The Taste of Others, part 2: Down with Santa.

19 Nov

Reading online reviews from (mostly) anonymous reviewers is infuriating, addictive, and strangely satisfying. Like best-of lists, these reviews are often subjective screeds that cause a passing self-righteous anger that feels good[1]. Still, it’s another way to waste time on the Internet that isn’t really giving much in return[2]. It’s like bubble gum. Or pop rocks. A little tickle and then nothing but the void.

Anyway, here’s a second dose of reviews for The Polar Express. My comments are in boldface type.

This in some sense is the funniest review I’ve seen. The reviewer wants to “teach” how other parents convey values to their children. The emphasis on somehow not lying to the child about Santa, when the adult world lies consistently to children on a whole array of issues—such as lying, politics, history, the afterlife and so on—is a rich subject indeed. Stephen King has a whole diatribe about this, how parents who will let their children believe all manner of fantastical things in different religions will crack down on the harmless belief in Santa. Enjoy.

Title: OK, but a bad representation of “Faith”

It’s my observation that the underlying message of this book is to present the idea of faith to a child. Santa is a terrible example of Faith. Santa is NOT real, if the child takes this book to heart, this example will eventually let him/her down. If his/her faith is shattered here, where does it end? (I honestly don’t know. Hell?)


I STRONGLY disagree with the reviewer who said to use this book when your child questions Santa. To use this book to enforce the belief in Santa is to lie to your child. Children have “faith” in what their parents tell them. If you directly mislead them, how would you feel when you discovered the truth? It would hurt A LOT more than finding out Santa isn’t real! I’m not suggesting answering their query by revealing that he’s make believe, but maybe respond indirectly, possibly in the form of a question, leaving the final answer up to them. (Um, no. This isn’t how a child’s mind works at all. Children are sophisticated enough to know why lying about the existence of Santa is different than lying about other things. Most children want magic and wonder in their lives. Adults would do well by them to leave some mystery to things. We have our whole lives to be miserable cynics.)

[1] More about this in a later post.

[2] I would put upcoming movie previews and stupid/funny youtube clips in this category.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: