Monday, December 8, 2014

Santa Ate My 4 year Old

It's that time of year again....the time with the Catholic blogsphere blows up over who chooses to participate in the Santa mythos and those who don't while those who fall somewhere in between gape in horror.  I fall fairly securely in the category of those who don't.  I grew up on the other side, but my parents weren't the type who kept trying to perpetuate the fantasy (yes, there are those).  When I asked, they told me under pain of keeping it to myself (younger brother you understand).  My husband also grew up on the other side, but he escaped the pain part since he has no siblings.

I'm not writing the post with the intention of telling people what to do.  This isn't what this blog is about.  It's merely about explaining things and how I see them.  Take it or leave it.  Boo and hiss or applaud.  It's my party over here.

So here's why I'm glad we don't perpetuate the Santa mythos. We don't avoid it.  We have books and movies.  It's just that we are completely honest that it is a myth just like Hercules or Star Wars.  And just to clarify what I mean by Santa mythos, I mean pretending that Santa consults his lists of naughty and nice, then shows up on my roof with his flying reindeer on Christmas eve, jumps down my chimney (which I don't have) to leave behind either presents or coal, eats cookies, and ends his evening drinking hot coco snuggled up next to Mrs. Claus while giving his elves a much needed break.  Not the real St. Nicholas who punches heretics and bails girls out of prostitution.

Go ahead.  Make my day.

1) It's just creepy

So yesterday I took HB to the store to pick out a present for someone else who otherwise wouldn't be getting anything for Christmas.  He pitched a fit over not getting something himself.  Some older guy comes up and says "Santa Claus is watching" repeatedly while suggesting he should take HB home with him.  Not to mention that he touched HB and I was about to get all kung fu ninja on old guy until he stopped.  Creepy.  Not only was he giving me the heebee geebees, but the whole "Santa Claus is watching" is just as creepy.  While I'm sure St. Nicholas is up in heaven watching out for me, I doubt it's to see if I'll screw up because let's face it I'm a sinner so I will.  I like to think that St. Nicholas is up there rooting for me and looking out for me.  It's a huge difference and not one I think HB needs to get confused about especially if it turns out he is indeed autistic.

Let's see...nice...naughty...naughty

2) Going Over Board with the Mythos

People go way to overboard with the mythos.  And it's confusing my son.  Today HB came home with a letter from Santa in his backpack complete with his name printed on this letter.  It's one thing to play pretend, but it's another to constantly play up the mythos.  Does a 4-5 year old really need a letter from Santa?  I didn't get a letters from Santa.  Isn't it going a bit overboard with the whole pretend thing?  It's way more than even people who LARP do.  At the end of the day those who perform Live Action Role Play, take off the suits and get back to their day jobs.  Come on now.  Let's cut it back a bit, m'kay?

Star Wars LARPing.  Pic from Master Alexus CC License 3.0

3) Lying

Some people get caught up in the Santa mythos that they seem to forget that it's a myth.  You tell children that they get presents from Santa.  And when they start to suspect something, you tell them (again) that Santa coming down a chimney to leave toys is totally true.  At some point, you have to be honest with your child.  Why not simply be honest with them from the beginning?  It's pretend, make-believe, a myth.  And you know what, they can still enjoy the mythos knowing it's pretend.  My 4 year old loves Star Wars, but I tell him that it is totally a myth.  It's still fun, but totally pretend.  Why can't we keep the cultural elements and the goodness of jolly Ol' Santa without all the deception?  I mean isn't that why there's a thing that adults do called "Secret Santa?"

Norad meeting with Santa prior to tracking.

4) Eclipsing Christ

One of the commenters on another person's blog said that she grew up in a communist country.  In order to squash all religious stuff, they played up the Santa mythos big time.  While in the US and Canada, we all have the right to focus our attention on Christ and to worship him, he still gets eclipsed by the culture gone mad over Santa.  There are more movies on television about Santa than there are Nativity ones right now.  That's just wrong.  My four year old comes home singing songs about Santa, but no songs about Christ.  And he goes to a Catholic school.  Santa should be serving Christ.  Christ is the one we're supposed to be waiting for.

5) Gluttony

The whole Santa mythos is linked tightly with presents.  I'm trying to teach my children that money doesn't grown on trees and more serious things like good stewardship.  This is very difficult with Black Friday sales (yes, they are in Canada too), Christmas wish lists, and so on.  Retailers don't care about frugality.  They use your children to whine, cry, and throw fits in order to make profits.  So your children learn about the emptiness and sinfulness of gluttony when they should be learning about saving and giving.  No wonder people are in debt.  HB is apparently not getting the right message. 

Taken by Husky CC License 2.5

It doesn't matter which side of the Santa mythos you decide to be with your family.  It is still good to be aware of the pitfalls and tread carefully.  As for me and mine, it's better to avoid them as much as possible.

1 comment:

  1. This is a really good post, Laura. I'm not a huge Santa fan. :) If it were up to me, we wouldn't partake at all, but it meant a lot to my husband to tell the kids about Santa. So, we compromised, and we "do" the Santa thing, but we really don't build it up a lot. No visits to sit on laps or letters. And we tell them as soon as they start asking, we don't perpetuate the story any longer than 5-6 years old. Then we explain that Santa is based on the real St. Nicholas, and so far so good. Henry is unscarred. :)


I love to read your thoughts. Thanks for sharing!