Who this Christmas started to question the concept of Santa?

An old man showing up out of nowhere (or at least in Scandinavia he does – show up in person, that is!), insisting children sit on his lap, obsessed with whether anybody has been ‘naughty’? Creepy, right?

In my family at least, the youngest generation shares my view. This is in contrast to Santa’s very successful visit to my sister’s house last year. That he bore a strange resemblance to my sister’s husband went unnoticed by my five-year-old niece and nephew. They could hardly contain themselves with joy when Santa arrived, my niece literally jumping up and down with excitement during the whole ten-minute visit.

This year, we wanted to prepare their younger brother for the fun of Christmas, so we showed the video of Santa’s visit to the toddler boy, and this is where things took an unexpected turn. He screamed with horror. And that did not change, no matter how many times my sister tried to tell him that Santa was good.

Hoping to rectify this, we brought him to an event that boasted a ‘visit from Santa’. The toddler started crying the minute he saw him – but just as my sister turned the stroller to take him home, he eyed Santa’s bags of sweets, and you could immediately see his dilemma: facing the biggest fear in his young life – but for sweets.

This, I would argue, would provide a good insight into who this young man is: is he a go-getter, brave enough to face his worst fears to go and get what he really wants? Or is he a healthy young man with boundaries, concluding that no temptations from the outside world are worth compromising on your inner voice, telling you to get the hell out of there? Of course, he could also just be a calculating, lazy kid, thinking ‘nahhh, if it’s too much of an effort, I’ll just wait – I’ll get sweet later at home anyway’.

It was actually pretty amazing to watch him in that moment. Shaking with fear, tears streaming down his cheeks, he went to Santa and got a bag of sweets. For all other kids, it is a sad day when they realise Santa is not real. For my nephew, it was a traumatic day when he realised that he is.


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