This bleating about what a lie Santa Claus is reminds me of those Bible-beaters who make sure their children know Santa is a fraud, lest believing in him corrupt the little ones’ understanding of the true meaning of Christmas. Odd how Objectivism drives some to mimic the dreariest behavior of humorless religious fanatics.
Moreover, I think this shows the deficiency of the Objectivist account of childhood. Children are not adults in miniature. They should not be denied their childhood. They’ll get to the adult world soon enough with all its rewards and responsibilities. Meanwhile, let them have fantasies that only in the innocence of childhood can be fully enjoyed. Better to believe in Santa at eight than to think you’re some magic elf in a Dungeons & Dragons game at twenty-eight.
Also, children are not retarded adults. They do not need to be lead by an adult to the truth each and every time. They can, and should be permitted to, find out about things on their own. Similar to the experiences related by Regi and Mr. Stolyarov, I figured out by myself that Santa was not real – and I was quite proud of myself for sorting that out on my own. I was also proud of the adult responsibility I assumed to not spoil the secret of Santa for my younger brother and sister.
To disabuse a child of a belief in Santa Claus strikes me as overly controlling. Only an ideologue could want to keep a child’s mind swept so cleanly of “lies”. There is also something disturbingly Manichaean about reducing everything that is not literally true to a lie. It is certainly a simplification of the real world that a child can more readily grasp, but how does it prepare him to deal with the complexity that actually exists around him? The principle behind identifying Santa Claus as a lie makes the mind too brittle. There is the danger that the mind trained upon that principle cannot absorb apparent contradictions in observation before resolving the unifying truth behind them. Thus a Manichaean mind rationalizes or blanks out to evade that which cannot be neatly categorized as either truth or lie.
Besides, what better way to get the little bastards to settle down when the snow starts flying than to threaten you’ll drop the dime on them with Santa? ;)