This article contains spoiler alerts about Santa.
It has taken me a few days to masticate and digest reports about an article published in TheLancet Psychiatry journal that parents who lie to their children about Santa Claus could wreak havoc with their offspring's moral compass. This could apparently lead to a Bermuda Triangle of floundering lies, tinsel, and disgruntled kiddies.
With all due respect to the learned psychologists who penned the report, I call bulls**t.
The report suggested that by lying about the existence or otherwise of the big bloke in red, parents can irrevocably damage the trust their kids have in them, resulting in "abject disappointment" when said kids discover the "truth" about the Christmas Eve nocturnal visitor. "There is potential for children to be harmed in these lies," said clinical psychologist Kathy McKay, one of the report's authors. What?
Christmas is a time of innocence, magic and wonder, and sure, a few creative porkies. Don't overanalyse or destroy this charming story for kids. They're fine. Parents lie to their kids all the time in varying degrees. We all survived the great reveal of Santa.
The Lancet report's authors did raise an interesting point: "If adults have been lying about Santa, even though it has usually been well intentioned, what else is a lie? If Santa isn't real, are fairies real? Is magic? Is God?" The God bit caught my eye... I know Christmas "should" be about a certain baby blowing out his birthday candles, but not being the most religious chap, I'll stick with the Santa narrative. It's more believable.
I love the whole Santa story, it's wonderful. I love suspending disbelief of the North Pole workshop, the elves, the reindeer, the transport logistics issues. I love the leaving out of Santa's beverage and food of choice, the excitement, the not being able to sleep but forcing yourself to in case he doesn't come. I love waking up on Christmas morning, racing out to the tree, and the unbridled joy of "SANTA'S BEEN!! SANTA'S BEEN!!"
Parents, let kids enjoy the Santa experience for as long as they can. Sure, if they're 48 years old and still a believer you may have a slight issue.
But if not, just chill out, have a quiet drink or a nice cup of tea, and depending on what hemisphere you're in, spray some fake snow on the windows, and listen to Mariah Carey warbling about making her wish come true for the millionth time.
P.S. Santa, I've been a good boy this year.