Why do we tell our children there is a Father Christmas? Is it so that they will feel good – or so that we will?
I believed in Father Christmas till I was 9 years old. I used to go to bed early on Christmas eve so that Christmas would come sooner. And I really thought that a fat, red-velvet clad man came into our house every Christmas morning. He kindly filled the pillowcases we'd hung on our wardrobe door with goodies for me and mechanical thingies for my brother. It didn't matter that we didn't have a chimney in our house – because I didn't learn about Father Christmas from the media – I learnt about him from my mom. So we – and all the other households in our neighbourhood – had Father Christmas climb through the window.
This Christmas will be no different. Windows will be openly waiting, as neighbourhood upon neighbourhood is suffused in Santa subtext. Christmas will be saturated in festive fantasy as parents tell their children that the jolly old man is coming to town. Parents ask older children not to "spoil the surprise" and the younger ones that have figured it out are subtly coerced to "play along". The situation is such that the kids are starting to propagate the lie for the parents' sake instead of the other way around.
Yet, parents will sneak into their children's stockings late on Christmas eve to fill them up, taking care to nibble on the biscuits and milk the children carefully left as Santa's snack. It seems to be a trend that parents enjoy Christmas more when they experience it through their children, high on gift-glee. Has it become a case of parenting vs perjury?
Whatever the answer, I'm glad that, even if just for moments, I really believed in the fantasy figure that is Father Christmas. And, alright, I admit, I really only believed in Father Christmas till I was 5 – but those 4 extra years of waking up to a pile of presents were great!
Why do we keep the Santa myth going? Is it more for us or for them? Aren't we just teaching our children that it's ok to lie for a good cause?