DEAR SON: Santa Claus is a big, fat lie

Friday December 15 2017

Kids are told to write him letters, hoping he will reply and send them gifts. That man is a lie, son. Don’t write nothing to him.

Kids are told to write him letters, hoping he will reply and send them gifts. That man is a lie, son. Don’t write nothing to him. ILLUSTRATION | IGAH 


Dear Jijee,

I write this when you are not old enough to talk but if all goes well, that will happen soon.

You are also not old enough to start receiving unsolicited toys from those darned, hell-bound salespersons who give children goodies to blackmail their parents into buying them.

I’m hoping that when you reach that stage, I’ll be patient enough not to smash too many foreheads of the people who will placing items on your hands without my knowledge when we are at a public place then expect me to pay for those toys. I won’t.

I’m also silently grateful that you have not reached the age where you will be drowning in tears when no new clothes and shoes have been bought for you for Christmas.

I look forward to seeing you celebrate the 2017 Christmas — the first since you were born — clad in clothes you have been wearing for the last couple of months and not giving a damn about it.

Clothes don’t maketh the child, do they? In any case, a new garment will only last a few seconds on you before you hit the ground with it, crawling all over and chasing whatever it is crawling children chase and dirtying it before anyone can say “Sunday best”.

That is why clothes for crawling kids must be marketed as “ready to hit the ground running”. Anyway, let me stay safe from the clothes-buying pressure while it lasts.


Also, I’m not sure how old you will be when you will read this, but I would like you to know at the earliest opportunity that there is a man called Santa Claus, a burly person with a taste for red and white clothes — white that matches his beard.

He hardly speaks but when he does, what comes out is: “Ho! Ho! Hoooo!” (Son, I had to write the “ho” accurately because we are living at times when words are given new meanings every day).

You will see Santa’s images and hear about him whenever Christmas is approaching. Kids are told to write him letters, hoping he will reply and send them gifts. That man is a lie, son. Don’t write nothing to him.

I will not follow the script of other parents in the West who keep cheating their young kids about Santa existing somewhere; that the man brings them gifts and receives sweets or whatever children leave for him.

It is only later in life that the children learn, from other sources, that the Santa story was all make-believe. And kids are said to receive the news with a lot of anger.

Some psychologists’ studies have revealed that the realisation of Santa being a hoax is so heart-breaking that children get depressed afterwards.


So, when hear about Santa from cartoons or your peers, just handle the information with a truck-load of salt because it is all a cooked story. Cooked things need salt, son.

Another thing I will want you to resist are those sugar “fibreglass” snacks they sell at Uhuru Park and other places where children abound on Christmas Day and on weekends.

I have seen it being made only once and since that day, I’ve been thinking the product is a rip-off: someone pours sugar into some oven then it comes out in the form of a coloured thread that is wrapped around a stick to make it look like some yarn. Sugar daddy and sugar mummy coats are made from that thread, maybe?

The process is reminiscent of how fibreglass is made from glass and it actually seems to me that a person buys more air than anything else when paying for such a snack. I hope you will understand when I don’t look at it twice despite your pleading.

But for whatever it is worth, I am ready to give you a treat this and every Christmas. If you want to try your luck on getting the biggest balloon by choosing a number at the local shop, who am I to stop you?

Who am I to stand in your way to finding out that playing with odds of 1:5,000,000,000 to get the largest balloon is no child play? Just do anything you will wish to; but keep off the Santa myths.

This series brings you writings by Peter Mogambi, a Nairobi resident who became a father in January 2017. By the time his son is old enough to read and comprehend, which is at least 11 years from today, a lot of water will have passed under the bridge. So, he has decided to preserve happenings in black and white so that when the boy can finally comprehend, he will get to follow his father’s feelings.