I remember when I knew for certain Santa didn’t exist. One Christmas I opened a gift-wrapped present to discover a shirt. Of all the wonderful things in the world, a shirt. It turned out, the shirt came with a lesson on how I needed to appreciate the gifts I got and my privilege more. But there was also no greater evidence that Santa definitely didn’t exist. Now, our child believes in Santa, for now. But then she’s not been disappointed by him either.
I’ve realised her customer experience with Santa has always been pretty good. Every Christmas, she has got what she wanted, and more, thanks to it being celebrated with her grandparents. Grandparents – in keeping with their role – are more likely to spoil, and feel the need to go overboard. So if one gift is sought, two are given. In our house, Santa enjoys a pretty high popularity rating for now.
But how do you explain such a Western concept to a child: for instance, why is Santa there? I can’t honestly explain that one. If he’s supposed to come down chimneys, how is he delivering gifts in apartments? I go with windows and magical skills. Why do we have to give him a list of what we want? Because that’s how it works, now go eat your dinner.
There is something wonderful about the concept of a man who turns up every Christmas just to give you a gift, expecting nothing in return. Not even a thanks, which is why you’re expected to be asleep when he turns up. You could go with the Western theory of the gift being dependent on being naughty or nice, but do kids really believe that affects the odds? Birthdays are already proof that past behaviour doesn’t influence the odds of a present being received on a special occasion.
I find the existence of Santa a valuable tool to push my agenda of being kind to others. If Santa can be kind and generous, why can’t you? It won’t work forever. Reality will hit, and the belief in a mythical, jolly old gift-giver will vanish. But till then I don’t see any problem with her believing in him. In fact, I’ll keep it going as long as I can. As long as it’s within the bounds of logic, because I definitely don’t want to buy any more My Little Pony.