Reconsidering the great Christmas lie

(Spoiler alert!)

When my sisters and brother visited us from their East Coast enclave a month or so ago, we gathered on the deck to watch the last inning of the game between their beloved Red Sox and the Blue Jays. A Red Sox win guaranteed them home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs against my favorite team.

We watched on the MLB.TV app, whose video is usually about 15 seconds behind the MLB Game Day app.

As the Red Sox were down to the last strike (at least on our video feed), the anticipation rose.

“He grounded out,” my oldest sister said, putting down her Game Day app and spoiling the moment.

We all groaned because we’d seen this act before. She’s the one who took delight in telling all of us there’s no Santa Claus, no Tooth Fairy, and no Easter Bunny.

The point? Don’t think that you don’t remember and carry the pain of the betrayal well into your senior years.

Now there’s some contention from the experts that we may be harmed by the great lie of the season.

“All children will eventually find out they’ve been consistently lied to for years, and this might make them wonder what other lies they’ve been told,” some researchers write in a British medical journal, the CBC reports today.

Their essay — A Wonderful Lie — is behind a firewall but the CBC assures us it’s mostly tongue in cheek, although with an element of truth inspired by the trauma of Christmas.

“If you think they’re going to have a hard time with it, then perhaps it’s better to perpetuate the myth and tell them at a time when you think that they’re ready,” one medical expert, not affiliated with the research, says. “Whereas in other situations, you can ask them what they think and have an open discussion.”

Or you can treat it like the “big talk” about sex. Just ignore the question and wait for them to figure it out. It’s not like they’re going to come home one day and reveal that they’re going to have a reindeer in nine months.

“The morality of making children believe in such myths has to be questioned,” psychologist Christopher Boyle, one of the essay’s authors, writes.

“All children will eventually find out they’ve been consistently lied to for years, and this might make them wonder what other lies they’ve been told.”

“Whether it’s right to make children believe in Father Christmas is an interesting question, and it’s also interesting to ask whether lying in this way will affect children in ways that have not been considered.”

The thing is: They don’t actually answer the question.

“Children must all find out eventually that their parents have blatantly and consistently carried on a lie for a number of years. Children may find out from a third party, or through their parents getting bored of the make-believe and making a mistake; both might affect the trust that exists between child and parent.

“If adults have been lying about Santa, even though it has usually been well intentioned, what else is a lie? If Santa isn’t real, are fairies real? Is magic? Is God?”

“Many people may yearn for a time when imagination was accepted and encouraged, which may not be the case in adult life. Might it be the case that the harshness of real life requires the creation of something better, something to believe in, something to hope for in the future or to return to a long-lost childhood a long time ago in a galaxy far far away?”