‘Tis the season to be jolly and there are Santas everywhere. Every single one of them is a Big Fat Lie.
I believed in Santa Claus until I was about five years old. That was when an older cousin informed me that Santa wasn’t real. I was sure that he was teasing. Hadn’t my parents taken me to see Santa so that I could sit on his lap and tell him what I wanted for Christmas? Didn’t we leave milk and cookies for him on Christmas Eve and wake up to find them gone, replaced by stockings full of goodies and presents under the tree? Didn’t we sing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer”? Didn’t Mom follow the Christmas Tradition of reading “The Night Before Christmas” at bedtime as Christmas Eve approached? We had heard it so many times that we could recite it by heart.
I was sure that Mom would back me up and tell my cousin to go wash his mouth out with soap for lying, but when I indignantly repeated his words, I saw her face change to an expression of…Guilt??? She interrupted whatever she was doing, took me on her lap and told me about the Big Fat Santa Lie. That’s not what she called it, of course. She called it “The Spirit of Giving”. I remember exactly how I felt. I didn’t feel angry or betrayed. I didn’t feel sad or disappointed. I felt a sense of loss. Emptiness.
There was an upside, though. I had been initiated into the elite group of children in our family who were part of the “wink-wink” club—those who knew about the Big Fat Santa Lie and who helped perpetrate the deception on the younger kids. It was a rite of passage of sorts. As the eldest child, I was the one who read “The Night Before Christmas” to my siblings. I was the one who sang Santa songs with them.
Santa Claus is connected to Christmas, so if you are not a Christian, the Santa phenomenon already seems pretty ridiculous to you. Some Christians also reject Santa because he has nothing to do with the story of the Birth of Jesus Christ, which is what we are actually supposed to be celebrating. Yes, I know, there was a real Saint Nicholas, recognized by the Catholic Church, but if you compare the story of the original Saint with the Big Fat Santa Lie, you won’t find much in common.
If you follow the Santa Claus tradition, don’t worry, I am not going to preach to you. I carried the Big Fat Santa Lie into adulthood and motherhood, for no better reason than it was a family tradition. I have no right to judge you for doing the same. I have no intention of preaching or proselytizing any religion. Your religious beliefs are your business. However, bad controllers do often take advantage of religious faith to manipulate people. The question is, how do you recognize them before they can do you damage.
Two years ago, I celebrated what will probably be the last “normal” Christmas I will ever have. I enjoyed Christmas Eve with friends and family, ate a lovely dinner and exchanged simple gifts. There was a Christmas tree and Christmas Carols, but no Santa songs. I didn’t think about the Big Fat Santa Lie even once. This year I will still have a Christmas tree and gifts, but there will be no celebration. It will be a Cold COVID Christmas. I feel angry and betrayed. I feel sad and disappointed. But above all, I feel a deep sense of loss. Emptiness.
I have had plenty of time during the past two years to contemplate the roll-out of the Big Fat COVID Lie. Toni Faucci recently reassured children that “Santa is exempt from this because Santa, of all the good qualities, has a lot of good innate immunity” (wink-wink). There’s no time like the present to compare the Big Fat COVID Lie with the Big Fat Santa Lie. How are they alike and how are they different?
Millions of adults believe that COVID is real because the authorities say it is.
Not one of those millions believe that Santa is real.
Millions of children believe that COVID is real because their parents say it is.
Millions of children believe that Santa is real because their parents say he is.
Adults believe that COVID is real because people they trust say it is.
Children believe that Santa and COVID are real because people they trust say they are.
Children can easily discover the Santa Lie by spying on their parents as they “deliver” the Christmas presents (I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus).
The COVID Lie can be easily derailed by demanding to see the science data instead of accepting the dictates and mandates of authority figures.
The Santa Lie creates a warm and fuzzy fantasy world of joyful expectation.
The COVID Lie creates a cold, hard nightmare world full of fear and learned helplessness.
The Santa Lie tells us that “we’d better be good” or we won’t get goodies.
The COVID Lie tells us that we’d better get vaccinated or we’ll lose our jobs and become increasingly isolated in ever more restricted spaces.
The Santa Lie divides us into gullible little children, the wink-wink club of people who maintain the Lie, and non-participants.
The COVID Lie divides us into wide-eyed victims, wink-wink deceivers, blink-blinks who look the other way, and sharp-eyed resistors. Non-participation is not an option.
The Santa Lie wink-wink club will attack anyone who dares to question the idea that it is okay for parents to lie to their children in order to create a pretty, but temporary, fantasy world.
The COVID Lie is defended by wide-eyes, wink-winks and blink-blinks alike who refuse to allow questions or criticisms of any kind.
I could go on and on, but I’ll let you fill in the blanks. Lying can give us a certain amount of control. That is how we justify the behavior. As systems of control, however, they can backfire and become prisons. it is better to avoid them when you can, resist them when you can’t, and use them only when you have exhausted other options.
UPDATE: Although I thought I was going to have a cold and lonely COVID Christmas when I published this post on Dec. 19, it turned out that I had a wonderful Christmas Eve celebration with a very select few of the most special people in my life. They came over with groceries and prepared a feast. Then we opened presents, sang songs, and watched “The Princess Bride”. But most important of all we didn’t let scary headlines keep us from sharing love the way it is supposed to be shared–real people sharing real space and real time together. God Bless Us Everyone.