The Lies That Santa Taught Me
Why Do People Lie About Santa?
I can’t imagine a parent that wants their children to lie to them. Yet, most parents do not hesitate to perpetuate the myth that Santa is real by telling their little children to be good or they will get coal. They say with absolute conviction that Santa has flying reindeer, lives in the North Pole, and knows if they’ve been naughty or nice. Santa has a whole bunch of slave elves that joyfully work free of charge making toys all year long.
Parents spend years building up the Santa myth into a great crescendo. They go to extreme lengths to hide the true buyer of Christmas presents from the child only to drop the big bomb of truth on them around seven or eight years old. I’ll never forget the day my mother finally told me that there was no Santa Claus. I don’t think she’ll ever forget it either. I cried and cried and cried….for hours. Days later, I was still depressed. I felt that life was over at the age of seven. Even though my mother assured me that the presents would continue to flow, I wanted them to come from Santa. I didn’t want them from my mother.
I believed that Santa listened to my wishes; would my mother? Santa knew I was good and rewarded me for that goodness; my mother didn’t always do that. I had a pristine relationship with Santa, and now my mother tells me it is all a big fat lie. What else had she lied about? Should I ever believe her again? If I’m honest, I hated my mother in that moment. My trust in her as a safe guardian took a nosedive on that day. I felt that she let me down.
The odd part of this whole story is that she told me about Santa when she did because I saw her placing the presents under the tree. She thought her cover was blown, but I was perfectly happy to ignore the evidence. I just didn’t want the myth that I loved to be destroyed.
So often, I find this same obstacle to letting go when I’m mentoring people. They don’t want to destroy the myth that their parents were perfect even when there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They don’t want to destroy the myth that the priest was a man of God even when he abused them. It seems that when we decide that a myth has benefit or reality looks too painful to honor, we will hold on to the story regardless of the evidence or negative ramifications. Some say the word denial is an acronym that stands for “Don’t Even Know I Am Lying.” That says it all.
Allowing Santa to be a Myth
I guess I eventually decided to allow Santa to be just a story character. And I agreed that my mother did a damn good job of choosing presents for me. I sorted it all out in my mind. But I decided that the trauma of believing something for a short period of fun and then later having to let it go was more trouble than it was worth. As you can tell, Santa gave me a career.
Years later, when I had children, I allowed the Santa myth to just be a damn good story about a cool character. If they asked, I was honest. I treated Santa the same way I treat Mickey Mouse. Nobody tells their children that Mickey Mouse is real. People don’t tell their kids that Cinderella really existed. We treat these story characters as story characters. I told them Santa was a pretend character just like the Power Rangers or Ninja Turtles.
I can tell you that my children didn’t miss out on Santa anymore than knowing that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs aren’t real ruins a visit to Disneyland. They went to all the parties. And just like they deal with Christians who believe that Jesus saved them or a Muslim that believes Mohammed is their prophet, they handled Santa as a belief that some people have and others don’t. They didn’t ruin the surprise for those that wanted it; but they didn’t pretend to be gaga for Santa Claus.
So why do people use a different standard for Santa than Mickey Mouse or Cinderella? This is a very important topic that exposes some of the deepest beliefs that limit many, many people’s lives. Let’s look more closely.
A couple of times, my dad wanted to dress up as Santa. Why, I don’t know. But I didn’t want to ruin his fun. So I let him. When the kids yelled, “That’s grandpa!” I let them expose his true identity. This created a good lesson. They learned that you could expose a trick without consequences. Grandpa didn’t cry, embarrass them, or punish them; in fact, they all laughed together. It was a fun game. And they still laugh at grandpa in that silly costume.
This is so important. One of the biggest problems I confront in mentoring people who want to let go of beliefs is that they often feel extremely guilty. They feel as if they are doing something terrible by exposing a belief as untrue. Generally, another person, who was an authority figure early in life, told them that the belief was true; now they feel that they are hurting the authority if they let go of the belief. Some people were given beliefs wrapped with fear; they experience terror at the thought of letting go.
Most of these people reached a point in their youth where religious stories or Santa or the Easter Bunny didn’t make sense anymore. They saw through the lie. But when they shared the insight with their parents or teachers, they were punished or told they were wrong. Many years later, they still feel intense fear when confronting someone who imposes beliefs upon them. They can’t express their truth in the world. They panic at an insight that has the potential to propel their life forward. They can’t discriminate because their mind goes into confusion at the thought of letting go.
Discrimination and judgment are very different. But religion often confuses the two causing people to fear that they are judging every time they discriminate between true and false.
Why do we tell children the truth about Santa around seven or eight years old? Well psychologists tell us that humans start to discriminate around seven. We expose the lie before it gets naturally exposed. Before seven, we’ll pretty much believe anything we are told.
My research has shown that the lies (or beliefs) that children receive before seven show up as true when they think of them even if they have seen proof that they are false. Like me seeing my mother with the loot in her hands, I still held fast to the belief that Santa brought the gifts. Often people never question those early beliefs again. Their conviction and need to hold on often shows up as a radical defensiveness and close-mindedness.
The Unified vs. the Dual Santa
Santa, much like God, can be seen in two different ways. On the one hand, he can be seen as a unified character representing the joy of giving. In addition, he is recognized as one who gives unconditionally. The few cookies and milk left by the child are optional. And that spirit of giving seems to make him pretty happy too since he laughs from the very depths of his belly. That is a cool character. But this Santa is like the sun or the creator God. He rises and shines with absolute predictability. He is perfect, and he doesn’t make for an interesting story.
So there is another view of Santa that is much like the punishing, angry God that is commonly portrayed in religion. Studies show that this God is losing power these days. Young adults don’t buy the old man in the sky crap anymore; likewise, Santa is finally being studied with a critical eye. This Santa is a great character with lots of drama; but he is a myth, an illusion. Everything in the world of duality is unreal. We create it with our minds; and destroy it when it has served its purpose. The world of duality is like a night dream. When you are in it, it seems very real. But when you wake up, it is gone.
This dual Santa brings coal to the bad kids. The false God and Santa are both watching and listening to us all the time just waiting for us to mess up. They are the judges and the punishers. This false God and Santa serve the same purpose, which is control. A person feels small relative to an omnipresent God that sees all, and they obey whoever gives them the rules. The false God, much like Santa, in ancient times could get his minions of elves (I mean slaves) to do all the hard work while working only one day a year and taking all the credit. Leaders have taken advantage of this belief in people and inserted their desires into the rules for good behavior. They claim to be the voice of God just like the Wizard of Oz. But they are creepy little men with agendas, who would have no power if they didn’t pretend to be holy voices of God.
Likewise, teachers and parents often insert their rules into the imaginary mind of Santa. The child sees his or her parent as an authority that surely knows Santa’s rules.
I remember a very painful Christmas when my ex-husband and I visited his family. Every time my children did anything that was not pleasing to their grandmother, they were reminded that Santa would bring them coal. Before that time, they never heard such words. My husband became mute. He could not defend them since his own baggage was now running on high speed. She used this on him as a child; and just as he could not stand up to her then, he could not stand up to her now.
By the time Christmas came, the children were terrified that they might have done something bad without knowing it. Suddenly, Santa became very real to them because their grandmother spoke with such conviction. Their father was not supporting them as his psychological age was now about four. Even when I would assure them that grandma’s version of Santa was just a story, they would look at me like I was only saying it to make them feel better. She had conviction and emotion in her voice; I didn’t. Truth never comes with emotion; but children don’t know that (actually neither do many adults).
Which adult do you trust when two or more adults speak completely opposite realities? This is something therapists often label the double bind. It is the equivalent of a person signaling you to stop with one hand and telling you to come forward with the other. Which hand do you obey? You are wrong either way.
In truth, their grandmother was imposing her desires on Santa. She was making up the rules that she wanted obeyed, most of which were so that she could maintain her happy and unflustered state of mind while lots of children were visiting. Then she took her rules and said they were Santa’s rules.
I was not kind to her that Christmas; I found it appalling that a person who considered herself religious could lie so easily and selfishly. But you see, she could do it because she was religious. She was doing to the children what her priests and religious leaders had done to her. This sadly, is one of the rules of the false world. We do to others what was done to us unless we discriminate and let go of the beliefs we were taught.
You see, she lied to the children without any consideration that her behavior was unacceptable. Gee where have I seen this before? In fact, reverse a few letters of Santa and you get Satan, another character that punishes us without reason. Santa, Satan, and the false punishing God were all inventions of the power-hungry leaders and elite who want control in the ancient world. They created the punishing God for the purpose of creating slaves. Later, Satan entered the scene to reinforce their purpose. And as people started to catch on during the age of reason, Santa was born. It has been a plan that worked very well; and sadly, it still works today thousands of years later. (For more information on this see my post from last year: http://gatewaytogold.com/santa-or-satan/.)
This concept of Santa strengthens the gap between the rich and poor. It is like giving the rich a booster shot each December. The rich get big presents and think, “I must be good;” the poor wonder what they did wrong. A child can’t reason through that dilemma. And a child that decides he is bad at a young age will find it hard to see himself as good later on. Often people tell me that when they first discover that they are sick or a problem enters their life, the first words they hear in their mind are: “I wonder what I did wrong?” Guess who planted those words?
So why can people lie about Santa with such ease? They can do it because Santa is just an extension of the psychic, supernatural, punishing God. When we don’t question the validity of the false teaching that God is pissed off at us, we also don’t question the story of Santa. They are the same story with different characters.
Freedom means looking deep within our mind, getting honest, discriminating, and cleaning up the debris from the past in ourselves. We accepted their beliefs; now we can let them go. It is easy once we realize the beliefs are simply not true. When we do that, we cannot lie to another. It just feels too bad.
This is what I confronted when my children were little. A part of me remembered my upbringing; another part of me looked at what others were doing. But fortunately, the part of my mind that I followed, at least in this instance, was my emotional intelligence. It just didn’t feel good to lie to my children. Lacking in confidence about what to do, I adopted the neutral approach of just leaving Santa be a story character.
A Possible Solution
The bottom line is that people enjoy Christmas for many reasons. Some recognize that without a planned holiday, they would not take time off. They would not hang out with their family or buy them gifts. They would not give to others or have a party. Some like to honor the holidays for spiritual reasons. I don’t see anything wrong with that. I, myself, love pretty lights; and I love to give gifts.
I remember going to a children’s Christmas party one year. My oldest son was about three or four. They were taking pictures of the children with Santa. I asked my son to sit on his lap for a photo; and like the child in the photo above, he cried. I asked him why he cried. He said that Santa had bad breath, and he didn’t feel right. I told him that was good that he noticed that he didn’t feel right. And he didn’t have to be around people who do not feel good. Santa was valuable, but not as a photo opp. Santa was valuable as a tool for teaching my son a wonderful life lesson. If someone doesn’t feel good, just go the other way. You don’t belong with them.
The biggest gift that we can give to our children is the power of discrimination. That is what keeps them safe in the world. It is what allows them to know the difference between true and false. The best thing that we can do for our relationship with our children is to let them know that we will never, ever lie to them. By next year or next week, this year’s presents under the tree will be forgotten. But truthfulness and discrimination are gifts that will continue to give value until they leave this planet.
Everything in life has value when we use it in the spirit of truth. Myths are valuable as well as truth. We can use them to communicate and to teach. But we must call a myth a myth and the truth the truth. We don’t have to be the anti-Claus to make things right. The reason that we like Santa is because he makes life more fun. It feels right to think about getting what we want in life when our heart is pure. It feels good to give unconditionally. We can teach our children how to have that for one day a year if they are good and obey the rules. We can teach them to be Santa pleasers never living for themselves or following their hearts. Or, we can teach them how to discriminate so they can have a joyous, ho ho ho life, every day forever more.
It is my desire that people remember that they deserve a great life. The spirit that the unified unconditionally loving and giving Santa represents is true. I would go so far as to say that this spirit is the source of our deepest heart’s desires — the desires that just won’t go away. And that Santa, when he sees you mess up just looks the other way. He doesn’t have to punish you; you punish yourself. He knows that you’ll be back. He knows that one day you will see through the lies that others have sold you, and you will remember that all the pain, suffering, and lies can be let go as soon as you remember they are just not true.