Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Santa Hammer

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.

9 comments:

  1. Merry Fucking Christmas!

    No, seriously, I don't really remember believing in Santa. I think I stopped believing around 5 or 6 years old.

    Claire thinks Santa is the coolest. We were at the PPG Wintergarden a few days ago and she loved looking at the Santas from around the world. Perhaps that will condition her for when the Mills Mall santa is different from the Ross Park Mall Santa?

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  2. MFC to you too, dear Cassie.

    I think the "helper" gambit is the way to go. The "real" Santa is far too busy making the toys and packing the sled to appear here, there and everywhere.

    Speaking of Santas from around the world, one of our favorite holiday books was "Father Christmas", which was a very British picture book detailing Santa's Christmas Eve duties, grumbling all the while:
    "Bloomin' Reindeers... Bloomin' snow..."

    Just seeing the subtle differences in the Santa culture was very cool.

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  3. I never set out to bring the whole Santa thing into our house, but daycare kids quickly took care of that for me. I think I owe them a "thank you" for the reason you mentioned--the magic is fun. Given that Alexis is 100% into it all, we would have been depriving her of something that she clearly enjoys.

    I reacted to finding out the truth the same way you did. I was four when I caught my mom buying the Snoopy electric toothbrush that was later credited to Santa, and I was just in on the gig when it came to keeping my little brother in the dark.

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  4. It takes a village to believe in Santa Claus!

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  5. I, too, figured out the con eventually. I also had a younger brother. I volunteered to continue the ruse for HIS sake. Very big of me, but actually, I was afraid the presents would stop the moment I figured it out.

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  6. I had actually never heard of the whole "I can't lie to my kids" Santa opinions until a few years ago, and my reaction was "What the Fuck??" I can't even believe this is a concern. Kids love it, it's fun, it's magic! I personally think that any adult who looks back on their childhood and claims it sucked because their parents lied to them about Santa (and gave them lots of present on his behalf) is an asshole just looking for something to complain about.

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  7. Bagger:
    Nothing wrong with being selfless AND planning for contingencies.

    Gina:
    I think those pushing that particular arguement are putting adult minds and attitudes in place of the real concerns of children, in other words, "What's Santa going to bring me?"

    Perhaps learning the truth is just another rite of passage.

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  8. Did you ever notice "Father Christmas" has no helpers, no "Mrs.", packs his own lunch, feeds all the animals and prepares his own feast.
    Now there's a Santa to believe in.
    Merry Christmas, Raymond Briggs.

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  9. Yes, the Do It Yourself Santa! Home Depot would be proud.

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