Jump to content
Join the Unexplained Mysteries community today! It's free and setting up an account only takes a moment.
- Sign In or Create Account -
Still Waters

Why children really believe in Santa

38 posts in this topic

Recommended Posts

eight bits

Seriously? I have a speculative suspicion: that adults occasionally seek the comfort of acting out make-believe, Christmas is an occasion, and the little ones will go along. I don't mean that as a criticism of adults, either. It's a tough world out there; it's wise to take what comfort is available.

I had an epiphany about this years ago. I was watching a news interview with the human half of a canine disaster rescue and recovery team (yeah, anything about dogs, and you have my undivided attention). Thet team had just returned home after weeks of work among the collapsed buildings of an earthquake calamity. The human told the interviewer a story.

At first, there are rescues, living people located by the dogs and freed from the wreckage by the human team members. The heart soars. But sometimes, what the dogs locate is a corpse. The removal is humane and necessary, but not joyous. As time passes, the proportion of recovered corpses to rescued living people grows, until too much time has passed. The job is not over, but there will be no more rescues, only recoveries.

So, when that time comes, the humans arrange a make-believe. They get some worker from another team to burrow  into the wreckage and pretend to be a victim. The team "searches," the dogs "discover" the faux-victim and the people dig the person out, just like in real life rescues. Then there is a celebration for the life "saved," humans and dogs celebrating together.

The person telling about all of this said that the humans perform this ritual for the benefit of the dogs. Otherwise, the dogs would get depressed, finding only corpses day after day. And the dogs really do join in the faux-celebration, and draw strength from it.

But a moments' thought shows that the ritual cannot be exclusively for the benefit of the dogs. The dogs can surely tell the difference between somebody who's been trapped for days and somebody who's just recently been "buried" and emerges from the rubble without a scratch. That ability is why the dogs are there in the first place. And the human who was telling the story knows that as well as anybody, however sincere he was in "explaining" the ostensible purpose of the ritual, for the dogs' sake..

But the dogs go along with it. I think that's because they know the wisdom of shared ritual, and the role of this one in maintaining the mental health of the whole pack, both dogs and people.

I think the Santa ritual is parallel, except that very young children don't yet have the equipment that the dogs have, an independent capacity for knowing the truth of the matter, for knowing that the ritual is make-believe without being told.

That does matter, because it crosses the line between make-believe and deception, something impossible in the case of the rescue dogs.

I don't have children, so I can't say for sure how I would proceed. My best guess is that I would do as the dogs do, and embrace the ritual. I think I would at least tell the children from the get go, "let's pretend." Not that the very youngest would understand the difference at the time, but to stay on the good side of that line between make-believe and deception. I think.

 

Edited by eight bits
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
 
Habitat
5 minutes ago, eight bits said:

Seriously? I have a speculative suspicion: that adults occasionally seek the comfort of acting out make-believe, Christmas is an occasion, and the little ones will go along. I don't mean that as a criticism of adults, either. It's a tough world out there; it's wise to take what comfort is available.

I had an epiphany about this years ago. I was watching a news interview with the human half of a canine disaster rescue and recovery team (yeah, anything about dogs, and you have my undivided attention). Thet team had just returned home after weeks of work among the collapsed buildings of an earthquake calamity. The human told the interviewer a story.

At first, there are rescues, living people located by the dogs and freed from the wreckage by the human team members. The heart soars. But sometimes, what the dogs locate is a corpse. The removal is humane and necessary, but not joyous. As time passes, the proportion of recovered corpses to rescued living people grows, until too much time has passed. The job is not over, but there will be no more rescues, only recoveries.

So, when that time comes, the humans arrange a make-believe. They get some worker from another team to burrow  into the wreckage and pretend to be a victim. The team "searches," the dogs "discover" the faux-victim and the people dig the person out, just like in real life rescues. Then there is a celebration for the life "saved," humans and dogs celebrating together.

The person telling about all of this said that the humans perform this ritual for the benefit of the dogs. Otherwise, the dogs would get depressed, finding only corpses day after day. And the dogs really do join in the faux-celebration, and draw strength from it.

But a moments' thought shows that the ritual cannot be exclusively for the benefit of the dogs. The dogs can surely tell the difference between somebody who's been trapped for days and somebody who's just recently been "buried" and emerges from the rubble without a scratch. That ability is why the dogs are there in the first place. And the human who was telling the story knows that as well as anybody, however sincere he was in "explaining" the ostensible purpose of the ritual, for the dogs' sake..

But the dogs go along with it. I think that's because they know the wisdom of shared ritual, and the role of this one in maintaining the mental health of the whole pack, both dogs and people.

I think the Santa ritual is parallel, except that very young children don't yet have the equipment that the dogs have, an independent capacity for knowing the truth of the matter, for knowing that the ritual is make-believe without being told.

That does matter, because it crosses the line between make-believe and deception, something impossible in the case of the rescue dogs.

I don't have children, so I can't say for sure how I would proceed. My best guess is that I would do as the dogs do, and embrace the ritual. I think I would at least tell the children from the get go, "let's pretend." Not that the very youngest would understand the difference at the time, but to stay on the good side of that line between make-believe and deception. I think.

 

You mean those dogs don't get some kind of reward for finding buried people, every time they succeed ? Here I was thinking they would quit otherwise.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
eight bits
27 minutes ago, Habitat said:

You mean those dogs don't get some kind of reward for finding buried people, every time they succeed ? Here I was thinking they would quit otherwise.

No, I am morally certain that the dogs derive satisfaction from their work, and from their membership in a two-species team.

I also think the interviewee is half-right. I wouldn't be surprised if the ritual originated when some human rescuer noticed that the dogs were visibly less happy finding corpses than finding living people. But the rest of the story is that the human partners were feeling the same way, too. Maybe it was easier for people to acknowledge the dogs' discomfort than to admit their own negative feelings. Humans are like that sometimes.

In the US, we have a phrase burn out. I don't know whether that phrase is understood internationally, but the idea is not so much to quit as to be emotionally unable to continue, or to continue effectively. The rescuers' ritual, IMO, postpones or prevents "burn out," in both species. It also deepens bonding, which isn't such a terrible idea, either.

Up here in the Northern Hemisphere, where the Santa ritual originated, it's freakin' cold nowadays. The trees are bare, the wind cuts rather than just blows. As the show tune goes, we could use a little Christmas; and the Santa ritual delivers.

 

 

Edited by eight bits
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Habitat
15 minutes ago, eight bits said:

Up here in the Northern Hemisphere, where the Santa ritual originated, it's freakin' cold nowadays. The trees are bare, the wind cuts rather than just blows. As the show tune goes, we could use a little Christmas; and the Santa ritual delivers.

Sounds very attractive compared to the near 100 degrees farenheit here today ! I have "burn out" already after just five days of summer. There should only be two seasons, autumn and spring

  • Like 2
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
third_eye

It's true! The Crown has made it clear... 

Quote

 

[00.02:48]

~

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Golden Duck
28 minutes ago, eight bits said:

No, I am morally certain that the dogs derive satisfaction from their work, and from their membership in a two-species team.

I also think the interviewee is half-right. I wouldn't be surprised if the ritual originated when some human rescuer noticed that the dogs were visibly less happy finding corpses than finding living people. But the rest of the story is that the human partners were feeling the same way, too. Maybe it was easier for people to acknowledge the dogs' discomfort than to admit their own negative feelings. Humans are like that sometimes.

In the US, we have a phrase burn out. I don't know whether that phrase is understood internationally, but the idea is not so much to quit as to be emotionally unable to continue, or to continue effectively. The rescuers' ritual, IMO, postpones or prevents "burn out," in both species. It also deepens bonding, which isn't such a terrible idea, either.

Up here in the Northern Hemisphere, where the Santa ritual originated, it's freakin' cold nowadays. The trees are bare, the wind cuts rather than just blows. As the show tune goes, we could use a little Christmas; and the Santa ritual delivers.

 

 

If you take drug detector dog as an example, the question is what motivates a working dog?  There's two choices food or play - not drugs in anyway whatsoever. But what happens if the dog isn't hungry?  A good working dog is always up for play; and, when you see they find the package the dog and its handler engage in a vigorous game.

I could imagine every subsequent find that goes without reward of a game might undo the dog's training.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Habitat

Talking about dogs, and the weather, and particularly the heatwave conditions, it reminds me of an expression often used here, " enough to kill a brown dog".

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jypsijemini

Due to my family's religious convictions, I was told the truth about Santa right from the very beginning, and told the "truth" about Christmas. Therefore, Christmas was always about Jesus' birth and the "good news" story rather than the elderly man in red breaking into houses, watching children omnipotently for the rest of the year and his troop of flying magical reindeer. No skin off my nose, I don't wish one way or the other that it would have been any different. It just was.

But my dad used to have to go away for work every few months for a week at a time. He trained service dogs for the deaf and hearing impaired. It would take about a week to teach the recipient how their dog will help them, what he's trained to do and to settle the dog into his new home.

So each time my dad was scheduled to fly out, he'd tuck my brother and I into bed at night and one night it occurred to him that he should tell us a story. Rather than pulling out the Bible or a children's book, Dad just winged it. With this incredible concoction of truth and fantasy, he told us this story about a family beach trip he'd gone on as a child. He'd gone to investigate the beach on his own and came across this cave where he found a rugged old man in a large hat moving sand around in the depths of the cave. The man approached my dad and gave him the choice to go sailing with him and his crew.

What started off as this truthful story about a family holiday quickly became this personalised tale of his first time sailing the high seas with "Pirate Jake". And we loved it so much that we kept pushing that every time Dad was set to go away, he'd have to tell us another installation from these Pirate Jake stories. Which became a way to pass the time whenever there was a blackout. I doubt that he told us any more than a dozen stories over the course of my childhood but they were so spontaneous, detailed, exciting and animated that we were absolutely obsessed with them. And it was such a special, unique experience that we shared only with Dad.

He started to come up with ways to prove his story, like an old leather hat he'd worn in his youth and a replica old-timey pistol that he'd bought before we were born. We were only told the truth once we started telling the other kids at school, "My dad's secretly a pirate!"

But it didn't stop there. Despite knowing the truth, we requested more Pirate Jake stories well into our teenage years. It was a bonding experience. A family tradition. A parental ritual of storytelling. It was unlike anything else.

And I think the tale of Christmas, in its purest and most innocent form, is a very similar way for parents to use this annual story to bond with their children (so long as they're wrapped up in the belief). The Elf On The Shelf is another way for parents to really invest in creating experiences for their children to imagine and believe - and the time and effort put into some of these set-ups is extraordinary. The lengths that parents are willing to go to create an imaginary, defies-all-logic scenario for their children is nothing short of beautiful - and it's a part of typical childhood. I mean, look at Disney and the lasting effect those stories have on us today as adults. We know that Toy Story is based on a fictitious idea that toys could come alive when they're not being observed. We know that animals don't talk. We know that pumpkins don't turn into carriages. But we're still obsessed with them and emotionally connected with them. Christmas stories are no different.

I'd say the only 'issue' I have with Christmas is the way parents will manipulate their children's behaviour by lying to them. "Santa won't come if you're naughty" etc. But at the same time, this is present in many stories and in many cultures. It goes beyond dressing up a tale in order to teach children morality or good behaviour. It's giving them the idea that if they don't comply with demands and expectations, they won't receive the material goods they desire. That's not the way the world works. Sometimes even the most disgusting, horrible people get everything they want just because they inherit it or they work hard enough for it - regardless of their behaviour or attitude. These Christmastime threats are just a way for parents to scare their children into acting better. Similarly, "if you don't stay in bed and go to sleep, the boogeyman will get you". "Don't sit too close to the TV or your eyes will turn square". Again, these blatant deceptive threats are damaging to children and their mental/intellectual development. But - one could present the argument that magical, fantasy stories of princesses and magic and witches etc. are just as harmful. So I'm really on the fence and unsure where I stand with all of it.

I just think that some parents are really lazy and incompetent in their disciplinary tactics and too easily turn to manipulation and deception in order to control and manage their children's behaviour. No one knows how to parent the 'right' way because every child is different and each of us have different capabilities and varied understandings. Most of us just want to do better than we believe our parents knew how to. We try to do the best we can with what we know at the time. Sometimes outright, blatant deceptive statements are actually completely innocent and in a way, a show of love, affection and they promote bonding and quality time with your kids. And sometimes it gets misused and takes on a form of punishment and manipulation.

I think too, many families can't lavish their children with expensive Christmas presents. The belief that gifts come from Santa needs to be limited if the general population is going to continue with it. Tell your kids that one or two of the gifts are from Santa, and not the most expensive ones. Imagine how the other children are going to feel when they compare gifts with their friends. Santa got you the newest game console, but he only got me a t-shirt and a colouring book. "What then did I do wrong for Santa to give you something better than what I got?" Children also need to understand and appreciate the effort and expense that goes into Christmas so that they don't grow up to be entitled, demanding little s***heads. If you can afford to go nuts at Christmas, good for you. But your child deserves to know that you worked hard to be able to afford to drown them with gifts. That it came from YOU, not Santa. And likewise, if your budget is limited and you can't fulfil all the wishes on their Christmas lists, they still ought to know that you did the best you could to make their Christmas special - but that some families just can't afford to spend that much every year, and for some families, for so many children.

Sorry. Rant over.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
joc

When my daughter was 6, we planned to spend Christmas with my sister in south Florida.  My daughter meticulously made out her list for Santa...but then became very concerned that he wouldn't find her in Florida.  We assured her he would.  I was also very meticulous in filling the List.  Then I boxed it all up and sent it to my sister's house.

Christmas morning she was overwhelmed and I'll never forget her saying...Now I KNOW Santa is real!   Nah, we never told her any different...we knew she'd figure it out on her own.

But...she was raised in the Baptist Church and is today very religious and believes deeply in Christianity.  As does my wife.  There is a parallel between the two.  Why did she believe Santa was real?  Because she recognized a ...miracle... everything on her list, magically appearing under my sister's tree.  Why does she believe fervently in Christianity?  Because she recognized a ...miracle...of change in her heart when she accepted Christ.  

So why did she drop the belief in Santa but continue to believe in Jesus?  It is common knowledge, the truth of Santa, to all but the very young.  But Christianity is recognized as Truth...and so ...it's True.  ...at least in the mind and heart of the believer.   And it is recognized as 'true' because of a 'feeling'.

Belief in Santa is a phase of adolescence.  Belief in Jesus is a change in thinking, based on a 'feeling' of acceptance by Jesus as one's personal savior.  I've experienced it.  Millions have experienced it.  But thanks to @Davros of Skaro and others...and thanks to my own research on drug related 'feelings', hallucinations, etc., I know that all of these feelings are actually caused by Dopamine and other chemicals released in the brain.  Like the old song:  ...hooked on a feeling.   Santa is something we can reason away.  It is hard to disassociate the feelings of being 'saved'.  Powerful drugs are at work.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
TigerBright19

Ever been to a Santa Grotto like this one.....:lol:

 

 

 

Edited by Aaron2016
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
QuickQuickSlow
On 12/5/2019 at 12:26 AM, third_eye said:

Merry Christmas and a happy new year, happy holidays.. 

[00.03:12]

~

Poor lil ' Michael never got over it I guess... 

~

 

  • Haha 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Kittens Are Jerks

jkCJxl2.jpg?1

  • Haha 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
 
QuickQuickSlow
On 12/6/2019 at 12:44 PM, Aaron2016 said:

Ever been to a Santa Grotto like this one.....:lol:

 

 

 

Good Ol' Alf. Strange that they never repeat his shows on TV these days

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.