The Christmas Conundrum

When I first started thinking about the Santa Claus myth in relation to my own child, I wasn’t sure I liked the idea. A bit of a bleeding-heart “How can I lie to my child?” thing. Why would I bother with this farce, this deception?

Now that my child is old enough to start getting the concept… I’m starting to think that perhaps Santa Claus really does exist.

You see, I’ve realized that ol’ St. Nick is here, whether we bring him up or not. We haven’t really talked with E about Santa Claus, but he still knows about him – from books, from talking with the other kids at day care, from ubiquitous festive imagery.

Furthermore, there’s all this proof of his existence. He’s not just at the mall. The government is in on it, and we’ve gone way past the level of Miracle on 34th Street; now, not only can Canada Post deliver your letter to Santa, they can guarantee he’ll write back! And that’s just the beginning: you can Skype with Santa, you can email Santa… and the savvy chap is not just on email – he blogs and tweets!

So if I really wanted to NOT do Santa, it would involve one of two things:

a) revealing basically the entire population of the continent to be liars and co-conspirators, OR

b) engaging in far greater subterfuge and stress to avoid exposing our son to Santa. (We’d obviously have to move to the backwoods.)

I might do the former, if I had a good reason. Sean and I agree that we definitely DO NOT want to raise one of those little spoiler turkeys who chooses opportune moments to sneer, “Santa doesn’t exist, dummy! He’s just your mom and dad,” at kids who still believe. But we could find a way around that, if we had to.

But why fight it? It’s not such a horrible myth, if done right. Jolly magical guy who wants to make children happy – that’s kinda nice. Industrious, dextrous elves and flying reindeer with kickass names – pretty cool. Rewards for good behaviour, well – we parents do that all the time already. As long as we avoid sanctimony when it comes to the Naughty/Nice list. (I’ve seen kindergartners pass judgment on each other’s N/N status based on recess skirmishes.)

And does it destroy a child’s world to find out the truth? We discussed this very question in the staffroom the other day. There were a couple sad stories – one in particular where someone’s Grade 4 teacher told the whole class they were stupid if they still believed in Santa Claus – but for the most part, people remember just gradually figuring it out… and being okay with it. Simply outgrowing the concept.

More importantly, most of us loved believing in Santa, and so did/do their kids. There were lots of cool anecdotes about Christmas elves or bears who would show up every December and keep an eye on children; mysterious reindeer prints to be found in the snow; telltale bits of red to indicate a painted sleigh or a furry suit; even jingle bell sounds far off in the night on Christmas Eve. I have very clear memories of trying to stay up late, so we could even just hear Santa Claus arrive (I don’t think I wanted to actually meet him, just know he was there).

It was SUPER-FUN. Christmas was exceedingly thrilling, those years I believed in Santa.

Point being… I think E’s going to get a dump truck from Santa this year.

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6 thoughts on “The Christmas Conundrum

  1. emerge says:

    OMG. We not only tried to stay up late, we did jumping jacks in our room to try to tire ourselves out so we could nap in the afternoon (I also seem to remember we made a special napping-pallet on the floor?) so as to be able to stay up late and hear Santa on the roof. But all I remember hearing was the late-night Christmas songs on CHUM FM.

    Those were good times. I’m not even sure we really believed at that point, but we wanted to, and that was the point.

    I also remember feeling a little sad when the youngest of us officially didn’t believe anymore. The elder of us had sort of basked in the magic a while longer than our own belief lasted, because we had to sustain the drama for the younger ones. It was nice. And not because Santa bought us tons of stuff – it was only one thing each, generally, unlike some of our friends who got a whole list of stuff, which I always thought was a bit much. Really, the magic is not as much about the gifts as it is about the…magic. The fly-around-the-whole-world and swoosh-up-and-down-chimneys-without-getting-dirty stuff. The commercial aspect is key, yes, but it doesn’t have to be. And remember what Kris Kringle did for Natalie Wood!

    It would be a bit sad to be surrounded by Santa and not get to be excited… I do wonder what it’s like to grow up in a family that is totally not into Christmas, like, you follow a different religion and don’t mix with the icons of others… do they feel oppressed or, like, stalked by Santa? Hmm.

    Anyway. It’s nice to hear that Santa knows just what E loves.

    • diblog says:

      Yep, emerge, exercise, napping pallet, the works. It was fun. And I remember reading the Nutcracker for as long as I could that night, but not nearly as long as I’d intended.

      I agree, it would be sad to be excluded from Santa mythos. I find that, at least at our school, the kids that immigrate and normally celebrate Diwali or something are excited to participate in the Santa Claus thing while they’re at school. It’s a huge part of our culture.

  2. Beth says:

    My daughters and I relived a memory we all shared: one Christmas Eve in Ottawa was very very foggy and they both saw a red light flashing in the sky just as they were off to bed. They were both certain they had seen Rudolph’s nose guiding the sleigh. We all hold this as a special magic memory.

  3. Skye says:

    Yes . . . Santa. There is not even a question in my mind. As a grown up I’ve realized that Santa does different things for different families. Whether it’s a stocking, one present or many presents, I can’t imagine a Christmas Eve without the anticipation of Santa coming!
    Merry Christmas!

  4. Auntie CL says:

    This might make a really interesting discussion for the family – how we experienced Santa, what we did with out children, etc. I know my kids put out a non-cookie-based snack for him; as children of a diabetic dad, they thought about cookies from every household as possibly too much even for a fat elf. I can think of lots of aspects of the Santa question that would be interesting to share!

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