The Santa subterfuge: the greatest conspiracy of all

by Kris Masgai

We were both stood on his desk Blu-tacking paper chains to the air conditioning ducts when he said it: “We’re not going to tell Ben there’s a Father Christmas”.

He and his wife have talked it over. They both believe that it is wrong to lie, wrong to mislead your children, wrong to say “do as I say, not as I do”. And the upshot is that Father Christmas will be sacrificed to integrity. “How”, he reasoned, “can we expect him to learn right from wrong if we don’t tell him the truth”?

Ben is not quite a year old, so he won’t be asking Father Christmas questions this year. But as soon as he does, his parents say they will “not confirm the existence of Santa Claus”.

There was uproar in the office.

Ours is a big team in a big open plan space. We like a good argument. Ideally one that lasts for the best part of a day, fanned by new people arriving and lobbed-in, googled “facts”. Everyone has an opinion. But, for the first time in living memory, we were all – but one – unanimous.

A mum, with a five and three-year-old, was practical. “How”, she cross-examined, “did he intend to have any control over his son without resorting to the threat of Father Christmas not coming”?

A father, a Sikh, was sceptical. His children happily fit in Diwali and Father Christmas (and probably Eid and Rosh Hashanah too) like many children today. It is a collective thing he pronounced. They all believe in him. “You can’t even get down the street without someone asking them, ‘What’s Father Christmas bringing you?'” They just will not believe you. All the evidence comes down on Santa’s side.

A colleague tells us how he found out, age six, that there was no Father Christmas. He is Jewish. And Father Christmas had, religiously, visited for six Christmases. He was riding his new bike brought courtesy of the man himself. His worldly eight-year-old neighbour held him down. “There is no such thing as Father Christmas. It’s your Dad. Pretending”.

A crowd gathers around his desk where the paper chain had been abandoned. The other side of the office heard. The IT person joined in. A manager appeared from her office. “What’s going on”? “He’s going to say there’s no Father Christmas”. Heads were shaken and tuts were tutted. Those there from the start began to retire to their desks to regroup, google and text friends.

The denier and destroyer of childhood dreams remains calm. He tries to take the comments one by one. It was the knowing that his parents had lied to him that hurt. Still hurts it seems. He thought less of them. He never really believed them again, never really trusted or respected them. It is clearly a big thing. He is nearly 40. Nobody else can remember this lack of trust, just the memory of it being a magical game, on a fantastically large scale, that sadly came to an end.

The admin manager, with three sons now in their twenties, considers it cruel. “How could you take away one of the most enchanting things about being a child”? She points out that Father Christmas does not just bring presents. He knows whether you have been good or bad, what you want for Christmas and visits every house in one night. She recalls the rituals, the letters to Santa, the leaving out of mince pies and the ringing of sleigh bells. “They grow up so quickly”, she wistfully adds, “don’t rob him of this. You’ll regret it and he’ll regret it”. She finishes by betting him that when it comes to it he will not have the heart to do it.

She is not normally this eloquent. She normally demands receipts and monthly reports.

Another takes the baton. He believes that it is a collective collusion in which children actively conspire. That even when they start questioning the logistics of visiting every house, the sheer number of Father Christmases they have seen and finding presents hidden in the wardrobe, they just adjust the story to fit the new facts. “It’s not worth the risk because if you don’t believe you might break the spell”.

Our office temp seems more concerned about the fate of the tooth fairy. The villain of the piece confirms that the tooth fairy is out too. She tells us how she and her mum would hang the tooth on a thread from a branch in the front garden. And how in the morning there was a 50 pence piece hanging where the tooth had been. “Well it wouldn’t have been still been there where we lived” retorts the santa-slayer.

He struggles on. And to be honest we understand his point. It is rational, logical and well-reasoned. But this is not about reason. It is about the best conspiracy of all. Merry Christmas.

Kris Masgai is a leading manufacturer, logistics consultant and a man of letters.

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One Response to “The Santa subterfuge: the greatest conspiracy of all”

  1. Cybersavvy says:

    Adults keep the same secret with the Stig. It’s a human thing – we all need a little mystery and magic in our lives, which the daily grind denies us.

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