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The Mythical Creatures of Childhood, pt. 1: Santa


One of the most beautiful and precious characteristics about a bright-eyed little person is their unquestionable innocence. Babies are the pinnacle of human purity. They live their lives without the stress of financial needs. They are blissfully ignorant to the deceit and debauchery of human adult society. They are free and careless. It is truly the only point in a human life when we have absolutely zero preoccupations and stigmas.

But childhood is filled with lies. Adults cannot tolerate unbridled purity.

The adult world is a cruel, unforgiving, dirty, and duplicitous place. Adults learn over time to adapt to the depravity, give it a euphemistically positive name like “indulgence,” and then embrace our filthiness. But this filth is not inherent. Everyone at some point was innocent and pure. We have been programmed to accept the gluttony and excess we’ve created for ourselves as normal and live out our days with nary a concern for how maniacal we are at times. If you take a step back and consider what an extraterrestrial visiting Earth would think about the social normalcy we’ve established, obviously they would have to believe that we are a primitive and naturally uncouth civilization living amongst sheer anarchy. And unfortunately, the E.T. would be correct.

The transformation from virtuous child to manipulative adult begins early and is the result of what our own parents teach us. As parents, we think it’s a game. The little white lies we tell our kids serve no purpose for them. They are concocted because as adults, we need to stray from purity in order to feel normal and more importantly, in order to shape our children to be like us. We convince ourselves that our lies enhance the innocence of childhood. It is far beyond the abilities of an already corrupted adult to enhance anything even remotely orbiting purity.

General lies that we use to “enhance” the childhood experience are as follows:

Santa brings good girls and boys presents on Christmas.

The tooth fairy gives kids money for losing teeth.

The Easter bunny hides eggs with rewards inside for children to find.

In this new series, I’ll examine the mythical creatures of childhood in an attempt to learn why contrived fantasy beings exist in the world of children and what purpose they serve.

Part 1: Santa brings good girls and boys presents on Christmas.

Santa Claus, like most mytholigies, has gone through countless guises through the ages. Like many other sensational fabrications, Santa began realistically enough with 4th century Greek reality eventually blending with Germanic Paganism, Norse folklore, Dutch religious tradition and eventually ending up in the hands of the capitalists. Just like that, *poof* Santa became a bearded fat man who orbits the entirety of the Earth in one night with a fleet of aerial reindeer bestowing unsolicited gifts on well-mannered children.

Odin, father of Thor and embracer of Yule. Maybe not a real person but damn sure struck fear in the hearts of the peasantry and got his groove on during Yuletide celebration.

Instead of children learning the historical mythology behind the man who suspiciously transcends the laws of physics and space/time in order to deliver gifts to billions of children under the auspices of dusk in one night, parents take their kids to the mall to sit on the lap of a stranger with fake-beard rash and inform him of why they deserve rewards. Any other time of the year, the parents would be horrified if their children sat on a strange man’s lap. The lengths parents go to in order to preserve the Santa lie is extraordinary.

Sinterklaas. Dutch reality meets Germanic Paganism and becomes REAL!

The Santa lie assumes kids are stupid. It hinges on children believing a number of smaller lies that complete the image of Santa as real. Much like drug addicts, parents construct the lie on top of numerous other lies like a house of cards. Children are told all of the following fictions and implied assumptions as part of the Santa lie:

1. This obese old man actually slides down your chimey to deliver gifts. Yes, he does it fully clothed without lubricant and doesn’t get dirty. Then he floats back up…magically.

2. His stable of reindeer can really fly without wings or any kind of futuristic jet propulsion device. It’s only a matter of time before modern Santa is sponsored by Boeing or Airbus.

3. He indeed travels around the world in one night for the sole purpose of rewarding good children.

4. The North Pole is a hospitable place outfit with workshops and other, miniature fictional beings that do Santa’s bidding.

5. Inherently, that slave labor is beneficial to this gift-giving operation.

6. Santa is married to Mrs. Claus which implicitly promotes heterosexual relationships. Clearly a religious device at work here. At least children will believe that Santa is welcome at Chick-fil-a.

7. The local news is really tracking Santa’s whereabout on Christmas Eve. Santa has a GPS tracking device.

Children have a remarkable ability to combine imagination and real-world critical thinking. The extravagant lengths parents go to in order to convince a child that Santa is real when he is so clearly and obviously fake is just as remarkable. As a parent, it is hard to imagine what purpose this is actually serving. Insisting upon the existence of this mythical, altruistic being discourages children from questioning other suspicious events in their life and marginalizes their analytical abilities. Telling a bright-eyed, accepting youngster that Santa isn’t real and thereby crushing his hopes for the holiday season is the nicest thing we as parents can do.


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