No, Virginia, You've Been Deceived
by Rob Cottignies
Stop lying to your children. Yes, telling your kids that Santa Claus is real is a lie and you are horrible for doing so. The same goes for the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Yakko Warner, Wilford Brimley, and whoever else you trick kids into thinking is magical.
Once upon a time, I was quite smart. I would delve into a subject and pick it apart, criticizing its integrity and answering my questions about it while raising new ones. Perhaps I was an odd child. But what didn't separate me from the other kids was that I believed what my parents told me. When I was learning what things are called, an adult neighbor would point to an airplane in the sky and say "Boat". Of course this is hilarious but apparently I knew better than this roué. I knew it was a plane because that's what my parents told me and they would never lie to me.
Then one soggy Christmas Eve, I went to the bathroom. (That sound gross.) On the way, I saw my mother eating the cookies I had placed out for Santa. The nerve. I stood stunned while she displayed the toys which Santa always left for me. She took them out of shopping bags and scratched off stickers. It made no sense but I didn't want to be naughty so I quietly returned to my room so I could think the whole thing over.
I laid under my awesome dinosaur sheets and wondered why in the world Santa would put my mom in charge of putting his toys under our tree. Then I thought about the world in general and how many people lived in it. Since I didn't really know what religions were, I thought there were only two categories of people- good and bad. (Isn't childhood sweet?) Santa only visited the houses where good people lived. 'How many houses could that be?', my young brain pondered. 'Probably a huge number like a million.' So there it was- one million houses were visited by Santa every December 24th. 'How long would he need at each house?', my adorable mind inquired. He'd have to get in, eat a cookie, leave presents, then get out. I knew he was fast so twenty seconds sounded about right. And maybe another ten between houses.
Alright, thirty seconds a-pop. Let's do some math:
30 seconds x 1 million houses = 30 million seconds
30 million seconds ÷ 86,400 seconds in a day = over 347 days!!!
(and that's for only a million houses!)
'Magic and times zones are great and all', my youthful mind thought, 'but those cannot explain doing almost a year of work in just one night. This is unacceptable!' I puzzled and puzzed until my puzzler was sore. Then I thought of something I hadn't before. Maybe Christmas does come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, was one giant crock of shit.
So there it was- My mom was Santa. My dad was Santa. Everyone's mom and dad were Santa. It was all a hoax. I was furious but I thought that if I exposed the fallacy I would stop getting Starting Lineup action figures. They say revenge is sweeter than a puppy suckling a honeypot, so I decided to play along for as long as I could. For several more Christmas Eves, I would sing about a fictional fat guy and set out cookies for him and go to bed before he "arrived". And for several more Christmases, I got NFL figures of such notables as Dexter Manley, Ken O'Brien, and Ronnie Lott. There was peace on Earth.
My parents never officially told me about their hideous treason but just assumed it by my teenage years. I don't know how other people learned the truth but I don't remember any ruckus at school so I assume their parents let it go as long as it could, then asked them not to blab to their classmates. And so ended an era of blind belief.
Fast-forward to now and I wonder how I'd feel about it all had I been the 'I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus' kid. If you aren't familiar with that song, I'll explain its premise (and I'm very jealous of your ignorance): One Christmas Eve, some disobedient brat who was supposed to be sleeping snuck around his house. Underneath the mistletoe, he saw his mother not only kissing but tickling Santa Claus. Apparently not traumatized, the lad thought it would've been funny had his father seen this spectacle. It's implied to adult listeners that it actually was the kid's father dressed as Santa. People might think this is funny and charming.
I think otherwise. Had this kid told his father about his mother's infidelity the next morning, Dad would've only had two options:
1) 'Well, Balthazar, that wasn't Santa but me dressed up in his costume. You might not know this but your parents are disgusting perverts who like to role-play before bringing out the hoses and peanut butter. Your mother confessed to me that she'd been very naughty this year and needed to be spanked. I did this then was rewarded when she jingled my bells and heated up my Yule log. Also, Santa isn't real. But you should still trust us forever.'
2) 'Well, Balthazar, thanks for telling me. That could not have been Santa because he is not real but it must have been someone dressed up as him. It was probably your mother's Yoga teacher, who she's been having an affair with for months. Pack your things and take the presents from me because everything she got you is awful. We'll go to a hotel and Mommy will get served with divorce papers tomorrow because my lawyer is fast. And Jewish. I'll explain what that means later.'
Either way, the child is crushed and Christmas is ruined. Way to go, Balthazar's parents.
So yeah, don't bullshit your kids. They might have to take care of you one day. Or worse, they might end up like me.
Is this story about your childhood true?
I don't remember. Probably not. Or probably. Whatever.
Would you tell your kids about Santa Claus?
I would teach them about Saint Nicholas and how Sinterklaas and Santa were created in his image. And I would teach them about Krampus because I'd want to frighten them.
Didn't you dress and act as Santa for a friend's Christmas Eve party not once but twice?