Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Cup of Tea, Santa and Me

A wintry afternoon, the wind blowing the rain everywhere. I've a cup of Yunnan Fancy at my right and the woodstove aglow and in my sights. I almost let the fire die earlier today and I'm out of newspaper now, so diligence is due, but I still want to write, so I sit at my short little school table and tap it out.

Santa. The Holly Jolly Fat Man is under attack these days. Which, in rereading that last statement, seems a bit ridiculous outside of a B movie. "Santa Claus and the Martians", perhaps, but "Santa Under Attack"? By whom?

Well, there is that whole group who decries our Jolly Old Elf with the "Santa spells Satan with just one letter changed, so he must indeed be The Horned One". Well, damn, now there's some logic you can't argue with, but it also holds true with the words "Dog" and "God" and I'm pretty sure either item is not the other. What sort of miserliness of life would make this the reason to upset Santa from his throne as Benevolent Supernatural Creature who brings a little nice something to children? There is an omniscient mythology about Santa, true, but he's not saying "Worship Me", just "Maybe, If you get a chance, some cookies and milk would be nice". Santa's not asking for 10% of your income, nor are Santa's believers trying to create legislature to overrun other people's civil liberties. I do think, too, that this extremely vocal group of non-Santa-believers are trying to spread the flavor of mass dissent to the argument, but that they are likely in the minority, even with all that yelling about "standing at the gates of judgment" and being held accountable about having lied about Santa to our kids.

I have to say, if this is the Big Trauma in my son's life, I will be so grateful. Truly.

Reading that lovely Mamaworldforum, more and more often I see posts from parents considering calling foul on Santa. "It's a lie" they say. Yes, and probably one of the most benign lies we will ever tell. I don't believe that every parent is 100%-All-the-Time completely honest with their children, because it simply wouldn't be good parenting. We shield them from traumas (lie through omission), our knowledge of their failings, our disappointments in them and for them. We do all this because we must be the adult and contain some of these situations. We do this because there is so much we don't need to tell our children. How many times have we deceitfully distracted our kids while they were watching us as we tried to sneak the chocolate bars into the cupboard up high, or hand off a desired item to someone else on the sly when baby wasn't looking? Let's not all get on our high horse all at once.

What about the morality of Santa? I like Santa. He's an equal opportunity present-giver. As a character, aside from the pre-scripted "Lives in the North Pole, brings presents late on Christmas Eve" stuff, families can create their own Santa traditions. In our home, we write a letter to Santa every year and mail it at the big mailbox, then celebrate with slices at our local pizza place. We've been coaching our son to ask Santa for very modest things, like seedpods (last year) and bath toys (this year). We add a couple fortune cookies, his favorite, and he's completely delighted. Joe and I trade stockings, usually filled with chocolate and good beer. Simple, and this will be easy to continue over the years. Plus, Santa brings children what he wants to bring them, and so maybe it won't be something on the list. This is a good lesson that we don't always get everything we want. In our house, there is no discussion of 'deserving' Santa's gifts--he's just a really unconditional guy.

This is why I love Santa. You can make him to be anything you like. So, I guess if someone wants to make him the devil, well, it is their choice.

Nonetheless, I just can't imagine anyone getting this worked up over the tooth fairy.

No comments: