So it seems we are a nation divided.
Some would rather step on a Lego than invite the Elf on the Shelf into their homes, while others want to buy him clothes or have him bring extra presents.
Alas, at least we can all agree on Santa. Well, not all of us, I realize there are lots of households that don’t do Santa.
But for those of us who do Santa, we all agree. Right?
Perhaps, I’m feeling a little bit Grinchy or perhaps it’s a result of trying to be more purposeful in my parenting. Either way, this year I’ve struggled with Santa and all that his myth entails. For nine years, Santa has visited my children. However, now that I find myself in an era of limbo where one of my kids knows the truth and the others don’t, my comfort level with Jolly Saint Nick has wained.
First, there’s the lying. I spend a great deal of my days preaching the virtues of honesty, it seems more than a bit hypocritical to turn around and perpetuate a season-long lie. Certainly, it’s all in the spirit of childhood, but it’s still a lie.
Then there’s the materialism that the big man brings in his sleigh. Throughout the year when the “I wants” start, I frequently resort to “you can put that on your list for Santa” rather than saying no. Sure it’s lazy, but sometimes a mom just needs to get out of Target. The result is a year-end list that is a mile long including all the things they’ve been denied throughout the year. Santa saves me from actually teaching them anything about want vs. need or just accepting the word no. More importantly, Santa and I (by default) are placing more importance on things than on people and experience, and that’s not the message I want to send.
Cultural diversity is also a problem. If Santa brings toys to all the NICE boys and girls, are the children he doesn’t visit NAUGHTY? Obviously not, but I’ve yet to master explaining that to a five-year old.
Even more difficult to explain is the disparity in what Santa leaves in their stockings. I can tell my kids that Santa knows what’s right for each family but how do I make it seem right when Santa can only bring a little or sometimes nothing at all? They still believe in Santa so it seems a bit early to explain the realities of economic inequality.
Finally, can we just admit that the whole photo thing is a little weird? We spend the rest of the year telling our kids to stay away from strangers. Then once a year we smile and encourage them to tell their greatest wish to a stranger while they sit on his lap and smile for the camera. This has to be a little confusing.
Don’t get me wrong, I do love Santa. I love that he embodies a spirit of giving and brings magic into our lives. His poetry and pageantry are woven into my past and I hope my future. Maybe it’s because I love him, that it feels so important to know how to keep him in our life without leaving our other values for another season.