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Does Santa Claus exist? The Coverciano teacher’s “scandalous” quiz and why she’s right

The story, in itself, is very tasty, as soon as it reaches the newspaper editorial offices: in short, I’ll tell it to you like this. Religion class in a primary school in Coverciano, province of Florence, in a fifth grade class. Before the Immaculate Conception we started talking about Advent, and this week the idea is to stimulate the kids – in 2023, fifth graders are 10 years old, in a month they will enroll in middle school and if you call them children eat you – with a little game. An easy quiz, which has nothing to do with the very complicated video games of which many already complete the levels at home. Question: Do you believe in Santa Claus? Answers: six yes, six no, two maybe.

AAA Spoiler alert: if you are in that half of the world where Santa Claus comes every year to eat our biscuit, drink the milk and give the carrot to the reindeer, do not continue.

A result that is not surprising: at that age many have already started to push their parents, others “pretend” to believe it for their parents’ sake or for fear that the gifts will not arrive if they question authority, still others have already seen on Netflix the 400 Christmas films in which American peers discuss the theme. In short: if you have met a ten-year-old who told you, confidently and confidently, that he believes in Santa Claus, without doubt, he is probably an artificial intelligence programmed to lie.

What happens, however, is that the focus is not on the result, but on the question. Once the students arrive home, this is the dramatic news of the newspaper The nation: «they told everything to their parents, who, amazed, found themselves having to answer questions like: “Why are you telling me that Santa Claus exists?”, “Why are you telling me lies?”. And after a consultation on the chats, the controversy quickly escalated. “We immediately reported the issue to the head teacher with a certified email – explains a parent -, and today I will go and talk to him». I imagine the parents’ chat, I frequent a couple of them: «how, how dare she?», and «For Christmas we were also giving her the mug on offer on Black Friday with photos of all our puppies!» until «My son is traumatized, he shouts that he hates me and doesn’t talk to me anymore. The certified email idea is good, tell me if you need help, I’m a lawyer.”

It matters little if the parents themselves report that the lesson “would then continue with an explanation on the spirit of Christmas, referring to the story of Saint Nicholas, considered a real figure who inspired the myth of Santa Claus”. Maybe someone didn’t understand the function of religion class: in the fourth grade, for example, we study the origin of the universe, and teachers have long told the story of the Bible, but they also mention the Big Bang, Indian myths, the cosmogonies of other peoples of the past, in short they tell how the man answered the fundamental question: why are we here? When telling about Christmas, a teacher can stick to explaining the story of Mary, Joseph and Jesus contained in the Gospel, but we can also talk about Christmas in other countries and stories about Christmas. In this sense I would like to highlight the beautiful book from the «Things explained well» series by the magazine the postwhich perhaps these parents should read, together with their children.

As always happens in these cases, as when the introduction of emotional education into those school cycles is discussed in Parliament, there is always a parliamentarian from the League who takes the stand and is indignant: «An at least inappropriate choice on the part of the teacher which certainly upset the very young students», said Elena Meini and Giovanni Galli, regional councilors of the League. And they shouted: «Long live Santa Claus!», specifying: «so much for the professor». Nice message, congratulations. Let’s help the school by continuing to go against the teachers. To whom we entrust our children every day, in the hope that they will make them become better people. But maybe not, I tell myself this every time I read the hashtags of mothers with big bellies on Instagram #don’tgrowtoofast even on their 18th birthday. Maybe we want our children – who have probably been surfing the Internet at home for a couple of years already, or if they don’t do it they are surrounded by people who do it, including parents addicted to the cell phone always in their hand – they remain children until adulthood.

I, who instead belong to the school of “make them independent from the age of three months to change their own diapers”, when the news arrived, I felt a sense of serenity. When I was pregnant with my first daughter, and we were talking about what we will say to her, how we will be as her parents, one of my strong points was Santa Claus. I fooled everyone with the story that I would never tell my children that Santa Claus exists, because I wouldn’t have wanted to deceive them, in fact, and I remembered when at six years old, with an eight-year-old brother in the house, I heard myself say: “Look, it’s mum and dad who buy the presents” and the atrocious scolding that my mother gave him . Boom. Like when you discover how children are made, discovering that Santa Claus is just a legend makes you have two reactions: the first of anger, for not having understood it earlier, the second of relief: of course, that’s how it works! It’s a huge growth step that places you on a different level than adults up to that point.

Well, what happened in reality: I became a mother. And so, faced with the beauty of Santa Claus’s tale, I too gave in, but with a plan. What he provided to all of us Robert Zemeckis with Polar Express: Santa Claus is the spirit of Christmas. If you believe in the spirit of Christmas, even magic comes true. That is, I moved the story of the father, with the details of the elves etc., onto a spiritual level, so that I can mention him as the parents’ helper in bringing the gifts: it is a team effort, in short, which celebrates the joy of our family, at the end of the year, a moment when we get together and give thanks for what we have. Not having even a Catholic moment to celebrate, we don’t go to mass, I had more leeway for action, I admit it. The question was asked to me: does Santa Claus exist? And my answer was: it’s like Jesus. You choose to believe it.

But beyond the individual choices of parents who decide or not to “let their children live in a fairy tale”, the history of Coverciano tells us various things: the first, that we parents are not able to manage our children’s emotions. Even in the worst case scenario, i.e. the “trauma” of a ten year old who discovers that Santa Claus is a mythological figure, perhaps we can talk to him about it, right? He is at an age, as we said above, where you can discuss practically anything, let alone if you can’t talk about Christmas. The second: that the solution is always found in looking for a scapegoat, the release, the release of responsibility, a certified e-mail and so on, the teacher must be called back. Third: at Christmas we are all better. Let’s have a laugh every now and then. Think of the lightness of life after the “big revelation”: stop interrupting films in which Santa Claus is questioned, stop leaving windows open at minus twenty degrees to justify Santa’s entry into the house, stop shaking hands with bearded men in the street tipsy people (we understand them) who pass themselves off as Finnish Santa Clauses…

Source: Vanity Fair

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