A psychologist says this year has been so truly awful that parents should try their hardest to keep the Santa charade going for their children for just one more year.
This year has often been referred to as a ‘dumpster fire’, but Chris Boyle from the University of Exeter describes it as a “Grinch”.
The best antidote? The magic of Santa.
“The challenges we have faced this year will surely live with many children over their lifetimes,” Dr Boyle wrote in journal The Psychologist.
“With all the magic and hope he brings, Father Christmas might be a vital tonic for the Grinch that was 2020.
“What worse horror than to bookend an already troubled year with the disclosure Santa is not real?”
Dr Boyle is normally against lying to children, saying it can cause permanent psychological damage. But this year, it’s definitely a free pass.
He’s also the man behind the Santa survey, which takes in the experiences of some 4000 adults, quizzed about how and when they discovered the Jolly Red Man was actually just their parents in cahoots and large boots.
Most people found out the great revelation, he discovered, through slip-ups by clumsy parents. They were usually about eight years old.
Alcohol was a common theme, with responses like: “Dad was tipsy when setting out the presents and disturbed my sleep, so I heard him drop them.”
And, “I caught my parents drinking and eating what we had put out for Santa and the reindeer”.
Dr Boyle’s top tips for parents? Learn from other mistakes.
Change your handwriting on gift tags, make sure you hide presents well and be prepared for a barrage of questions – especially around logistics like Santa squeezing down a very narrow chimney.
“The survey results give me hope that parents could successfully navigate questions about Santa this year if they are aware of the main ways other parents have tripped up over the years; then we can all maintain the collective myth that is Santa Claus for one more season,” he said.