Santa Claus is a Big Fat Jerk

By: Keith

I don’t understand why parents lie to their kids about Santa Claus.  I can’t do it.  I know what some of you are thinking; this must be some religious stand I’m taking, right?  No, surprisingly, it isn’t.  This is just a parenting style I made the decision when the boys were born that I would try my best to always be truthful.  Christmas is no exception. Thus, when that first Christmas came around (before the kid even understood anything about anything) Mely and I exchanged presents and we gave a few to Neil, too.  It’s been that way ever since.  We give each other presents, and the kids have never had any reason to think that the gifts come from anywhere else.  I never said there was a Santa, and never acted like he exists. The kids have never had any reason to think he does.  Easy Peasy!

Except For When it Isn’t Easy

Ah, if only we lived in a world where I don’t have to undo the nonsense they pick up from TV and friends.   I say that we’ve never had Santa in our house, but that isn’t entirely accurate.  It’s true; we haven’t ever led on about Santa.  However, I have had the Santa-doesn’t-exist talk because, over the years, their friends have talked about Santa, and they see Santa themed movies on TV.  It was a brief talk, and it went like this: “Dad? Does Santa exist?” And then I said “No, he doesn’t.  All your presents come from family and friends… .”  There’s a bit more of course, but that’s the idea.  The thing I really want the kids to understand is that economics is a real thing.

Economics: Santa’s a Little Bit of a Dick.

Does anybody want to live in a world where one, all knowing guy, determines your overall value as a person based on your economic status?  Because that’s what Santa Claus does.  If you’re good, he brings you presents, but the presents you get will always be just about at the value your parents could afford if they were to buy the presents themselves.  Thus, no matter how good you are, Santa will never see past your parent’s bank account.  Rich kids, therefore, must be better people.  If the kid next door wants a $25 Lego set and a $3,000 dollar go-kart and gets both things, that’s fine.  But, if my kid wants the same things but only ends up receiving the $25 Lego set, the only determining factor left, in a world ruled by Santa Claus, is how good the two kids were during the year.  OR – rich kids are just better people.  Sorry, but Santa is a dick.

I love my kids no matter what they give to me in return.  If all I can give them is a $25 dollar toy, they should know that they got the toy because I love them, not because they sucked up to an all powerful arbiter who values rich people more.  Santa perpetuates economic inequality because, unwittingly, parents are telling their kids that they are worth only as much as the value of the gift they get. Remember, no matter how virtuous, kind, loving and generous your kids are, they will never have been as good as the rich kid who got more.  Do you really want your kids growing up with that baggage?

24 Responses to “Santa Claus is a Big Fat Jerk”
  1. Chopperpapa December 6, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

    Can’t say I agree with you on this. I don’t think there is any harm in keeping them in the dark. Call it innocence, call it easier. Heck, call it even being selfish of not wanting to miss out on the looks on their faces on Christmas morning or writing the letters.

  2. Rob December 7, 2011 at 6:25 am #

    My four year old doesn’t understand the economics of Christmas, but he is starting to get some joy out of the “magic” surrounding it. We’ve also been playing elf on the shelf this year. Every day, they run around the house trying to find out where she’s gone … it’s completely awesome to watch. Yeah, I guess I could tell them that the elf is fake, and that I followed the “elf” trend like just another sheeple. Wow, what a boring, boring existence that would be.

  3. Michael Knautz December 7, 2011 at 6:28 am #

    WOW! Well written. I agree with just about everything you wrote. I do agree with Chopperpapa about the innocence and their faces and maybe you can work in the inequality….not sure how as I write this.

    I mean really by rites wouldn’t Santa just bring every good boy and girl the SAME thing….but I think a few years of Santa is not a bad thing. When they are ready to learn the value of a dollar and that you can’t have everything you want then it’s time to set them straight.

    But again very well written and a great look at the other side of the coin.

  4. Scott Murray December 7, 2011 at 9:38 pm #

    What? There is no Santa Claus?!?! The next thing you’re going to tell me is that there’s no Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Mother Nature, Father Time, and that guy from the Government is NOT here to help me!
    Ah, Almighty Dad! Logic has no place in an arguement when emotions prevail. Kids are not as dumb as we parents think they are. No, mine have put me in my place many a time! So, I do not feel a little fantasy while they’re young hurts. Eventually, they will figure it out for themselves.

  5. Stephanie December 10, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    My kids are deep, deep believers in Santa, enough so to drive me a little up the wall, especially as my oldest is 9 and still believes. She still believes in fairies for that matter, and we’ve tried hard to convince her otherwise on that one.

    I don’t stress about the economic differences because the kids don’t. They know that gifts from Santa are somehow limited economically, but they really don’t care. It may help that their “Santa” gifts are the most boring most years. He can have credit for the clothes and the random stocking stuffers; they’re going to thank me and their father for the toys.

  6. beth December 16, 2011 at 6:48 pm #

    Gotta agree totally. We never told our kids that Santa existed or didn’t exist. Culture made them look forward to Christmas, though they asked early on if there was really a Santa Claus. We said, “No.” We then told them the actual story of St. Nicholas and let them know that the tradition of Santa Claus is based on his generosity. If they wanted to emulate that generosity, then they understood the spirit of Christmas. And nobody got trampled in Wal Mart trying to buy a Tickle Me Elmo. Our Christmases have always been on the modest side. For us, it’s about family, friends, and (I know you disagree, Keith, but…) the birth of Christ. And I’ve thought Santa was dick for ages. Even when I was a kid and believed in him it seemed a little extreme that I should get some cool toy while some other kid didn’t even have a good meal.

  7. Mike December 16, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

    I don’t know that I’d call telling your kids a myth lying. My son is too young to care either way, but i look forward to pretending together that the myth of Santa is real. The trick will be making it clear that it is just a myth. Telling truth from fiction will be a useful skill when he’s old enough to vote…


  8. Eric emory December 18, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

    I find it absolutely hilarious that you’ll “take a stand” and tell your kids there is no Santa Claus and yet you’ll indoctrinate them into a religion that has as little or less evidence than Santa Claus. Christianity stole christmas from pagans and celebrates the solstice, not Jesus. Preach truth and be honest about everything.

    • Keith December 18, 2011 at 8:09 pm #

      Eric: I’m an atheist. Don’t know where you got that I indoctrinate my kids into religion.

  9. Ruth December 21, 2011 at 2:18 pm #

    If he does exist, he must have some muscle!

  10. Believer in Christ December 23, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

    If you are atheist, why do you even exchange gifts? The whole point of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Christ. Exchanging gifts is in light of receiving the gift of everlasting life that the birth of Christ provided; otherwise, we shall perish in hell.

    • Keith December 23, 2011 at 6:41 pm #

      Much of western culture is wrapped up in Christian traditions. I have no problem Taking part in an expression of our culture even if I don’t believe in some of the underlying myths. Memes, and christmas is one, are viruses that we cannot help but to take part. I am comfortable with the contradiction. Besides, christmas is also a celebration of the solctice and a time to be thankful. I am grateful for a lot of things so that’s as good a reason as any to celebrate on December 25 :-)

  11. Kim K December 24, 2011 at 2:02 am #

    If you do not want to be part of the season, why are you giving each other presents? Are you playing a big role in the xmas theater but your kids are not allowed to? Why do you believe that it is ok to give presents around December? Do you know that the 25$, yes the same number that you belittle, is more than some families earn in a month? Do you know that in many countries people do not even know Lego?
    Unbelievable how wrapped up you are in the wrong things!
    Go travel, start enjoying, and give when you feel like it. Stop worrying if Rapunzel is for real.

    • Keith December 24, 2011 at 8:37 am #

      Who said I don’t want to be part of the season? Where did you read that? And why are you making standard of living comparisons? How is that relevant to whether or not I think it’s a good idea to lie about the existence of Santa? I suggest chilling out a bit and perhaps getting off the Internet for a while. It’s seems to be making you overly indignant and self righteous. I travel quite a bit by the way.

  12. Sandie December 24, 2011 at 2:24 am #

    I’d love to see you get a $25 Lego set here. The last decent one I bought was €114.00 {$149 USD} and it ain’t that big. My kids have been brought up with ‘Santa’ but they’ve also been taught not to be greedy and that they are not the only kids in the world. They ask for reasonable gifts, not $3,000 ones.

    I would hope that my kids would never feel they weren’t as good as the kid next door just because of a Christmas gift… that’s a scary thought.

  13. mario prechtel December 25, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    Keith, I get your point that when children compare themselves to “the Jones” during Christmas that the presence of Santa makes socio-economic-status seem ordained by the deity. I have been joking for years that I was going to shoot Santa for the socks and underwear I got as a kid. One mother got so upset at me that she called me in for a “talking too”. She said “he is a God,” as she shook her fist at me. I could only do the “you’re crazy” head shake and walk slowly away.

  14. Lou December 28, 2011 at 11:01 am #

    Our kids understand that Santa only brings them one small gift and anything else is from us and family and friends.

  15. Odd Dad December 29, 2011 at 6:24 am #

    Call us hypocritical, but we tell our kids that Santa exists but God doesn’t. Well, we haven’t said so much that Santa is real as much as we’ve not said he isn’t real. When the question comes up, “Does Santa exist?” we’ll tell them the truth. No, Santa is your mom and dad. My oldest has already asked if God exists and I asked him, “Well, what do you think?” “I think he does exist.” Which is fine for now. We’re counting on our kids to figure out that if Santa doesn’t exist then a silly story about God couldn’t also be true either. We’ve told both our kids that we don’t believe in gods and it’s up to them to make up their own minds. We’re confident that reason will win out in the end.

    • Keith December 29, 2011 at 6:47 am #

      That is a perfectly logical way of handling it, odd dad.

  16. M December 30, 2011 at 8:40 pm #

    Why would you make a commitment to always be truthful?

    • Keith December 30, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

      You didn’t read what I said, M. I said that I made a decision to always try my best to be truthful. The reasons for being truthful are numerous. I shouldn’t have to list them for an adult audience.

      • M December 31, 2011 at 9:06 am #

        As you know the reasons for lying are also numerous. If we set rules (or guidlines if you prefer) for ourselves that we cannot keep we risk putting the rule (or guideline) in front of the goal (I assume that is to best prepare the child for their future in a safe and hopefully happy environment).

        • Keith December 31, 2011 at 9:25 am #

          Right, M, and you still didn’t read what I said. You tried to put words in my mouth by telling me that I made a commitment to always be truthful. That’s not what I said. What I said is this: I made the decision to always try my best to be truthful with my kids (knowing full well that I may occasionally fail despite good intentions). So, no, I did not place impossible guidelines on myself. You are making an argument against a statement that was never made. I don’t know what else I can tell you.

        • Keith December 31, 2011 at 9:36 am #

          Ignorance, no matter how happy it makes you, is no way to go through life. I enjoy reading and watching sci-fi shows, but I also know people who construct their entire lives around fantasy, effectively burying their minds in delusion. There is a difference between enjoying make believe, and believing in make believe. It is definitely not an admirable condition to either keep someone in ignorance or to be in ignorance yourself. We should always be trying to learn the things we don’t know. And, if we aren’t interested in something enough to study it then we ought to admit we don’t know and defer. Ignorance is unavoidable, but lying is not.

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