There is a new M&M commercial on TV that has the talking M&M characters discussing whether Santa will like the red and green M&Ms they are going to leave him. They run into Santa and red M&M says, “He does exist!” and promptly faints while Santa does the same. It’s cute. Except for the insinuation that red M&M may not have believed that Santa existed before he saw him with his own eyes.
These types of wink, wink commercials are everywhere and it amazes me that kids go as long as some of them do believing. I think it is despite what some evidence may point to, despite the looks adults give one another, despite the kids on the bus declaring there is no Santa; kids believe because they want to believe.
C saw the commercial last night and promptly asked,
“Is Santa real? Or is it you that puts the gifts under the tree? Besides the ones you give us, I mean…like, Santa’s gifts? Are you Santa?”
“What do you think?”
“I think he’s real.”
I nodded and smiled and said no more. I’ve struggled a little with the Santa myth and in general try to downplay his role in Christmas. Mostly because I think kids get way too focused on Santa and forget the Jesus part of Christmas and the peace on Earth and goodwill toward man part; I’d rather they focus on the giving, rather than the receiving. Which, naturally, is pretty nearly impossible for most kids.
But, I had a former colleague who staunchly believed that letting kids believe in Santa was simply lying to them and teaching them that lying was OK and that people who let their children believe in Santa were doing them a huge disservice. I am so glad that his kids don’t go to school with mine.
I want my kids to believe in magic, and kindness, and giving. I want them to know that sometimes you just have to put faith in things you can’t see or know for sure. Like God. And Love. And Goodness. I read this lovely article which reprints a letter which appeared in the New York Times which expresses these very sentiments. Perhaps, when they really start to doubt, I will use this letter or one similar to give to my boys.
For now, I think we are safe. If the boys have an inkling that I am Santa, I am pretty sure they will blissfully look the other way. I’ve been telling them for years that you just don’t ask questions around the holidays. This has allowed me to carry in giant boxes from the mail and keep them in plain sight in my room, stating “Nope, not for you!”
I do hope it won’t be a let down for them when they learn the truth. I hope the season will continue to hold fascination and excitement for them. In some ways, I hope they believe forever. After all, believing in magic is the only way to experience it.