Children depend upon us to give them accurate information about the world they come into. See: whispering (not so) sweet nothings. They’re so easy to dupe or take advantage of—over and over—because their hard-wiring is set to trust. This doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy a good trick or can’t distinguish between most of what’s real and what’s imaginary—if we help them. They do love to be included in any festive hoodwinking.
Jesus wasn’t born in December. That construct—according to biblical scholars—started mid fourth century and though there’s no definitive answer, the best guess is Jesus was born April-ish. Also, the main thoughts concerning Christianity’s two biggest holy days are that Christmas & Easter were taken from pagan holidays (Saturnalia & Ostara) or Jewish holidays (Chanukah & Passover). Quite a bit of evidence supports these ideas. For instance, the Christmas tree with its lights and decorations is linked to Druidic practices, eggs & rabbits to fertility.
I’ve nothing against 25 December being the “decided” date to celebrate Jesus’ birth. But then who’s Santa? He appears to be an combination of St. Nick, Odin—a white bearded god who rode the skies with Sleipnir his white horse that children left carrots for in their shoes and Odin left grateful presents in return—and the Finnish Yule Goat who dressed in a red suit and brought candy to children. Very little of the traditional icons of xmas are Christian. Sorry.
At my house, we have one solstice tree and for most of my children’s lives we celebrated a self-created solstice ceremony commemorating the light’s return by colorfully drawing on paper what we hoped for ourselves and the world in the coming year, then burned them outside. We do/did have presents, some from “Ms. Santa” which were for the whole house like games or chocolates, but the focus of the holiday wasn’t gifts.
What does this have to do with misleading innocents? Well, many people lie about Santa at the expense of naive kids. When they find out the truth, kids are usually not disappointed that Santa doesn’t exist so much as humiliated because they were left out of the joke. They’re happy to “believe” in Ms. Santa, elves, reindeer, etc. with you and the family.
“You’re Ms. Santa, right?”
“O, no. Not me,” I’d sing-song.
“Come on mamma—you are, too!”
“No, no, no. I don’t know what’s in this present.” They’d just eat this up.
Then there are parents who’ll insist the holiday is really all about Jesus‘ birth. How do they explain all this pagan imagery? Is Jesus’ birth about a glut of gifts and a gluttonous table? BTW, Mary was a homeless teenager with an illegitimate child. These days, certain Christians wouldn’t give her a quarter let alone revere her, and they’d kick her out of the stable.
Let’s all share the fantasy of Santa and reindeer, regardless of age. Let kids in; teach them we can dress truth in fiction to burn all the brighter, but only if everyone’s party to it.