Becoming Santa Claus

Santa is coming tonight!

I have two sons. One is 13, the other 10. I'm pretty confident that the thirteen year old knows the deal about Santa. The ten year old is on the edge, but he still believes in Santa. But I think this may be the last year of believing in Santa in the Beck household.

Is Santa Claus real? Last year I wrote a post about this question, comparing verificationist and pragmatic epistemologies on the question of Santa Claus. Being a student of William James I concluded that Santa was real:

"Belief" in Santa Claus is going to look different for my two boys. For the youngest the belief is going to take an ontological turn. That Santa exists. For my oldest the "belief" is starting to look like pretending, being in on the joke so to speak. But my ultimate hope is that this sense of pretending changes into one of participation and praxis. Santa isn't about ontology. It's about giving gifts and not taking credit for them. Learning the joy of finding the perfect gift for a loved one and watching them open it. To see the joy and surprise and tears when they open it. It's about learning to become Santa.

Epistemologically, then, I think Santa Claus is real. But real in the pragmatic sense, as a practice, rather than as an ontological category. Santa as a way of giving rather than a jolly old elf. Santa is participation in the Spirit of Christmas.

So in that sense, Santa is very real indeed.
You can follow Santa's worldwide progress this evening at the Official NORAD Santa Tracking Site.

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2 thoughts on “Becoming Santa Claus”

  1. This is great! My oldest is 14 now, and she confesses that she caught on to the truth about Santa Claus pretty early on, but kept mum so he'd keep giving her presents ;-) Youngest is 10, and he figured out (and admitted to knowing) the myth of Santa also. Neither one appears psychologically damaged by our perpetuation of this big "lie". It's such a fun lie to believe! Ontology vs. participation/praxis gives me a lovely framework from which to explain how Santa can still be a healthy part of my kids' more mature understanding of Christmas and gift-giving. Thank you!

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