It made me think about my kids when they were younger. I used to do it up, kids put out cookies and milk, a note to Santa and went to bed. I'd eat the cookies, drink the milk, leave them a thank you note from Santa.
My son, when he was in 4th grade, told me he doesn't believe in Santa. I was both proud and sad for him. I tried to hold up the pretense but he gave me an analytic breakdown of how Santa simply can't be real, how I was Santa, and what I had been doing to prolong that myth. I was surprised but also pleased and impressed with his critical thinking skills.
I didn't agree so much as point out the facts.
IF you "believe" in Santa, you get more gifts. If you don't, well....
He refused to buy any of it. Finally, I said "Well look, I choose to believe in Santa because I like the idea, it's fun, harmless, and in the end, I like receiving more gifts. But you're welcome to act as you see fit. HOWEVER, you DO NOT tell your little sister. Got it?"
As for his younger sister, she went through a period of going to church in her teens, one she chose. One that unnerved her mother but that I figured she would soon outgrow, was for purposes more of its social aspects and about something she wasn't getting at home (as we were then divorced) than any true belief in "God", and so she did and eventually came to realize religion is all exactly about what is is.
Then I tried to explain how it helps to build the idea of wonder in life, of magic in the world and I believe those who don't have that understanding of the concept of magic in the world as adults, simply lose out on much of what is wonderful in life. There IS magic in the world. It's just not, "magic",per se.
So he dropped it. But he made it clear from then on he really didn't believe in Santa and so we kind of worked it out in that way. He does have a strong fascination for magic now as an adult, however.
All this made me think about religion and the "God" concept, in general.
There may be some things that are positive about it existing, though it could also be handled in a more safe and sane way through other means. But belief in "God" should also end at some point, just as Santa is useful for a time, and then should simply be let go, with a fond farewell and a move into adulthood and more mature and informed ways of thinking.
Environmentally, the God concept comes from our parents when we are very young as they are our first Gods. Genetically, our beliefs in the "Other", the "Greater" that which is all powerful and exists "out there", comes from a time that predates our humanity.
We can and I think we should, extend and buffer life for our children through parts of their young childhood, allowing them to experience magic in life.
But if we do, at some point, it should end and we should offer them more useful, productive, and more sophisticated forms.
I'm not saying we should raise our kids with "God" beliefs, but even if we did, it really should come to a conclusion at some point before they become adults. They should be led, coached, educated to have that realization come upon them naturally, organically, as it did with myself and my children.
Religion for most of us, for those who continue to believe, one of those odd animals wherein we do grow up, we do realize the silliness of it all, but then through the concept of "faith" we allow ourselves to continue to believe in what we know in our hearts is utter nonsense, but as it allows us a structure to follow and misbelive that it functions as an overall rule of law for all humans, and it simply does not, though still, many of us choose to close our minds and continue believing in those childhood mythologies.
And so we have entire cultures and nations around the world who hold this nonsense as reality until they die, who propagate it and perpetuate it among their young and in so many cases kill those, like my son, who would sanely and rationally refuse to believe in it in his young innocence into adulthood.
Religions, where people believe it is important what we wear or don't wear, what we eat or not, whether we grow facial hair, how we abuse others, especially women, for God's (really, men's) sake, and so on.
All things that at one point in ancient history may (or may not) have served a purpose and yet which are simply no longer necessary or even useful and frequently actually counterproductive, allowing certain factions to use their religion as a springboard for full out atrocities.
It's funny how wonderful one's religion is till you do a survey of all religions, add in sociology and psychology, anthropology and physics and finally start to realize one overarching necessity in the next step in our development... atheism, or at very least, non-theism.