My friend Liz posted on Facebook that her son Silas was bullied for believing in Santa. A long list of people responded with stories of their children dealing with issue of whether or not Santa is real. One parent wrote that their child was told, “God is real. Santa isn’t”. That one got me, and I found myself yelling in my head, “That’s the stupidest argument ever. Just because God is real, doesn’t mean a thing about anyone or anything else. Nobody says, “God is real. Trees aren’t”.
Forgetting the fact that I’m incensed by the logic of a 10 year old I’ve never met, there is a point here. No wonder kids are confused. Adults lie in this society all the time. Climate change isn’t real, but it is. Evolution is just a theory, but it isn’t. Fake news is real, except it’s not. Astronauts never went to the moon. It’s a government conspiracy, except that they did and it’s not. Christianity is the national religion of America, except it’s not. Protesting is wrong, but it’s not.
And, in the middle of this, the “truth” about Santa is what we’re sticking to? Really? How does any kid know what’s the truth anymore? How do adults?
So, Silas, little man, here’s the deal. People tell stories all the time. Some are true. Some are not. Some things are just facts, whether we like them or not. Gravity is real. Climate change is real. Evolution is real and GMOs exist or it’s not and they don’t. (I go with the first one on that).
What matters is why we tell them. The story of Santa may or may not be true (I’ll leave that up to you). But the reason we tell it is that it reminds us of our best self. It reminds us that if one old man can make kids happy by giving to others, maybe we can make the world happier by doing the same. If one man can do it for people he doesn’t know, and it makes him happy, maybe it’ll make us happy, too. Sure enough, it does. In that sense, Santa is always real, and always working.
I know that you know how good it feels to give. You and your family give to other kids you don’t know because people have done that for you. Anyone who’s ever given out of love or kindness or joy knows that those things come back to you, especially when you don’t expect them to.
There are lots of people who tell stories that make the world worse, because they mean to hurt people, or make them feel worse about life. Those are dumb stories because people are trying to be mean, and being mean is stupid. What we need from you and kids your age is hope, innocence, and kindness, because it reminds us that no matter what the “facts” are, (and that gets harder to know every day) people can be nice, people can care, people can make a difference, just like your family and Santa do. They don’t have to have a whole tree full of presents, though I’m sure Santa wants you to have that. They just need something that reminds them that people care about them.
So you just keep on doing what you’re doing — believing in goodness and caring for others, acting goofy, having fun just because it’s fun. You and Santa are right about a lot of things, and we’re better off because of it.
Resisting mean people with peace,