Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ho, ho, huh?

You knew I couldn’t leave this one alone…

Santa Claus: What in the world is this all about? I mean, I know Santa had kind, humble origins as St. Nicholas, but then he kept getting twisted and messed with until he had morphed into some crazy, boisterous, larger-than-life icon that bears little resemblance to the original… And that’s a shame unto itself.

But why, oh why, is every stranger intent upon making sure my kid milks this Santa concept for all it’s worth? Everywhere we go, everyone who lays eyes upon him is asking, “Are you going to get some presents from Santa? Did you tell Santa what you want for Christmas? Have you been a good boy so Santa will bring you lots of things?” These people aren’t familiar to us; I could be a Jehovah’s Witness or Jewish and they’d never know. Maybe I should buy the kid a little skullcap or something, but that would be wrong (because he’s not old enough, technically, to wear one—and because it would fly completely in the face of what I really do believe.)

Anyway. It’s weird. Step away from “tradition” for a minute and think about it: these strangers are asking my kid if he’s going to behave well so that a person he does not know will reward him with goods. These people, well-meaning though they may be, are inquiring of my son whether he plans to go sit on a big, fat, strange man’s lap and tell him his innermost desires. Isn’t that a tad odd, really? Take away the red and white uniform and beard, and there's a guy in a busy, crowded place, encouraging kids to sit on his lap and tell him what they want, asking them if they've been naughty or nice... You know what you’d likely have in the eyes of the world, don’t you? A pedophile. And what are we telling our kids all the time? Watch out for strangers, don’t talk to strangers, don’t let anyone touch you or do anything to you that makes you uncomfortable. It’s no wonder many little kids are frightened of the guy!

And seriously, did you look forward to that experience when you were a kid? I don’t clearly recall the moment, but I do have a faint memory of intense anxiety and skipping heart prior to the sitting, and then huge relief after the dirty deed was done. It was not enjoyable; it was a ritual you performed because you truly believed it was the only way to get what you wanted on Christmas morning. Hmmm. Is this a healthy message to send? It kind of bears a ghostly resemblance to prostitution… Okay, that’s a stretch. But still.

So, we’re not in a hurry to usher Marcus into a crowded store to sit on anyone’s lap. It takes the focus off of the real reason we celebrate the holiday—after all, nobody’s wishing me a merry Sant’mas yet, thank goodness—but frankly, it just seems like an ordeal that can be delayed for a while. I think he’d be terrified of the guy, after all, and I can’t justify terrorizing my own child. Besides, we’ve downplayed the whole Santa end of Christmas as much as we can; we should take full advantage of his ignorance. I know, I know; inevitably, he will run into kids who feed the frenzy and plant greed in my sweet little one like bad weeds. But until that happens, we’ll politely acknowledge Santa, answer any questions about him, and then change the subject.

Besides, I want to check online and find out if the big department stores run an Act 34 on their seasonal Santas. Look how many perverts still manage to sneak into the school systems, and those organizations run all sorts of background checks prior to employing someone. Makes you wonder, eh?


Cari Skuse said...

I know where you are coming from. Some people just don't recognize boundaries. We have always gone to see Santa IF the kids wanted to see him and talk to him. Carrick had many years where he would only talk to Santa from a distance or not at all, which was fine.
Luckily, this year we are going to see the Santa that knows my dad (long story) and he's been doing it for years at the local mall. He even sent the kids a photo of himself (via my dad) and wrote a message on the back to them (no more lying---a real problem as of late). Seems to have made a big impression!
We saw him last night at the mall--it was bring your pet night! The boys even made cards for him!

Anonymous said...

I dont know, a lot of it depends on the kid and which Santa you go see. The Santa at Robinson Mall is FABULOUS and my kids think he is the READ Santa and all the rest are just helpers b/c he is so good. Plus some kids LOVE Santa. Dont be too hard on people, they just want the kids to enjoy Christmas. But I do hate when people are forcing the kid to see Santa, that is terrible.

Anonymous said...

That should say "REAL" Santa, not Read. ;P

Anonymous said...

I never went to see Santa as a child but I would have been terrified -- I was shy. But I enjoyed the notion that he was bringing me presents and that he ate the cookies we left out. We always had the manger and church too -- Santa and presents were a different aspect of Christmas. I agree that the lap thing is much weirder now than it was then, so any kid that wants to skip that part -- NO PROBLEM! Good idea the other commenters had about going to a Santa you know and/or trust.

Mel said...

yes, nice to have a santa in the family and friends circle. and great if he can wield serious behavior-changing properties! ; )

I know that not all kids are frightened--if they're up for it, that's cool. I do wish sometimes that people who don't know my kid wouldn't keep bringing him up all the time--but it's true, they just like to see little kids excited about it all. And I do believe it's possible for santa and Jesus to co-exist.

I guess that Christmas is just like every other part of life: it's all about achieving balance.