131. Making Believe

You may want to read this article yourself before you let your children see it. You may have been telling your children some things that aren’t true, and you may want to keep the myths going. I’ll try to cloak my references in verbiage. I, myself, have always tried to be honest with children, but I respect your right to hold on to the enchantment that usually comes with believing some stories.
But no, Virginia, it’s not true. The only miracle on 34th Street is the occasional available parking space. That money under your pillow was put there by a human being while you were asleep. And storks have nothing to do with the birth of human babies. I like making believe as much as the next guy – maybe more than some. Every year I read The House at Pooh Corner to children, there was a certain point where a few tears came to my eyes. Christopher Robin was trying to explain to his friends why he wouldn’t be with them as much any more. It’s not that he was dying; it’s that he was beginning to think stuffed animals aren’t alive. I think some of the myths we’ve handed on down to children have been fairly harmless. Though I’m Jewish and don’t celebrate Christmas, my wife did, and we did Santa Claus. At a certain point, one of the children asked me whether there really was a Santa Claus, and I was honest with her. When she asked why we pretended there was one, I answered, “Because it’s fun.” She was satisfied with that. I don’t think there are too many children who saw a price tag on one of the gifts “from Santa” and decided never to trust their parents again. As I was with many issues, I used to be more of a fanatic. I used to dwell on the importance of “truth,” and think nasty thoughts about parents who “lied” to their children. Now, don’t get me wrong; I haven’t come full circle. I still won’t tell children things I know aren’t true. When children ask me about the myths, I refer them to other authorities, explaining that my point of view is only my point of view. I don’t mention the night I stayed up to see my mother slip a quarter under my pillow. But I’m a teacher, and whenever I get a chance, I teach. Virginia, there are many very generous people in the world. But reindeer are not strong enough to pull that guy and enough presents for all the children of the world. And they can’t fly.

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