Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Year Without a Santa Claus

No, it's not the movie. It's our life! Hanover and Flurpee both realized that Santa Claus is my split personality. Hanover asked me point black if I was Santa last year on Christmas day. Flurpee says she knew Santa Claus wasn't real (she was 6 at the time) and asked her sister if she knew who Santa was. So the cat is out of the bag here.*

I cannot tell you how proud I am of my kids that they figured out the Santa thing. They knew there was no such thing as magic, they figured out that reindeer couldn't fly without out it, they could tell all of the toys were the same things purchased at regular stores instead of made by elves, they knew no person could travel to all of the houses of everyone who celebrated Christmas in one night. They used their experiences and observations and compared it with what happened on the 'magical night' and they were not afraid to come to the right conclusion--regardless of what anyone else says. I am just so impressed.

So the point of the post? I am a bit frightened by some of the attitudes of other parents when it comes to Santa. The major effort spent leaving 'evidence' by some parents is just the start. The true sadness some parents feel at the idea of their kids eventual discovery of the truth is really astounding to me.

My sister-in-law seemed shocked that my kids knew about Santa and wondered what they could look forward to at Christmas. Which, of course, is quite puzzling to me. I do not think she meant to say that she did not enjoy Christmas, but it certainly came out that way. After all, I think most people do not believe in Santa and yet enjoy Christmas immensely.

Another mom was thankful her nine year-old still believes. She feels that kids need magic. Even though it is stated often, I never did understand what that means. I think part of that means protecting kids from realities of the world that they do not yet have the framework to understand, like household budgets or why people go to war (OK--perhaps the more subtle reasons since most kids understand needing to protect oneself). I think it mostly means that kids need to know that wonderful things are possible. What I really don't get is why wonderful things have to be unattainable without magic.

So how is Christmas without Santa? I will admit that it is particularly annoying to have Hanover edit her Christmas list based on her perception of our financial situation--which generally tends to seem more dire to them because I often explain that we do not have enough money for ice skating lessons, piano lessons, or horse back riding lessons. A month of any of which is equal to our Christmas budget per child. And again, last year, after confirming that her parents were responsible for the presents, Hanover was constantly coming up to me saying 'thank you.' Super annoying. I had to explain to her that we do not expect or want thanks at Christmas time.

*I definitely do Santa for my kids even though I call myself an Objectivist. I have a few rationalizations why--which I could share if you want. For the most part, I didn't have to talk about Santa at all. The kids were in day care when they were old enough to start understanding about Christmas and we watched all of the Christmas shows. I never told them big stories about Santa, but I did not tell them I was Santa and nor did I tell them Santa was make believe either. In our house, the parents are Santa. We do exist, we do decide what presents they can get, we do know whether they've been good or bad, we do not leave presents unless the kids are asleep, and we do need Christmas lists. And perhaps that is why my kids didn't ask if Santa was real, but if we were Santa.

Here's a take on 'no Santa' and parents who try too hard.

1 comment:

christinemm said...

I think there are basically two kinds of personalities of kids. Some seem more to live in the world of the imagination and others are strongly rooted in reality from day one.

I'm beginning to form an opinion that the firm in reality kids are often those who somehow figure out or ask so many questions about where babies come from, wanting ALL the details that at age 4 or 5 they often know EVERYTHING and they are fine and well. The imagination kids seems to ask some questions but make it clear they don't want to know more and some are traumatized when they find out 'too much' for them to handle and are really bothered and grossed out.

I have one of each kind of kid and I raised both the same and I really see these things seem to come from inside their personalities.

I was raised with a Bah Humbug dominating father and the only reason I had a Santa at Christmas and the 'magic' of the myth of it was thanks to my grandmother. I am glad I had it until a rotten bully in 4th grade made me figure it out as she was being rotten said, "Yeah, and I bet you still believe in Santa Claus". I did but that moment I realized it was not true.

I'm too tired at the moment to try to explain why the magic thing, whether it is fairies or Santa or the Easter Bunny seems like a good idea but some time maybe I'll try to show you my perspective.

Have a great weekend.