Ancient stories about Santa may be confusing to todays children

Published 7:02 pm Sunday, December 10, 2023

By Bob Ann Breland
Columnist
As smart as children are today, it must be confusing to them that there is a different Santa Claus everywhere they go. Go to one mall shopping with mom and there he is. Same day, go to another store and there is another Santa.

          Think about it. Although parents tell them he isn’t the real Santa, just a helper, the sign plainly says “Visit Santa Claus”.  The child has also noticed even the Santa suits and the sizes of Santa are different from store to store. They know Santa’s helpers are elves and these aren’t elves.

          “It’s magic,” their mom says when questioned about the irregularities. And when they keep endlessly questioning her and she runs out of answers, she says “Okay, just keep on! Remember, when you quit believing in Santa, he quits coming!”

          Then the questions stop because the kid has his answer. We aren’t raising a generation of dummies. They are much smarter than we were at their age. In my day, we swallowed the whole story, hook, line and sinker for years. One Santa from the North Pole who makes it around the world in one night and makes stops!

          Unless they are really young, today’s children aren’t really buying that. They study math in school and know how to figure how long it takes even a magic sleigh (or a jet plane) to get around the world in one night without any stops. So if your child is over five or six, he/she probably already has figured it out.

          In my childhood days, Santa was a mysterious figure who made an appearance once a year and if we had been really, really good, he might bring us one thing we really wanted. Unless one lived in a big city (which we didn’t) and visited a large department store, Santa was just somebody we had heard about.

          Television was unheard of and magazines were pretty scarce for country kids. We colored pictures of him at school and we might have heard his “ho ho ho!” on the radio, but that was about it except for the candy car that came to the elementary schools in Franklinton. Santa and his elves were on that float. Other than that, we never saw him — but that didn’t keep us from believing.

          On Christmas Eve, no matter how carefully we looked and listened, we never quite caught sight of the big boy in the red suit or heard him – except for one memorable year!

          The tree was in the living room and my bedroom was close by. I heard somebody open a door.  Nobody locked doors in those days. I didn’t pay it much attention because Santa is supposed to come down the chimney. As soon as things got quiet again, I tiptoed into the living room to investigate and discovered it had been Santa after all! The cookies and milk were about gone and there were presents under the tree. If I had just hopped out of bed earlier, I could have seen him!

          My questions were never fully answered as to why he came through the door and didn’t use the usual route through the chimney, but it was okay. He came and he brought presents. It was a long time before we doubted Santa again.

          Then we come of age and realized that Santa represents the spirit of giving that arrives about this time every year. We don’t get mad at our parents for filling our heads with a lot of fantasy. Instead we pass the fun along to our own children to share with their children.

          The tradition of Santa Claus or St. Nicholas or whatever he is called in many parts of the world, continues as a part of the most giving time of the year.

          It goes back to three wise men that came from afar to bring gifts to the newborn babe in a stable – who came as the greatest gift of all time.

          So while we indulge our children with tales of Santa Claus, let’s also tell them a real true story about the birth of Jesus, God’s Gift to the world.

          Make sure they know it’s the real thing — not magic or a fantasy. It is the greatest and most important story they will ever hear.