Please, nobody crucify me for this, but I’m going to talk about Santa; so, spoilers if you haven’t reached around the age of seven.
My parents were caught between two factions: Keep the tradition of Santa Claus alive, or don’t lie to your kids. Keep in mind, my parents were very open with me: I was still in diapers when we had “the talk” about the birds and the bees. So, my parents wanted me (and any other small humanoid running about the home) to enjoy Santa, but didn’t want to explain later that they had fibbed. What was their compromise between these two positions? Why lie when others will? So, they never told me Santa brought presents, but enough adults, having no compunctions sympathetic with my parents, lied so that I simply assumed the jolly old elf was real.
My sister, always bright for her age, disabused me, and I was rather upset when I asked my parents and they confessed that Santa, or the saint the legend was based around, had gone on to heaven many years before I was born.
Now, I say all this because I wished my sister never told me. Or, I did that Christmas Eve. There were tears. However, it never seemed incumbent upon me to share my knowledge. I was brought behind the scenes early, and never worked to uncover it for others.
With all that set up, today I listened to a gaggle of youngsters debating, as far as their verbal diction and mental acuity could be likened to debate, whether or not Santa was real. All but one defended the Saint, citing the gifts and other such contrivances as evidence. The other, a boy around 7 I had known since he was a toddler, exasperatedly decried their proofs. I was terrified in case they should ask me to adjudicate, for I am not good at lying and cannot bring myself to blatantly say, “Yes, there is a Santa Claus.”
Now, one of the reasons my parents did not want to lie about Santa was that they didn’t want me to, losing belief in Santa, then lose my trust in them. To the point: If they told me that Santa was real and I discovered them liars, how would I then consider their testimony regarding Jesus Christ?
It is good to listen to children, for sometimes their assumptions bear witness to truths that get muddled the older we grow. Santa and Jesus are categorically different, and the children knew this. At a certain point in their defense of Santa they happened upon the topic of Jesus. They grew quite. They chose their words carefully. They thought.
To the point: Belief or disbelief in Santa didn’t factor into their perspective on God. The children clearly saw a distinction. They even, momentarily distracted from thoughts of Christmas presents, began to debate whether Jesus was God or not.
I have always found the atheist contrivance of comparing belief in Santa to belief in God supercilious, a tongue and cheek frivolity meant to dissuade conversation rather than to intellectually defend the position. Yet, I could, listening to those children, hear the parallels between the religious and the pro-Santa arguments. But I kept listening. They knew better than to treat the two on the same level. Or to put it plainly, whatever the similarities between religion and fantasy, even a child can see the difference.