Confession time: I have Christmas spirit. Always have, and I hope I always will. I like the cheesy music, I like the gaudy lights, I like the predictable movies. Everything about it. As a kid, Santa was a big part of that.
Actually, Santa is still a big part of that. Twenty eight years young, people!
I believed in Santa until I was about eight. I had my suspicions earlier, but I persevered because I wanted to. It was fun. Sure, Santa had the same handwriting as my mom, and a lot of my Christmas gifts had tags from Sorrelli’s, her favorite discount store in Brooklyn that no self respecting elf would ever set foot in. I read Judy Blume books in which Peter and Fudge discussed the fact that there was no Santa. I heard my parents going in and out of the attic, where the presents were kept, when I was supposed to be asleep on Christmas Eve, and the only explanation I was offered was, “Oh, yeah, we…yeah.”
But I still believed. Why?
Kids are stupid. Like I said, I wanted to. It was fun. I wasn’t particularly materialistic, but I had an innate understanding that believing in magic and preserving this ritual was a time limited thing.
I always thought it was sweet. Until I learned about the true horrors of this myth in this article.
JK, peeps. I’m pretty sure that article is the definition of “overthinking it,” and exactly what people worry I had to deal with when they find out my mother is a psychologist.
It’s something I’ve heard debated more and more. Should you support the Santa myth? Isn’t lying wrong? As almost always, I advocate for the middle ground. I think the real danger is when people fall into these “beliefs” or “schools” of parenting. It leaves little room for logic and dealing with things on a case by case basis.
Some people get all high and mighty about not “lying” to their children. Fine, I won’t lie to them either. I feel bad for the next child who hands me an art project! “Kid, you have zero sense of perspective and proportion. That picture of your grandmother looks more like a pineapple. It’s called shading.”
Not to mention, Santa is a cultural phenomenon. He’s everywhere. It’s not a damaging lie, like “that boy is teasing you because he likes you!” or even such an outright one as, “No, SJ, the toy store is closed.”
But some people go overboard. Remember what I said about the middle ground? If you are policing what your child reads and watches to make sure they don’t hear anyone expressing any doubt about my good buddy Kris Kringle, then maybe it’s time to relax. And if your kids are unholy terrors unless you threaten to call Santa, or because Shingles the Shelf Elf is watching, they probably need to have little more respect for your authority.
Side note: If my parents had an Elf on a Shelf when I was a kid, I too would have been on my best behavior. Because I would have thought it was waiting to murder me.
It seems like the more money people have, the more time they have to blow this out of proportion. Either they will protect the Santa myth to such an extreme that they have to sit Junior down before the grandchild’s first Christmas so he doesn’t expect reindeer to deliver the gifts, or they lay the smackdown on magic and provide strategies for investment banking while the child is still swaddled.
Most of my families have more of a relaxed approach. It makes me sad, though, that a lot of the kids stop believing so early, thanks to the harsh realities of life. Their parents don’t have the money to pull it off how they’d like and tell the kid not to be disappointed, mom asks for help setting up the Santa surprise for the younger kids as there is no older adult around…there’s just less time to be a child lost in a fantasy world.
So I like it when the kids are into it. Even if it
will surely lead to distrust and incsecure attachment is super dorky.
A couple of years ago, I called a mother to let her know that the Christmas presents we had for her seven year old son just arrived. She came in with him, as there was no one available to babysit. She pulled me aside to say, “I told him that Santa was really busy, so he dropped the presents off here early.”
“SJ, my mom said Santa was here! Did you meet him?”
“I did. It was amazing. He shook my hand twice and he smells of peppermint. I’m so sorry you missed him!”
While I’m sure I did that child irrevecable psychological damage, it was pretty fun for the day.
Happy holidays, people!
*This is a joke that is only funny to my older brother and me. I hope this is a sufficient Christmas gift to him.