The Wife and I are reluctant to promote Santa Claus to our boys. I feel as though promoting a fictitious benefactor who bestows gifts based on fear (or at least on the condition of good behavior) does not set a good precedent for trusting us or for their faith development.
That, and I don’t feel comfortable with the concept of elves making toys that seem more likely to be produced in China by low-paid laborers than Artic elves.
I haven’t actually heard of any adult troubled by their Santa experience; so for all I know, it’s unfounded. But I do like feeling like I’m honest.
But a quote from G. K. Chesterton, the British writer of a century ago, on the topic gave me pause:
What has happened to me has been the very reverse of what appears to be the experience of most of my friends. Instead of dwindling to a point, Santa Claus has grown larger and larger in my life until he fills almost the whole of it. It happened in this way.
As a child I was faced with a phenomenon requiring explanation. I hung up at the end of my bed an empty stocking, which in the morning became a full stocking. I had done nothing to produce the things that filled it. I had not worked for them, or made them or helped to make them. I had not even been good – far from it.
And the explanation was that a certain being whom people called Santa Claus was benevolently disposed toward me… . What we believed was that a certain benevolent agency did give us those toys for nothing. And, as I say, I believe it still. I have merely extended the idea.
Then I only wondered who put the toys in the stocking; now I wonder who put the stocking by the bed, and the bed in the room, and the room in the house, and the house on the planet, and the great planet in the void.
Once I only thanked Santa Claus for a few dollars and crackers. Now, I thank him for stars and street faces, and wine and the great sea. Once I thought it delightful and astonishing to find a present so big that it only went halfway into the stocking. Now I am delighted and astonished every morning to find a present so big that it takes two stockings to hold it, and then leaves a great deal outside; it is the large and preposterous present of myself, as to the origin of which I can offer no suggestion except that Santa Claus gave it to me in a fit of peculiarly fantastic goodwill.
New Year Resolution: read more Chesterton and feel more wonder.