It’s that time of year again, and depending on your age, your level of excitement varies. Is there any real value in Santa Claus? Pros and cons of Santa Claus? The under ten group is bursting with joy, gleefully anticipating the numerous gifts they will receive. The over twenty-five age group not so much. They have to balance the budget to finance the many gifts that family, friends, and co-workers are expecting.
Parents are constantly bombarded with the subtle and not so subtle hints about what our kids expect to see under the tree come Christmas morn. It was during one of those begging sessions with my 8-year-old about those darn Pokémon cards that I was forced into introspection. In the quest to get rid of him, I told him that if he kept bothering me, Santa may just ignore him this year. He promptly responded, “Santa? That fictional character!”
Now being a Caribbean native, the tale of Santa was not so easily swallowed growing up. It has something to do with no snow and houses without chimneys. We just can’t relate. Also with schools that all have Christian affiliations, Christmas was about the birth of Christ, and not some dude in a red suit.
Living now smack in the heart of a commercialized Christmas, I am forced to analyze my association with good ole St Nick. In the spirit of full disclosure, I am a sucker for ALL things Christmas. It is hands down my favorite time of year. It occurred to me that all things Christmas for me did not include Santa Claus. And I have not perpetuated the fable of Santa Claus to my kids.
Benefits of Santa Claus
1. Santa rewards kids for being nice
It was from this premise that I decided to analyze if there existed any real value in the belief of Santa Claus. Santa is seen as the Rewarder to children for being ‘nice’. For demonstrating good attitudes and acts of kindness for an entire year.
2. Santa teaches kids to “have faith”
Secondly, there is also the notion that kids need something to believe in. Something ‘magical’, that inspires them to believe in impossibilities and occurrences greater than themselves.
3. Santa teaches philanthropy
Lastly, Santa exudes a level of philanthropy that is admirable. Here exists a person whose sole mission in life is to make the lives of children all over the world better by distributing tokens.
All the traits attributed to Santa and the tradition seem very admirable and indeed worthy of adopting. But let’s delve a little deeper. Santa encourages children to be ‘nice’ all year so that they can get something. That seems to be at odds with the basic principles that we try to instill in children. We teach them to be good, treat everyone well because it is the right thing to do. We do our best to teach them to be kind and considerate, treating people with respect, not expecting to get something in return, but because we believe these are important values that children should possess.
The belief in something ‘magical’ has its roots in our effort to encourage our children to persevere even in the face of impossibilities. We draw a correlation between them believing that a man piloting a reindeer-drawn sleigh and delivering millions of gifts around the world in one night. This will allow our kids to have a greater faith quotient.
That is because believing in what one cannot readily see is indeed faith. And that belief in Santa will somehow translate to our children having greater faith in themselves and their abilities to achieve the impossible.
The least controversial trait of Santa is his philanthropy. Any person who would devote their life to pleasing kids is indeed a hero. Not to mention how he roots for the underdog in Rudolph, when his shining red nose wasn’t so hip. (The underlying lessons of bullies in this scenario is for another discussion).
The tradition of Santa
I must state emphatically that I believe in every parent’s right to expose and instill in their own children, the traditions, and values that they see appropriate and beneficial for their offspring. After all, parenting is personal and private.
Let’s focus on the word ‘tradition’. The word tradition means the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation. This means that whatever ‘traditions’ we expose our children to, it is with the intention of it being passed down from generation to generation.
The myth of Santa may on the surface seem harmless, but the underlying points are a matter of interpretation. My hope is that whatever ‘tradition’ we adopt, we are cognizant of the values they embody and are comfortable having our kids being associated with said values. This requires careful thought and deliberation, but our ultimate goal IS to become conscious and deliberate parents.