First of all I want to say, with all the humility and grace I can muster, we are WAY cooler than you are. We got a box filled with A TON of chocolate from Germany today.
Sorry, I had to get that out of my system. I’ve got the mother of all sugar highs going. The kids are only sleeping because they rocketed right past sugar high to sugar coma.
The issue of Santa came up today, or this evening I should say. Today I was embroiled in the mother of all court days. Who woulda thunk EVERYONE would show for a docket on the eve of (government observed) Christmas? It was one of those days when you don’t see the sun. Maybe that’s not saying much if you live in close proximity to one of the poles, but in subtropical Florida it’s a 10+ hour ordeal, filled with people on both sides of the Petition unhappy with the Final Judgement.
But enough about the legal system, this was supposed to be a post about youth, wonder, and the Christmas way. No, I’m not talking about virgin births or babies on the run from the law. I’m talking about his Jolliness, St Nick. (He lets me call him Nick because we go way back.)
Every now and then my wife asks the tough questions… why don’t you shave more often, what’s that God awful smell, etc. Tonight she asked me if I believed in Santa Claus when I was a kid. Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t remember believing. I know my parents never made a big deal about Santa. My parents weren’t Big Deal kind of people. Some people would come up to us and ask, “Are you excited about Santa coming this week?!?” Even as a kid I remember thinking there was a thick layer of saccharine on that enthusiasm. Now, I admit I had no idea what saccharine was, but I had an acute sense for it (if that makes any sense). If there was an opposite for the saccharine afflicted, it was my parents. They made half-hearted attempts at gifts from Santa, but we caught on pretty early it was no coincidence Santa used the same wrapping paper as mom and dad, not to mention he had the exact same handwriting. If you’d seen my dad’s handwriting, a polite way of describing it would be “unique.”
This brought on a mini-debate between me and my wife. I won of course. I may be sleeping on the couch, but sometimes that’s the price for victory. Did we lose something essential to childhood? Does Santa worship foster a sense of wonder, magic, and creativity that’s unrivaled in child development? I can’t say, but I pose this counter argument: when a child does learn there is no Santa – and we all know where we were when we learned there was no Santa (well, I guess I don’t, but don’t let that ruin a perfectly good point) – does he or she feel betrayed by their parents? Think of the YEARS of deception and outright lying. How does this affect the child/parent relationship? Does it poison the well? Are kids who believe in Santa more likely to grow up to be rebellious, delinquents, or worse: Wall Street Bankers?
I have to say I’m undecided on this one. I don’t discourage others (including my wife) from perpetuating the lie. I’m ashamed to admit that once, on cross-examination by my relentless, then three year old daughter, I did not dispute the existence of Santa. She was concerned about the physics behind Santa and his achievements, growing more skeptical without quite crossing over to Santa denial, but I remained silent. However, at the time my silence was interpreted as acknowledgment – and I let it happen. My pants were stuck on the ideological fence, and it didn’t help the frakking thing was chain link.
The seeds of doubt sprouted early with Beth, but Adam’s still going strong at six. I can’t help but wonder what he’ll think of us when he knows the truth about society’s Santa Conspiracy Machine. Will he ever trust us again? Once again I’m feeling pretty awkward astride that chain link. It’s a vulnerable position for a father with a bad sense of balance.