When you think about it, it seems absurd that even small children should believe in Santa Claus.
Take the sleigh. All children know that, if you have to go on a long trip, you take the car or the SUV or a bus or a mini-van. And children in countries which don’t have snow, which is to say most countries in the world, have never even seen a sleigh. Except maybe in the mall. And most children in most countries have never been to a mall.
Yet even the minority of children who live in countries where it snows, and who go to malls, and where the malls have sleighs — even those children know that reindeer don’t usually pull sleighs. More pertinently, they know that reindeer can’t fly. In fact, many small children know that human beings can only fly on an aeroplane. Even children who have never been on a plane know this from reading books and watching movies. So to believe that there are reindeer which can fly pulling a sleigh in the air would be as silly to believe that you can get from one country to another by walking on the water.
Then there’s Santa Claus himself. Children only believe he’s real because there’s a whole industry devoted to promoting this image of a fat man in a red suit. Children are even told that Santa Claus is based on a real person named Saint Nicholas but, since children have this habit of asking interminable questions, it’s strange that they believe this.
Of course, being children, they won’t ask how can anyone believe in a person for whom no historical documents exist, and for whom the documents which do reference him were written hundreds of years after he supposedly lived and even those documents are copies of copies of copies of the original documents? Children, obviously, won’t ask that. However, if Santa is a real person who existed several hundred years ago, children might wonder how come he’s still alive. After all, even small children know that people die and, once that happens, the people don’t continue talking and laughing, let alone giving out presents. So to believe that Santa is still around after hundreds of years would be as ridiculous as a child believing that their dead pet fish would start swimming again if fed.
And that brings me to another reason which make it astonishing that small children believe in Santa. Stories and movies tell them that Santa has a workshop where he and his elves make toys for Christmas Day. But, while watching those same movies, children also see advertisements for toys which come from Mattel and Hasbro, which are companies that make toys which the children ask their parents to buy from them. So children should know that writing a letter to Santa asking for presents would be as absurd as asking someone whom you’ve never heard or seen or touched to give you something really valuable.
There’s also the chimney problem. Santa is always portrayed as fat, yet he comes down the chimney to deliver his presents. But even small children who don’t live in houses with chimney have experience fitting objects into shapes by playing with the kind of educational toys that Santa’s elves don’t make. So to believe that an overweight Santa could fit into such a narrow tube would be as preposterous as believing that someone could walk out of a cave which had been blocked by a boulder.
A similar problem exists in respect to Santa’s bag of toys. Children are always being told to put their toys away, so they are experts at fitting toys into containers. Thus, only the untidiest children should believe that Santa can hold toys for millions of children in one bag which is carried on one sleigh. To believe that would be as ludicrous as believing that you could feed thousands of people with two hops bread and five smoke herring.
And then there’s the time problem. Children who believe in Santa know that he has to deliver all these presents in one night — in fact, in the eight hours when children have gone to bed and before they wake up. But children know that mummy and daddy take the entire day to drop presents by other people, and they have a car and only have to go a few places. So to believe that Santa can deliver all those presents to all those children in just one night would be as nonsensical as believing that water can turn into ponche de crème.
However, children do grow up and stop believing in Santa Claus. Which is as it should be because, if an adult continued to believe in a man with magical powers who rewards you if you’re good, that would be a clear sign of an arrested development.