Sunday, December 31, 2006

Santa Rant

SPOILER ALERT: If you don't already know about Santa, don't read any further!

I'm not going to tire everyone with yet another rant on the consumerism that surrounds Christmas - it's been done and most of you know where I stand by now. Another interesting thought around Christmas occurred to me this year - the Santa Conspiracy. Where does it come from? Why do we perpetuate it? I remember the year that I figured it out - and ever since then Christmas doesn't feel the same - the magic is gone and there's a cynicism that just kinds of pesters at me throughout the season. While I was at my mom's I watched some of the late night talk shows, which were all repeats of course, and caught this one intereview with an actress who was trying to be very careful about the way she talked about Santa Claus so as not to give anything away while she was talking about what she was doing for her family this Christmas. The host ended up making a comment that, if a child had been watching, would have given away "the big secret" and this actress was visibly upset that he did that after she had been trying so hard. Well watching this got me thinking about the things that we tell our kids - the lies that we work so hard to maintain. What is the purpose? We teach kids not to lie - that "honesty is the best policy" and "truth will set you free" and all of that - but we all lie all the time for a variety of reasons!

Due to the season, Santa is the most obvious example right now - we tell kids that it's his "helpers" that are working the malls and shopping meccas, or that "the elves are watching" their behavior to report back to Santa if they deserve gifts or coal. I've even known parents to go to great lengths to "prove" that Santa exists - leaving footprints, notes, and other evidence to be found the next morning. But let's not forget the tooth fairy, Easter Bunny and boogey man - just to name a few of the other characters we create for our children. Why do we do this? With Sants you can make a case that it's the magic of the season, the spirit of giving, blah blah blah... What about the actual magic of the season that this is when we remember that God made an effort to be in this world, this life with us. Why isn't that the magic of the season and the spirit of giving that we explain? Is it because we can talk about Santa in school and not Jesus - that Santa has given us a secular way of dealing with the holiday?

Why can't we find a way to teach our kids the holiday of love and giving without encouraging this belief that their behavior earns them toys? Why can't we be honest with them so that when they get old enough to figure it out they aren't disappointed or permanently suspicious of what grown ups tell them (of course, this happens anyway once they become teenagers anyway)? I love watching kids at Christmas - believing in magic, their innocence, the excitement, etc. - but I do wonder if that wouldn't all still be there without Santa Claus. And if it wouldn't be, what does that say about us??


Big Unit said...

What there isn't a Santa?

"the holiday of love and giving" because of Jesus - how dare you even suggest such a thing.

Jesus may or may not have even existed; according to the bible which is just full of fables, stories, and was just made up by people. Why would we try to get people to believe the miraculous virgin birth of Jesus is the reason for the season?

We are going to see you soon right? Steph said she was going to help you with some documents. We miss you and Angela!

I know you miss me; especially my comments on you blog ;)

hipchickmamma said...


a few different issues at play. i think you may be onto something about a secular reason for the magic of christmas. and yes, it would be nice to dismiss santa and experience the real magic of christmas.

perhaps its another example of our distrust of real magic. we can't trust that there is real magic in the world so we create it ourselves.

i think we're all a bunch of control freaks when it comes down to it. if we can create this santa creature (btw--the older youth had a funny santa convo about why he's not in jail and what kind of freak gets away with sneaking into people's houses and gets little kids to sit on his lap all the time) or tooth fairy, or whatever and then we act it out.

i dunno. we're control freaks and we're communal so we want to share the same stories and traditions, acting them out ourselves rather than dealing witht he anxiety of having to chance it. w/out having to risk not being able to experience magic ourselves we create a hoax to enact.

that said...sometimes it's just fun!

two stories:

my mom raised me on $400 a month for many years. it goes without saying that we didn't have a lot of extras.

story #1
one christmas eve (4th grade) santa came to our house and knocked on our door, left a present for me (which i don't remember what it was). he asked for me by name. my mom wzs in pure shock and still swears she hadn't a clue who it was.

story #2
(8th grade) i had played basketball in the same shoes for 2 years (my feet stopped growing in the 6th grade/size 10!), needless to say they were quite icky and falling apart. we made it to the finals. a few days before the finals a shoe box with a brand new pair of white nike hi-tops was left on my desk at school. there was a sweet note but no name. no one ever fessed up. i still don't know who gave me the shoes and neither does my mom.

both were pretty magical to me. guess which one means the most? i'll give you a clue, it didn't involve a toy i don't even remember.

that said, i still love both stories and appreciate them for the magic they brought to my life.

mandyc said...

hipchick - thanks for the "real" magic stories and bringing some meaning to this post. the concept of all of us as a society beign a bunch of control freaks is VERY interesting to me, particularly as I grew up with a father who was extremely controlling... hmmm..

unit - while i mentioned jesus' birth being the true meaning of Christmas, I didn't talk about a virgin birth. Don't assume that your Christian rhetoric and the words I use mean the same things! :) I did miss your comments - hope to see more of them. And yes, I'll be in OKC around MLK weekend but I don't know exactly when or for how long. Angela was supposed to be coming home around then but it doesn't look like that's happening now. I can't really say anymore about it in this forum... Maybe we'll see each other soon!