John Belitsky believes we’re creating a nation of little liars and conspiracy theorists with this whole Santa thing.
Like many adults, I was once a child. And like most children, I had a thing for toys. My love for toys was more of a stalker’s lust from a distance, as gifts were less than abundant in my household. That’s code for “we were broke”. But what we lacked in material wealth we made up for in wishing we were rich. And we also benefitted from abundant familial quirkiness, which stood in for toys or any other kind of economically inaccessible entertainment.
At the head of our little circus is my father, an unusual man. I won’t get into details, other than to say that he consumes inordinate quantities of bread and marmalade. Loaves and jars, respectively, in a single sitting. He eats onions like apples. He doesn’t drink very much alcohol, in my opinion. But I didn’t start typing on this crappy little iPhone screen to share my father’s diet with you. I mention Bernie (that’s my father’s name, follow along please) because at this wonderful time of year I always recall that he never tried to sell me on Santa. I know what you’re thinking- “Bernie must be a Jew”. Yeah, you guessed it. But that’s not why he 86’d Santa. He did it, quite simply, because he refused to lie to me. In turn, I’ve never lied to him. Never. That’s meaningful, at least to me and my father. It also begs the question, “What the fuck is up with lying about Santa anyway”?
WTF IS UP WITH LYING ABOUT SANTA?
By now most people realize that Santa is a brilliant piece of marketing manipulation that ties a fictitious holiday character to faux generosity in the name of a made up miracle man’s birthday. But did you know that perpetuating this lie is fucking stupid? Like many parents with ridiculously cute toddlers, I too considered misleading them for my own amusement and chalking it up to “maintaining their innocence”, but alas I decided I simply can not. I can not lambast my government for using scare tactics to push through the Patriot Act and then warn my kids to behave or suffer the wrath of the Boogey Man. There is only so much hypocrisy and deceit you can expose a child to before he turns into a criminal, or worse, a politician. And not even politicians have such heinous life plans for their sometimes beloved offspring. So it is with great clarity that I maintain that you shouldn’t deceive, or even bullshit, your children.
Let’s examine this colossally cockeyed story together to put it into perspective; A strange man spends his life managing a team of tiny toy builders thousands of miles away in a frigid tundra, only to give those toys away for nothing to children the world over, simultaneously. If it weren’t for the obvious lack of toys bestowed upon the poorest of planet Earth’s citizenry, I’d be incapable of understanding for a minute how the Tea Party, Ted Cruz and Christian Right tolerate this tale. Not even our youngest and dullest of children believe this bullshit. Indeed the only reason they consider its plausibility at all, is because every fucking adult they know maintains its legitimacy.
Think about the size of this ruse, please. There are 7 billion people on this planet. How many of them walk around informing children that Santa is a farce? This is some Truman Show shit. Santa Claus makes JFK’s assassination seem like a remedial conspiracy class project fumbled by half-wits. But this also makes me wonder; if people would go through such great lengths to protect children from the truth about Santa, which is nothing more than a capitalist spawned cultural craze forever married to the world’s largest religion purely to sell more shit, what else are we all collectively conspiring to obfuscate? Are we humans simply super conspiratorial?
YES, WE ARE SUPER CONSPIRATORIAL
Did the CIA kill JFK? Were the terrorist attacks of 9-11 planned in concert with the US government? Did Barack Obama cut a mystery track with Tupac before producing Biggie’s famed “Life After Death”? Every day it seems a new conspiracy theory is espoused, unearthing years of lies and exposing institutional level misinformation. We seem to be culturally inclined to formulate conspiracy theories, as if we’re constitutionally incapable of believing anything presented as fact.
It’s almost as if we were lied to at an early age about something so ridiculous, we’re left scarred for life, untrusting of others and convinced we’re being deceived and laughed at by those in positions of authority. As if, I don’t know, our own parents lied to us. Like, a lot. Year after fucking year. About stupid shit. About fictitious fat Nordic guys in Queens, NY sliding down chimneys that didn’t exist in toyless apartment buildings. White guys in all ethnic neighborhoods, that somehow not even the crackheads that are up all night hitting the pipe saw. Which is crazy because they see shit that doesn’t exist, but none of them ever saw an overweight white guy on a sled with a bunch of reindeer and still-in-the-box product that could be easily pawned.
In much the same way we teach our kids empathy and respect and watch them become empathetic, respectful adults, when you teach your kids that there are inexplicable reasons to lie about impossibly ridiculous myths, you have to expect them to become untrusting liars. And you know what? They are. Just look at the volumes of conspiracy theories and actual conspiracies that exist. It’s hard to say what came first, the conspiracies or the conspiracy theorists, but it’s plain to see that if you lie to your kid about Santa, you’re a co-conspirator. And more than that, you lie in the name of consumerism.
YOU LIE IN THE NAME OF CONSUMERISM
I’ll assume that if you’ve read this far along you’re a conflicted Christian. Now, then, as a Christian, it’s safe to assume you know next to nothing about Christianity, so let me share a story you should be familiar with; The story of Jesus and Judas. Jesus had 15 Apostles. I’m kidding. He had a dozen after taxes, which is all that matters, and which is why beer is sold in increments of 6. One of his apostles, Judas, betrayed him, handing him to the Sanhedrin priests in exchange for thirty silver coins. Judas mislead Jesus. He gave the son of God to his mortal murderers. But he did it for money. Which is a great reason to do terrible things. Why, exactly, are you misleading your children? Who is benefitting from this? If your children knew that you were purchasing their toys, might you be inclined to spend less? Is this maybe a simple ploy to disambiguate between the purchase and purchaser? Who’s bullshitting who, homeboy? You’ve been trained by the beneficiaries of this deceit to lie to children as a means to manipulate yourself, yoyo. And if not, then who, or what are you lying for anyway? It’s not religion, as Santa has no place in Christianity. It’s not for your kids, because hey, why should they give a fuck who buys them toys? It’s for consumerism, cockhead. If that makes you uncomfortable, why don’t you just take the (2)5th when your kids ask about the fat man?
My eldest son asked me directly- “Dad, does Santa exist?”. My wife pleaded with me to just say yes. I could not. Caught between what I see as an absolute moral imperative to tell my son the truth and the desperate if misguided pleas of the person who gives me 100% of my sex, I summoned the wisdom of our great country’s greatest document. My answer to my son was simply, “I can not answer that question, I’m afraid I have to take the 5th, or in this case, the (2)5th”. Let him figure out this Santa ordeal himself, but let him not forever recall his father as an actor in a silly conspiracy. Let him know now and forever that his respect means more to me than a fake fat man. And let him also know that I’m unwilling to force upon him my own views. Instead, I maintain my right and privilege to say nothing, loudly.
Lead photo: Flickr/Rhonda