December 25, 2012

Thank you, Dante Chinni, for validating my beliefs about Santa Claus [“Instead of leaving cookies, let’s give Santa the boot,” Outlook, Dec. 23]. I raised four children, all adults now, without foisting on them a belief in Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, Madame Befana or the Tooth Fairy. They are all well-adjusted and leading productive lives; they don’t feel deprived.

It was my parents, poorly educated immigrants from Italy, who taught me as a child that if we believed Santa rewarded the good children, what would children who didn’t receive much think? Would they think they weren’t as good as the children who got a bicycle?

Perpetuating the lie is unnecessarily cruel. My father told us that he and my mother were Santa Claus, and if they could afford gifts that year we would get them, and we did. They were not much, but enough: a doll, a ball, comics, blocks, a much-prized candy cane.

But the best gift they gave us was the truth and reasonable explanations that we appreciated.

Rosalie DiNicola Sanchez, Rockville

Here’s another way to approach the Santa myth. Each year, at the beginning of the season, my mom explained that people like to play pretend about Santa and that our family would play along. If we had any serious questions about it, we could always come to her privately for a straight answer.

This did not diminish any of the magic of the season; we still happily visited Santa, left cookies and received presents from St. Nick. In fact the fun was heightened because we kids could also create surprises for our parents in Santa’s name (giving instead of just receiving). Santa became a fun family experience, rather than a Grinch-y debunking at age 8.

The same policy went for the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny and any other characters our family wished to invent. My sister and I have continued this tradition with our own children, now teens and young adults. As my 16-year-old daughter now says, “You always told me the truth. That’s a pretty nice Christmas gift.”

Kristine Luoma-Overstreet, Arlington

I see nowhere in Dante Chinni’s commentary any mention of the real meaning of Christmas: the birth of Christ. What better way than Santa to convey to a child the all-loving nature of Christ? We should strive every day of the year to be nice, but Santa loves you whether you are naughty or nice. Belief in Christ is a leap of faith, as is belief in Santa.

Mr. Chinni is missing the real meaning and magic of Christmas. And by the way, I still believe in Santa.

Tricia Smith, Fairfax Station

I have to agree with Dante Chinni about giving Santa the boot. Leading children to believe in something so plainly inconsistent with the reality we otherwise teach them is contradictory and sends them a possibly confusing message.

Here’s an interesting thought experiment: Try reading Mr. Chinni’s essay with the word “God” substituted wherever “Santa” appears. I found the same reasoning just as compelling.

Paul Mondor, Washington