Monday, December 27, 2010

[If] Mommy Says No Santa [Says Yes]

I wrote about Santa two years ago.

I guess I don't really have anything to add to that, except that it continues to surprise me how many parents I know embrace the Santa thing.  In part I think it has to do with happy childhood memories; if you believed in Santa and didn't feel traumatized by the disillusionment, you're more likely to want your kids to have the same experience -- or to want to revisit the belief yourself. 

There are lots of good reasons not to lie to your kids, especially about something so trivial.  I mean, really, the default should always be honesty unless there's a particularly good reason to lie.  And this is what gets me about the Santa thing: no one ever gives a good reason for doing it.  "Magic," they say, as if the very absurdity of the story justifies it.  The thing is, it's only magical to grown-ups, because we're the ones who live in a world where Santa cannot exist.  It's not particularly magical to children, because so many explanations are beyond their comprehension, and so much of their understanding is about taking our word for stuff.  Is it so much more magical to think that a fat dude in a red suit delivers presents down the chimney than that a burly dude in a brown uniform brings them from grandparents in Wisconsin to your front door in Schenectady?  To us, sure, but to a little kid? So is it really about making more magic in their lives, or is it about reliving the magic of our own childhoods?

As a kid who grew up knowing presents came from mom and dad, I can assure you that there's no lack of magic on Christmas morning for kids like me.  You can even indulge in some of the Santa stuff -- I certainly got presents "from Santa" and left out cookies, knowing full well that Mom and I were playing pretend (Dad not so much a participant in the Santa thing), and enjoying it no less, and maybe more, for the knowledge.  At the age when most kids are learning The Truth about Santa, I could throw myself wholeheartedly into the fantasy because it was never a matter of True or Not True; it had always been a myth.

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