Ah, the Santa lie. I once wrote a little ditty about my aversion of Elf of on the Shelf just to turn around and write about how I over-the-top participated in the shenanigans to avoid an uncomfortable conversation with my youngest bonus child’s mother. I dread arriving for the holidays next week and being handed that creepy thing, but even more so I dread an argument over it. K is not my daughter. I am not her mother and whether or not I like it, as a “step-parent” I don’t get a say. It isn’t my place to have the conversation. So I bite my tongue. And yeah, that is hard. The truth is, I actually cried to my husband over the fact I am lying to his daughter about these things. I feel she believes in me to have an honest relationship with her and I’m lying to her. Let’s call it what it is: A LIE. A years’ long lie to a child whom I Love and respect. There isn’t a way to explain how difficult that is for me. When she finds out the truth, she will most likely be devastated because she is an emotional child and that is her personality. And I will have added to that devastation; a grown-up who is supposed to set an example of being honest. I wasn’t lied to when I was a child. I didn’t have Santa, Elves, magical reindeer, the Easter Bunny or any of it. And guess what? I AM FINE! I am more than fine! I didn’t miss out on the magic of being a child. I learned the magic of giving and it’s been putting a smile on my face for decades.
So why is it that millions of parents around the globe tell their children that a man who lives in the North Pole watches them year round to make sure they’re behaving? Isn’t it the parent’s job to ensure good behavior? To further perpetuate the idea someone is spying on them, hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) more have jumped on the Elf on the Shelf bandwagon. Each night this little creature goes and reports tattles to Santa (and isn’t tattling wrong?). What kind of message does that send? Strength of character is what we do when others are not watching. Children should not be taught that they will only receive if they are good. That is not unconditional love. It’s bribery. And it is wrong.
The Santa Lie
And where is Santa’s unconditional love? What about the families who don’t have the money for gifts? What about the children in the foster care system? Why doesn’t Santa visit them? My Facebook news feed is popping up with this question posted by other bloggers asking this of their readers because their children asked them. I find it very telling that it is children asking their parents why Santa doesn’t visit others who have less. Children inherently care about others. What do you say then? How do you answer a question like that? Even the hubs didn’t have an answer for that one.
I saw one reply, “I tell them Santa only goes to the house of children who listen to their moms and daddy’s [sic].” WOW. So let’s plant this idea that poor kids are misbehaved? I think that answer sucked, but the truth is, there is no good answer and the poor kids – that’s what many of them already believe about themselves.
So taking into account who the Santas of the world really are: Yeah. Why isn’t Santa going to poor kids’ houses?
It’s a good question. It isn’t just the kids receiving who deserve an answer. The poor kids deserve one, too.
Update 12/13/2016: My stepdaughter has recently discovered the tooth fairy is not real after discovering her teeth in her mom’s jewelry box. A few months ago she exclaimed she is still trying to figure out Santa and explained her reasons for thinking he may not be real (aka she is figuring out the Santa lie). She asked my husband, “Why do parents have to lie to their kids?” High five, K. High five.