The Great Deception

The Great Deception. Every year, millions of children are introduced to variations on a long-living lie sustained through collusion and delusion. Parents—intentionally and purposefully—lie to their children, never considering that modeling is far more effective in molding future behaviors than is simple instruction.

Do not believe the lie I told you, for years, about Santa Claus, but believe me when I tell you about the son of God, born of a virgin, who was crucified and died but came back to convince humankind that resurrection is a thing. And to absolve us of our sins. Or some such story. 

And we wonder why so many of us seem to worship a psychotic, neurotic, deeply insane autocrat? We’re taught from an early age that lies are okay and natural and that one should not feel at all embarrassed for accepting as truth the most remarkably absurd and obviously untrue statements and scenarios. That’s on you, parents of the world!

The vindictive sarcasm above to the contrary notwithstanding, I rather like the Christmas season. The lights, the aromas of cooking and just-harvested live trees, and the blatant expressions of goodwill are all rather appealing. And the stories about reindeer and eggnog and mistletoe. And candles. Especially the flickering light of candles.

And when I hear children giggling with delight about Santa Claus and all the good things people do during the Christmas season, I find that I can accept a few lies to unsuspecting kids. They’re going to learn through harsh experience about lies and lying, so we might as well introduce them to deception in a positive way. A way that will introduce to them the concept of open-mindedness; the willingness to accept and embrace  lies, even lies so utterly blatant.


I read a poem yesterday at the celebration of life service, held in our church, for a friend who died last week. Her husband asked me to write and read a poem. Honored to have been asked, I wrote a short narrative poem.  I hope it captured her genuine goodness and her steadfast resolve in support of gratitude and justice.

I learned that a frozen water pipe at church caused damage when it thawed, just after we left, following the celebration of life service.  The damage caused cancellation of this afternoon’s planned service and “soup supper.”

Instead, I will make chile con queso and we’ll steam some of the pork and jalapeño tamales I bought couple of weeks ago from El Mercado Latino. It’s almost by sheer chance that we have everything we need for a traditional Swinburn Christmas Eve. Even beer, though I can’t drink it. It has been five months since I had acute pancreatitis. And it has therefore been five months since I have been off of alcohol. I should have lost a lot of weight during that period, but I must have replaced the empty calories in alcohol with the empty calories of round-the-clock snacks. Moving forward, I’ll reject such frequent snackery.  After the chile con queso and tamales. And tomorrow’s feast.


Odd. I can be extremely flexible, which is how I want to be. But the opposite trait in me is just as strong. I can be rigid, utterly unbending. I can refuse to yield my position on matters both supremely important and extraordinarily trivial. There seems to be no discernable pattern to my broad-mindedness and my opinionated unwillingness to budge, even in the face of irrefutable evidence that my position is inarguably wrong. Fortunately, I think, the outbreaks of headstrong intractability are less frequent than are my periods of tolerance and understanding. Regardless of my position on the continuum, I am ever the skeptic. Even when I fully embrace a position or idea, seeds of doubt as to its rectitude sprout in my mind like kudzu, fed high-nitrogen fertilizer, that might overtake entire forests.


Today is Christmas Eve. I wish everyone a pleasant, merry, safe, and memorable Christmas. I’ll write again tomorrow.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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