Santa has been the mascot of Christmas for the last couple centuries, and most people have no real issue with that, but should we? This is not about the “true” meaning of Christmas; I’ll leave that for the pastors on the next few Sundays. No, rather let’s talk about what the myth of Santa Claus does for the children and parents of the western world.

The legend of Santa starts off as a fun story that not-so-subtly compels children to behave, or they won’t get any presents for Christmas, but is it really for the best to essentially bribe your own children for good behavior? We know full and well children will misbehave regardless of the Christmas-time promise. Would it not be best to just teach kids to be a good person, and life will reward them? And if not life, then loved ones will recognize and appreciate good behavior.

One of the issues of Santa is how children can be lead to false expectations of where presents come from; it’s never been Santa. Therein lies to give credit where credit is due. Parents work to try and make their children’s dream Christmas a reality, only to have them thank a mythological being. Obviously, they still feel some joy just seeing their kids’ happiness, but I believe that the parent-child relationship could be healthier if the child knew that their parents did all that work for them out of love.

Oftentimes parents just cannot get what their kids have asked them for. Maybe money is just too tight, but with Santa in the picture, the children have no reason to account for any of those things on Christmas morning. This leaves children disappointed and can ruin Christmas for the entire family. Santa has been thought of one that can give endlessly. Wouldn’t it be more constructive for kids to know their parents are the gift-givers, and sometimes parents don’t have the funds for everything a kid wants. This lesson could teach early forms of humility, and simple gratitude for their parents’ efforts and the gifts they do receive.

Santa isn’t a bad man to believe in, but more recently, especially in a materialistic age that we live in now, should Santa be accredited for the new iPad under the tree, or the new clothes, new toy cars, new bike? If kids understood where the gifts really came from, a child-parent relationship could be strengthened in knowing the mutual benefit both parties receive when a child opens a gift, and that the countless dollars and hours the parents use to set up the dream is all worth it in the end for a happy family holiday.