Monday, December 10, 2012

Believing in Santa Claus is Lame

 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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2 comments:

  1. I disagree completely. I love Santa. I don't think I ever stopped believing in him. I realize that there's not an old man out in the tundra that wriggles down chimneys to deliver presents into socks for billions of children.

    BUT. What I do believe in is that Santa embodies the spirit of giving for everyone. Aside from being with family, my favorite thing about Christmas is being able to give gifts. I love giving gifts to my family and friends, to give them things they wouldn't get themselves, things that will make them happy.

    But sometimes, I don't want people to know that I am the giver. Maybe I spent too much (not this year, that's for sure), or maybe it's kind of mean (a switchblade comb for a balding uncle that we'll all think is hilarious but is kind of sad), or maybe I already got them something but want to give them a little more. Santa is a wonderful way to do that. I get gifts from my family every year, but I also get things from Santa that aren't usually in the purview of my family to give -- Archie comics even though I'm 23 years old or chunk of cash that I'd be too embarrassed to take straight out.

    I believe in Santa. And I know that I won't be able to change your mind, but it makes me really sad that your children won't have a fair shake at Santa and the joy that he gives many people, including me as a adult (technically).

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    Replies
    1. First of all, I hope that I did not offend you with the title. It is very tongue-in-cheek and flippant. I definitely don't think children who believe in Santa are lame nor do I think adults who believe in giving in the name of Santa are lame. I don't think you are lame, Betsy.

      I know that it is a valued tradition in many families, but I guess the point I was trying to make was that when I was growing up, it wasn't really valued like I think it must have been valued in your family. It seems from your description that giving in the name of Santa served a purpose in your family, ie certain gifts could not possibly be from you but from a higher and magical person. If my family had that tradition of giving gifts from Santa that meant something to the receiver, I would probably cling to the tradition and continue it with my children.

      But my family didn't do that. It always felt to me that my parents were doing the Santa thing because everyone else was and they didn't want us to feel left out. It had no real meaning from them. I'm pretty sure that their parents didn't do Santa with them, so it wasn't really traditional for them.

      So, you have these warm fuzzy feelings about Santa that, if you have children of your own or have children in your life from other sources, you will be able to recreate these family memories for them and make Santa joyful and magical. But all of my warm fuzzy feelings come from other things that I did with my family, like putting up Christmas lights outside, eating cinnamon buns on Christmas morning, rehearing for the Christmas play, making punch with my mom and my sister for our family party, etc. None of them have to do with Santa and I don't want to do things with Owen and the new baby just because everyone else is doing it, without their being a meaning behind it.

      I guess what I am saying is that even if I did Santa with my kids, they wouldn't get that joy that you get from him, because I don't feel that joy myself from Santa and wouldn't know how to create it for them. But I absolutely think that people who did grow up with that tradition should continue it. This is not a declaration of war against Santa.

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