Editorial

What if Santa did exist?

Dianne St. Jean

What if Santa Claus, as described in seasonal tradition, really did exist - a person with the ability to watch you all the time and catch you doing bad things?

Then, his observations of your behavior would determine whether you get a present or not, or worse (like poor Charlie Brown at Halloween) you get rocks instead of candy in your Christmas stocking.

Parents certainly use this point of tradition to their favour in getting their kids to behave better, at least for part of the year.

And just maybe that’s why the Santa stories are directed at children, who are still innocent enough that even their misdemeanors are not yet considered that grave in comparison to those of adults.

To a child, even the subtle threat of not getting any presents is not enough to squash their adoration of the Man in the Red Suit (since they end up getting the present anyway); and, until they are grown enough to figure out for themselves that Santa isn’t really real, the accusation of his non-existence can be devastating to some.

I remember going to pick up my daughter from playschool, to find a scene going on in the classroom. Apparently one little boy had told another little boy that Santa isn’t real (“Pull his beard!”) at which point the boy who was told proceeded to lunge at the bearer of bad news and punch him in the face.

Then there’s the often not-realized reality that children who are not raised with the tradition yet are constantly exposed to it in shops and schools just might wonder if maybe there’s something wrong with them. What do I mean by that?

A pre-schooler who attended daycare in a city that had children from a number of cultural backgrounds asked his mom why Santa doesn’t like Jewish kids.

Slightly shocked, the mom asked, “Why do you say that?”

“Because he doesn’t give Jewish kids any presents.”

Apparently the class had been introduced to the different traditions of the Season and this kid happened to connect the dots. Since Jews don’t observe Christmas: No Christmas – no Santa – no presents for you!

So, aside from being a kid raised in a mainstream Western traditional home that can afford to buy an extra gift (or in some cases, more) – maybe it’s not such a bad thing that Santa doesn’t exist.

Certainly the news of his non-existence would have devastated little Virginia of  “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” fame at that point in her life.

But I’ve often wondered, when Virginia was all grown up, wouldn’t she find the concept of an old man watching her day and night and monitoring her naughtiness, sort of creepy, and say, “Thank goodness there really is no Santa Claus!”