Viewpoint: The Santa Claus lie is still a lie

By Shelby Leonard

Twas’ Christmas season some several years ago when we collected, close and cozy, as the recollections began to flow. We reminisced about the rings of reindeer. We talked of tinker toys. We then shared Santa stories from the spell when he was real. The thrilling time turned tragic when one friend told his tale.

My friend told us the story of the Christmas Eve night he caught his dad putting presents under the tree. His tale of deception was not much different than most. We’ve all experienced that moment when you realize that wasn’t really Santa’s lap you sat on at the mall.

It was the aftermath of his discovery that stained my mind. His parents explained to him that other children still believed in Santa Claus and begged him to play along with the lie. I still remember what he said next.

“I knew my parents had lied to me,” he said. “So, from somewhere deep inside my soul I felt like it was my civic duty to tell all my friends that they were being deceived.”

When he returned to school my friend performed his civic duty to expose the lies. But he was not rewarded for this brave act. No, instead the same people who taught him lying was a sin punished him.

The simple truth of the matter is that to tell a child that Santa Clause is a real man who lives at the North Pole with magical elves and nine flying reindeer is a lie.

To lie or not to lie? That is the question.

The debate over the “Santa Claus Lie” seemed a bit arbitrary to me at first. That was, until I did some research. My findings proved otherwise. This is a highly debated topic that people get really hot over.

I didn’t understand the sensitivity of the Santa subject. So, before I chose my cross, I read all sides of the debate. I carefully took into consideration all influences before coming to my ultimate supposition based on faith.

Supporters of the “Santa Claus Lie” argue that it is a good lie. I found that many people believe this myth of Old Saint Nick benefits children because it challenges children to be good.

“Santa Claus promotes imagination and imagination is good for a child’s mind,” a pro-“Santa Clause Lie” advocate who wishes to remain anonymous, said.

On the other side, anti-“Santa Claus Lie” persons agreed that imagination is good for a child’s mind, but disagreed with the imagination claim. They argued that tricking a child into believing that Santa exists doesn’t encourage imagination. This actually stifles it.

In my research, I uncovered that a great number of children are extremely devastated when they discover the truth about Santa Claus. Furthermore, psychologists have found that the negative consequences of this experience follow many children into adulthood. When I read that my mind traveled back to the story my friend had told years before.

My friend had been raised in a very devoted Christian home, but as an adult he does not call himself a believer. He has told me on several occasions that he greatly admires the life and teachings of the man called Jesus of Nazareth. However, despite his admiration and genuine desire to trust that Jesus is the Son of God, he said he couldn’t make himself accept that as true.

In no way am I implying that telling a child Santa Claus exists is an action of bad parenting, nor am I suggesting that all children become atheists when they learn the truth about Santa Claus’s fictional nature. My intent is simply to explain how I arrived at my decision.

My decision was ultimately decided by my faith. To paraphrase the Matthew, Jesus said in order to enter heaven you must have child-like faith. I believe this is because as children, we are at our purest form of innocence. In our innocence, trust comes with ease.

Somewhere along the line, our innocence slowly fades. Things happen, people lie and we change. Trusting gets harder. When we loose that pure child-like faith, we cant get it back. I tried to put myself back in that innocent mindset, but it can’t be done. I can’t genuinely believe that everyone tells the truth because I now know that they don’t. Like Eve, the fruit can’t be uneaten. Lies cannot be untold.

I think the “Santa Claus Lie” has a bigger affect on the way a child views the world than we want to admit. I can’t help but reason that something changes in a child when they discovers that the people whom they trusted to love them, keep them safe and teach them right from wrong had deceived them. Whether it is conscious or not, I think a piece of innocence is taken in that moment and replaced with skepticism.

A little skepticism isn’t a bad thing. But if I am ever lucky enough to bring life into this world, I don’t want them to ever have any reason to be skeptical of my honesty when I share the gospel with them. So, the day comes and I am faced with this dreadful dilemma, I know what I will choose. I will choose not to lie to them about Santa Claus.

I don’t believe in white lies or good lies. I believe a lie is a lie. When I tell my child that Jesus is a real man who knows when they are sleeping and knows if they have been bad or good, I don’t want there to be the smallest doubt in their mind that I would lie about a person like that.