I don’t have kids, so I’m not really in the position to carry the ball on the Santa issue… to believe in Santa Claus or not to believe. Or in other words, do you lie to your children or tell them there's no Santa?
I’ve seen arguments for and against and I can’t say that any one point of view is wrong. I’d say it depends on the kid. Some would be all about the drama… “Oh, mother, why O why did you lie to me, your innocent impressionable child? (Swooning...) How can I ever trust again? "
Others are like, “I knew it! I knew he couldn’t get to all those houses in one night!"
I believed until about 2nd or 3rd grade. For a while, I had what I thought was pretty compelling evidence. Mom and Dad took me to see Santa at Horne’s. On the way through the store, I spotted a toy airplane. Dad said it was just like the one he took on business trips. So when I got to see Santa, I told him I wanted one of those planes, and damned if it wasn’t under the tree Christmas morning. I never dreamed that Santa was in cahoots with parents. Heck, they probably have a bug on Santa’s chair, with a wire straight to where the parents are waiting.
But I had my suspicions, though. When I talked to the Horne’s Santa, he had a very high, melodious voice. But the Santa that came into school had a low voice. Plus, he didn’t know that when I asked for a pool table, I meant a miniature one like my friends had, not a full size pool table. Santa is supposed to know everything. Even I knew Santa couldn’t get a whole pool table in his bag.
For a while, I thought that the Horne’s Santa was the real one, because he delivered the goods, and the school Santa was probably just a helper.
The Terrible Truth
I learned the truth on the school playground, waiting in line to get inside. I suspect that’s where most kids hear it… from other kids. I didn’t feel particularly damaged by the revelation. In fact, then I felt like I was in on the plot. I got to help Mom and Dad keep up the illusion for my younger brother and sister. I remember whispering to some relatives, when they asked me about Santa, that I didn’t believe any more, I just pretend for their benefit.
Burgh Baby had a funny post yesterday about how useful the specter of Santa can be in keeping your little one(s) in line. Many commenters also mentioned using the threat of an All-Seeing, Gift-Withholding Santa to maintain order. I don’t recall Mom ever using the Santa Hammer on us… She already had a hammer: Dad and his big Duquesne ring. That was enough. And if he wasn’t handy, there was always the Wooden Spoon. All we’d have to hear is that kitchen drawer open and we knew the time for foolishness had come to an end.
In thinking about it all, I don’t think I could deprive a child of the Santa experience. If being lied to in such a fashion is truly harmful to children, then most of the country has felt that effect. So perhaps it’s this latent Santa Rebellion that has caused such harmful cultural byproducts like leg warmers, parachute pants, mullets, rap music and Joe Millionaire.
The Ghost of Christmas Past
One time, I got to pull off a really good Santa experience. Back when I was married (cold chill runs down spine), she had a son that was 8 when we moved in together. He still believed in Santa. In fact, he still believed in Santa even when he was 12 and she told him there was no Santa. He refused to accept it. I think it was because they really didn’t like each other very much and if there was no Santa, he’d have to give her the credit for all the Christmas presents she’d gotten him over the years. Those two should have been in therapy from the day she brought him home from the hospital.
Anyway, our first Christmas as a family, she decided she’d take him to a late mass, 10:00, I believe. I had a convenient excuse for not going, what with being a heathen and all. So when they left, I swung into action, getting out all the presents, putting out the decorations, and dragging his new bike up into the living room. (We already had the tree up, but that was it.) Once I saw the headlights turn in the driveway, I ran downstairs and pretended I was asleep in the chair in front of the TV. They came in, went upstairs and voila… Santa had been there!
Wow! And I had been asleep and missed the whole thing!
That was a good night. I’d hate to see either kids or parents miss out on an experience like that.
The magic wore off soon enough though… A year or two later, the kid got up about 6 on Christmas morning, went downstairs and opened every one of his presents without us, so we got to start that Christmas day with screaming.
Like I said, Santa should have brought those two some therapy sessions for Christmas. They had problems, and they were great.
One More Carol
It occurred to me today that I forgot to mention my favorite Christmas song in my last post. You can hear it for yourselves by clicking the video below. But be warned: all those of clear moral fiber and high character should probably pass.
The song comes from South Park and is sung by the teacher, Mr. Garrison, to his room full of 3rd graders. That in no way indicates that you shouldn’t clear the room of any 3rd graders of your own, before playing.
Note: Please excuse my not using a real clip. Certain South Park clips are very hard to find on YouTube, as Viacom is vigilant in keeping their properties from appearing there. Most SP stuff comes in the form of audio from the show set to still frames or in this case, the song lyrics.