I guess my relationship with Santa Claus has been complex.
Have you ever seen pictures of a screaming baby on Santa Claus' lap? The child is clearly terrified of the bearded stranger his parents have entrusted with his life. I was that baby. I was also that baby when I was three years old and ten years old and twenty three years old. Santa Claus still freaks me out. He's just weird to me. An enigma I can't understand.
I have been contemplating my experiences with St. Nick now that I have a baby. Most parents ask themselves, "How can I make Santa Claus seem real to my child?" But I am asking, "Do I have to make Santa Claus seem real? Is the Santa myth-making obligatory?"
I don't want to participate in the Santa fantasy with my children.
It is not that I am bitter because I found out that Santa isn't real as a child. Ever since I could make logical thoughts in my head I had figured out that there could not possibly be a Santa. And I understood why my parents led me to believe that Santa is real, because many people take enjoyment out of the magical aspects. But by then I had a younger sister, so I went along with the charade so she could enjoy the holidays. The only pleasure I received from "believing" in Santa was the presents. I do love presents.
But my parents would have given me presents even if they did not pretend that they were from Santa. In fact, since they had to give me presents from both themselves and Santa, they had to buy more than they probably actually wanted or that I deserved.
I want to keep our Christmases simple. I like our four gift rule. Without sounded like a War-on-Christmas Christian, I want there to be more Jesus in Christmas. I want to attend Christmas Eve mass or Christmas morning worship at church. I want them to participate in the children's Christmas pageant and read Luke Chapter 2 on Christmas Eve.
But don't get me wrong: I don't want to take all of the secular things out of Christmas. I want to buy a bigger Christmas tree when our kids are old enough to not kill themselves by pulling it down. I want to string lights up outside on the trees and the porch. I want to bake tons and tons of cookies with frosting and mix many liters of Christmas punch and eggnog.
I want our family to wake up on Christmas morning, eat a cinnamon bun for breakfast, and open presents we bought for each other and I don't want anyone to have to pretend that an old man made them appear with magic overnight.
That is my Christmas wish.
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