It's not an official list. And only one person votes on it (me). But after reading that Touré announced that he'd never expose his kids to the "Santa myth," the MSNBC co-host shot to the top of my list of Worst Dads Ever.
Said Tour(e with a squiggly line): "We put out the presents before bedtime on Christmas Eve. So, there was no myth that some stranger is going to come in through the door while you’re sleeping.”
Now, this bit actually makes me feel a bit sorry for Touré. His idea of Jolly Old St. Nick is as a home intruder? How sad!
However, that's where my pity for him ends. While he can't control the image of Santa his parents passed to him, he does have the chance to share the magic of Santa Claus with his own kids. But like a typical stubborn liberal, he's going to take an unwavering stand on a non-issue.
I'm Catholic and so of course we celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ, but we also enjoy the festive spirit of Santa. While I don't relish the idea that my parents fibbed about some flying reindeer and feasted on the cookies I'd leave out each Christmas Eve, I'm glad they did. Believing in Santa instilled a real excitement in me for the holiday season -- an excitement I still have as an adult, but would never have grasped as a small child.
It's this emotion that makes Christmas more enjoyable as an adult watching children tear open their presents on Christmas morning. Try explaining that sentiment to a child. There's a joy in giving, which it seems Touré has shared with his children, but it's the spirit of giving which comes from Christmas traditions like Santa Claus that give more meaning to the season.
Regardless of my personal beliefs about Santa's sheer awesomeness, there's also this:
Believing in Santa Claus can enhance creativity and imagination in children while also reminding kids -- and kids at heart -- about generosity and joy, researchers find.
"Our great tradition, Santa Claus, reminds us that Christmas is, in fact, a time of joy and plenitude just when the gray, oppressive skies of winter proclaim the opposite," Frank Riga, emeritus professor of English at Canisius College, said in a press release. "Santa Claus, finally, knows little or nothing of credit cards and shopping sprees, but he does know the pleasure in giving and the joy of others' joy." ...
"Magical thinking enables children to create fantastic imaginary worlds, and in this way enhances children's capacity to view the world and act upon it from multiple perspectives," Eugene Subbotsky, Claire Hysted and Nicola Jones from the university's Department of Psychology said in a press release. "The results suggested that books and videos about magic might serve to expand children's imagination and help them to think more creatively."
Magical thinking of the beneficial sort involves believing in non-violent supernatural events like animals speaking human languages, or a "good witch" flying on a broomstick. This involves the ability to construct an alternative world and research has shown that most 4 to 6 year olds think magically in everyday life.
Children with chronic illnesses also seem to respond positively to thinking about such figures, including Santa Claus. Many charitable groups, as a result, organize visits from "Santa" to brighten the days of these kids and to remind them that Santa Claus has not forgotten them.
Santa Claus is only the beginning of children's limitless imaginations and capacity for hope. After watching Cinderella, is Touré going to break it to his daughter that Prince Charming doesn't exist? That Beauty and the Beast isn't a love story, but a disturbing depiction of bestiality? That there's no such thing as "happily ever after"? C'mon.
Whether it's Santa, the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy, they're all good traditions to share with your child. One mom, confronting the suspicions of her own daughter, explained Santa's role in this way:
Santa is bigger than any person, and his work has gone on longer than any of us have lived. What he does is simple, but it is powerful. He teaches children how to have belief in something they can’t see or touch.
It’s a big job, and it’s an important one. Throughout your life, you will need this capacity to believe: in yourself, in your friends, in your talents and in your family. You’ll also need to believe in things you can’t measure or even hold in your hand. Here, I am talking about love, that great power that will light your life from the inside out, even during its darkest, coldest moments. ...
Santa is love and magic and hope and happiness.
And to deny his child such an experience because of his own righteous indignation lands Tour-ay a spot atop my naughty list.