Parents Aren’t Suppose to Lie!
I’ll first admit that I am guilty of telling the lie. I suppose we have lived in a world where the “lie” has been perpetrated long enough that it no longer feels like a lie.
There’s an interesting quote that comes to mind at times like this. You may even have heard it yourself:
If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.Attributed to Joseph Goebbels, Propaganda Minister to Adolph Hitler
Wikiquote says that this quote was only attributed to Goebbels and that his words were twisted to create the idea that he had said this. There is actually quite a bit of controversy surrounding the quote, but the fact is, we have it. It came from somewhere. And someone will always believe it.
However, as parents, we are not supposed to lie to our children!
In fact, if you were asked to tell any other lie, about more important matters, it would seem incredibly distasteful!
But Wait! There’s More!
Oh, but the lie doesn’t stop with Santa Claus (or whoever he was), does it?
As a parent, I’ve told other lies as well. I’ve stood for the validity of the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and the fact that thunder is just “God moving His furniture”.
I’m sure in some ways, it seems cute. “Let them enjoy the magic,” they say. Let them have fun!
Well, when they discover the lie, and if they have any ability whatsoever to think for themselves, we could face bigger problems. Not the least of which is their distrust in us.
Odds are none of us understand the lie we told (or are continuing to tell) well enough to defend our REASON for lying. If our child were to blatantly ask “why” we told them this person was real, what is the right answer?
And what if we then turn around and ask them to believe in this man called Jesus? Why in the world would they, after we’ve already lied about so much? Or is that part of the devil’s scheme anyway?
But they aren’t the ones we should be worrying about.
Whose Side Are We Really On?
The Bible speaks volumes about how we should act, speak, and conduct ourselves. When we blatantly lie, especially to our children, we are acting contrary to what we know.
Just look at what Paul said:
Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;Colossians 3:9, KJV
Proverbs even tells us that the Lord hates a lying tongue:
These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart tat deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischeif, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.Proverbs 6:16-19, KJV
If you look closely, you’ll see that lying is the only thing mentioned twice in this list!
The Point Is…
With the tools we have today, it’s easy to find exactly what we want in the Word. We can even take our pick as to which “version” we want to use to drive the point home.
We should use those tools, not as a reason to excuse what we’ve been doing wrong all our lives… or at least what we’ve been doing while under a false assumption, man’s doctrines and traditions if you will. But then, Jesus tells us to steer clear of THEM as well! (Matthew 15:9)
It’s not really a matter of whether or not we want to “take Christmas away from our children”. We can have a wonderful Christmas, explaining the reasons – historically – behind people’s ideologies. We can teach them about the ultimate gift from Jesus. And we can teach them that being kind and loving one another are things Jesus wants us to do.
But can we really be comfortable in lying to our children? That’s where I found myself. I was NOT comfortable with that, and prayed and found a better way. After all, don’t we all work out our own salvation with fear and trembling? (Philippians 2:12)