Santa is not Real
Early childhood is just a few small spots of memory so faint and warped that I can’t be sure they all actually occurred. One I remember very distinctly is from around third grade. My cubby was next to a girl named Samantha who everybody picked on, I guess because she was awkwardly tall and kind of on edge all of the time, at least that’s how I remember her. We were both hanging up our coats after recess and I asked her what she had asked Santa to bring her for Christmas to which she replied
“Um, I didn’t ask ‘Santa’ for anything, Santa isn’t real.”
Which was of course preposterous, and I told her so. The toys do appear, for one thing, and my parents assure me that they were brought by this Santa, people whose judgements I hold in extremely high esteem. This explanation, however, only agitated her further. Finally she raised her voice at me.
“Santa isn’t real, and God isn’t real!”
The power of these words shut me down. I walked away without saying another word. Hearing that sentence not just spoken out loud, but shouted with such conviction, was earth-shattering blasphemy. I think I carried that phrase around in my head for the week afterward, just playing it over in my head. “Santa isn’t real, and God isn’t real.”
Was Santa real? I found myself reconsidering everything I knew for sure about him. I revisited my previous logistical doubts about the delivery of the presents. My parents had informed me that people all over the world celebrate Christmas, and I had heard that there were five billion people in the world. Even to visit one billion of them in a single night would require the visits be less than a second in length. I imagined him zipping around at impossible speeds like a videotape fast-forwarding.
Then there was the problem of the presents. I was asked to believe simultaneously that some sort of elf slave force created these presents for everybody, and that they were consumer products available in stores and through magazines. Again, I imagined: diminutive green-clad men molding LEGO bricks from raw plastic and assembling kits.
By the end of the week, I felt very silly. Of course Santa wasn’t real! I was shocked at how blind I was to it before. The presents, the cookies, the costumed men in the stores, it was all a ruse, a massive cultural prank on the young and gullible. So that was that. But the second clause still stuck with me.
God isn’t real? Still those words carried such evil gravitas that I couldn’t imagine them being spoken aloud. Santa Clause was a triviality compared to God. I went to church every single Sunday because of God, I was told to talk to him every night and tell him what I’m feeling and what I’d done wrong. In retrospect, Santa was a harmless game, but God wasn’t up for debate. God was real, I knew it. Did I? Samantha had been right about Santa, was she right about God?
It was only years later that I would get to the level that Samantha had already reached by age 8. I have no idea if this is accurate, but I pinpoint this incident as the incident that triggered my lifelong skepticism. Skeptics often brand the Santa myth as a kind of indoctrination to delusional culture, and probably not without merit. However in this instance the whole ordeal taught me maybe the most important lesson of my life: Something that I believed, that all of my friends believed, and that authority figures insisted to me was the truth, turned out to be a complete lie.
‘Santa’ was a real figure. In fact, he and Nikolaos of Myra are the same person. During the cold winters, we celebrate this saint and hope to continue on his good deeds by, for one, donating gifts to children secretly (or at that time, anyone who left their shoes out for Nikolaos). Somehow, American culture turned it into some sort of mind-control practice that completely demeaned this amazing and generous man. In this sense, I will agree that it is of sorts an “indoctrination to delusional culture”.
However, if Santa Claus (whose name was inspired from Dutch Sinterklass) existed, we should not commit fallacy and assume that “God isn’t real” – or rather whether the beliefs of secret societies can be justified. Conventional religions are devised such that we follow scientific reasoning without questioning to the point that we’ve lost sight of our hopes, and some, even their happiness. In the point of view of a skeptic (akin to thelifetimenetwork’s thoughts) the real topic to contemplate on is not whether Santa or God exists, but rather what do we know about our society and how does it influence us?
I’m starting to think the system is trying to brain-wash us into behaving in a certain way – sending me shudders.
Iva Liu, Island School