Wanna know something that gives me the sads? The degradation of the tradition of Santa Claus. I’ve been reading a lot about it on Facebook. I believed in Santa until I was 11 years old. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I believed even AFTER I found a record player in my parents’ closet and my mom told me Santa dropped it off early because it wouldn’t fit in the sleigh with all the other stuff. I wanted to believe. I was also kind of naive and gullible. But I happen to find those qualities in children BEAUTIFUL. Now, I’m not trying to stir up a shit storm here. I know very nice and well meaning people who have bucked this tradition. And I don’t judge for that. Everyone has the right to raise their children the way they choose. But I am very traditional and if I choose to give this gift of joy to my children, I expect for others not to take that way from them…or me. Because, truly, that’s what it is to me–joy. I would be livid beyond description if someone told one of my children there was no such thing as Santa. It is not someone else’s right to deny me the privilege of raising my children the way I choose with the traditions I choose.
Here’s the thing: I love Santa and everything he stands for. I love the magic and anticipation he brings. I love that my girls believe in something they cannot see. I love that they are naive enough to do so. I love that they are little and innocent and I am trying my hardest to keep them that way for as long as possible. I love that they have such full hearted faith in something that is so utterly unbelievable. I love that they trust me enough to make that leap of faith. And I do not, by any means, believe that it is a betrayal of that trust to perpetuate the legend of Santa Claus. I also do not for one second believe that they will be any worse for the wear when they find out that Santa is imaginary. Which, for the record, I have no plan of ever outright admitting to them. I will fully expect them to play along with me until I pass the torch to them when they are mothers (God willing).
See, I don’t agree with the argument that we shouldn’t be “lying” to our children. I am not of the opinion that children should be exposed to all “truth”. I lie to my kids all the time, by omission and otherwise, and I dare anyone to tell me they don’t do the same, at least occasionally. Sitting too close to the tv will not make you blind. Making ugly faces will not make your face freeze that way. Dogs don’t really go to heaven (wait…or do they?) Sometimes, we tell our children things just because we want them to believe what we are saying, for whatever reason. Because we want them to do what is right or spare them heartache or because they are simply too young to understand certain realities. I choose to tell them that Santa is real because it’s good and wholesome and fun. Because if I can create something joyful and magical (and harmless) for them to experience, I feel that it is my RESPONSIBILITY as a mother to do that. You know why? Because the world is ugly and full of things that I wish my girls would never know about–sadness and pain and suffering. Because they have the rest of their lives to discover the “truth” about life. Because kids grow up too fast and they lose their innocence too soon. They should be given the chance to believe in goodness and magic as long as possible. Because Santa will teach them that even though they can’t have a tea party with Jesus, he is indeed real. They will learn to have faith; to BELIEVE in something. To me, there is no harm in any of this. And if anyone can point me in the direction of a homeless meth junkie or sicko serial killer who blames his misdeeds or bad fortune on his parents for “lying” to him about the existence of Santa Claus, I will stand corrected.
Now, this brings me to the meaning of Christmas. I would agree that maybe Christmas is a little too commercialized and all that jazz. But in our home, we have impressed upon our girls that Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ (well, not the little one…she’s too young to understand that Santa isn’t bringing her cake and pizza, so I don’t expect her to grasp Jesus’ birthday). They just think that Jesus loves us so much and is so generous that he has his friend St. Nick bring us all the presents on His birthday. Even though I love Santa, trust me…I’m not hatin’ on Jesus. Our Christmas priorities are, in my opinion, straight. I do not believe Santa should trump Jesus at Christmas under any circumstances. But I do believe they go hand in hand.
The bottom line is that I chose this for my children. You may choose otherwise. But don’t judge me and I won’t judge you. And for the love of all that’s holy, if you tell my child there is no such thing as Santa, you’d better hide in a place harder to find than Osama Bin Laden’s cave in Afghanistan. Because if I find you, it’s on like Donkey Kong.