The Santa Claus myth is alive and well in our home. Our five-year-old believes and so do his younger sibs. How long this will last is a mystery. We’ve already identified the schoolmates we think will burst the bubble. (In fact we did this years ago.)
But the real problem may not be an informant friend, we’re coming to realize. There are just too many opportunities to see Santa Claus out and about these days. Any half-witted kid will soon realize it isn’t possible for Santa to be at the mall, on the L, at the neighborhood party, on TV, and at school all within a week and, somehow, never looking quite the same. Now, you may argue that this wouldn’t raise suspicion since children gleefully accept Santa’s trans-global physics-defying* gift delivery trip on Christmas Eve. The difference is that the many encounters of Santas throughout the too-long Christmas season are a much more local, tangible phenomenon than the concept of an unseen Santa flitting through the night sky. And kids are uncanny at pattern recognition with local, tangible things.
Now, I’m not about to throw in with the War on Christmas pundits. In some ways this is the opposite: too much Christmas, not enough room for imagination. My wife actually wanted to talk strategy about how we’d answer if my son asked “Is this the real Santa?” at the local neighborhood festival. I didn’t think we should say that he wasn’t real. Why even plant the seed that there is such a thing as an unreal Santa? We’d just explain that Santa can be in many places quickly, like magic. I’ve polled some of my friends and I seem to be in the minority with this stance. Some friends call Rent-a-Clauses “Santa’s Helpers.” But aren’t his helpers elves? And why would a helper dress up exactly like him? Seems a stretch to me.
Parents, how are you dealing with this?
[*] There’s a rebuttal to the classic Physics of Santa argument. Of course he uses an ion shield. Duh!