16 Dec Should we perpetuate the Santa myth?
It’s 9 days before Christmas, and I’m at a crossroads.
Bronwynn is finally old enough to begin understanding the holidays–she notices Christmas trees and lights all around her. She is singing the lyrics to several holiday songs I’ve been playing on the stereo. She’s fully appreciating the wonder of a plate full of Christmas cookies.
She has not, however, met Santa or made any requests for Christmas gifts. I’ve barely mentioned Santa, actually. Mostly, it’s because I haven’t had the energy to schlepp a toddler to the mall to sit on a smelly, bearded stranger’s lap.
But it could also be that I’m not talking about Santa because I’m ambivalent about his role at Christmastime.
I did try to have a heartfelt conversation with B about what Christmas symbolizes–I waxed poetic about God, grace, peace, sacrifice, unconditional love. She listened intently for, oh, about 14 seconds…and then asked me to put the ears back on her Mr. Potato Head. Trying to regain her attention, I said, “…and Christmas is also baby Jesus’ birthday!” to which her face lit up and she squealed “Yay! Happy burt-day! We have burt-day cake??”
I asked Kris if he wants to teach her about Santa, and he said absolutely. Santa, to him, is about giving, and fostering a sense of wonder and mystery in children. “You can’t have Christmas without Santa,” he argued.
Is he right?
The cynic in me says that Santa is a big fat lie. And why would we deliberately deceive our children? Especially with a lie that implies that this mysterious person has unlimited access to every child’s material desire? That toys magically appear under a Christmas tree and don’t cost anyone anything? In this economy?! Ho Ho Noooo way.
Yet, I remember fondly the anticipation and excitement I felt around Christmas and Santa. It did serve to spark my imagination and sense of wonder and mystery. (That is, until I learned the truth and felt let down…which one could argue is another rite of passage).
So here I am. I have two gifts to wrap for each child, one of which is something I made (Kris and I wholeheartedly agree that we will keep the commercial part of Christmas very small). What do I put on the tags? “From Mommy and Daddy”? or “From Santa”? One of each? Or maybe Santa should only bring goodies like chocolate…something that health-conscious Mommy and Daddy rarely ever provide?
And if I choose to give Santa the boot…what will Bronwynn think in a few years when she sees her friends getting gifts from the jolly old guy?
What do you think? How do you handle the Santa myth?