It’s wrong to lie to your kids, right? Otherwise they might grow up to, what, distrust you? Distrust any adult? Distrust anyone? Lie? Yeah? Yeah. Except, it seems, at Xmas, for Xmas is that happy happy time of year when millions of parents around the world (I couldn’t possibly understand, I’m not a parent, etc.) deem it not only right to lie, but downright obligatory to do so.

I tried to raise this in a conversation last Xmas with a group of REALLY STUPID (I can happily say this knowing they aren’t on my friends list, for obvious reasons) Australians in Rwanda. I think it was Xmas day. I like conversations, and this being an idea that had recently occured to me (I’m quite slow myself) I decided to, you know, raise it. In one.

And OH MY GOSH was I shot down? The looks of disbelief on their collective (and collectively) smug antipodean features was a sight to behold (and enjoy, retrospectively, a bit). Immediately accusations of child-cruelty, taking away the ‘magic’ of Xmas, and other equally brain-dead toss were tossed my way. I didn’t bother going on with what I thought was a thought-provoking, if a little provokative, point. I got another beer. I got escorted home by the Rwandan army at 2am. But I digress.

Why do it? Why lie? Your child will find out, usually at the age of 4 or 5. And they will be upset. And they will be upset with you. You don’t tell them Harry Potter is real, do you? Or Dora the Explorer?

I think I know why you think you do it. I think you think you do it to see the looks on their faces on Xmas morning, or maybe so that they can share in the magic and mystery with their friends. You think you do it because it’s what happened when you were a kid, and you liked believing in Father Christmas (as far as you can remember, which, trust me, you can’t).

But Xmas doesn’t require a magical sky fairy any more than the universe does to make it wonderful and mystical and joyous. Millions of children from other religions across the globe get by just dandy thank you without the jolly red giant. I’m 33 years old and cynical about most things, but I still believe in the magic of Xmas. I still put out the whiskey and the mince pie and the carrot. I still decorate the tree. I’m watching Santa Claus: The Movie RIGHT NOW.

No, I think the reason you do it is because it’s just easier to lie. Easier, yes. But unnecessary.

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