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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

OK, the alcoholic crack went a little overboard. I'm sure that right now America's shopping malls are filled with avuncular, portly, nonpedophilic gentlemen who are generating vital revenue streams and getting paid peanuts for it. But when you look at the idea of selling your kid on Santa Claus, there are just too many red flags:

  • It's a bad message. Don't be good for the sake of making the world a better place. Be good because the amount of crap you get at year's end depends on it.
  • It's an empty threat. Is there a parent out there who actually would put a lump of coal in his kid's stocking? Is that person's last name Stalin?
  • It's invasive. How are your kids supposed to sleep soundly when old men, or large rabbits, or tooth fairies are always committing B&Es?
  • It's a lie. What happens when your kid finds out it's all a big joke? Ha-ha! Remember how petrified you were all year because you thought Santa might stiff you? Sucker!
  • It's potentially disturbing. Worse still, what if your kid doesn't figure it out? If I told my son that an old man with a herd of flying caribou slides down every Christian chimney in the world in one night, and he didn't call me on it, I'd start to worry about him.

My children are city kids, so I have to know that they're savvy enough to survive here. And they have to know that our deadbolts will keep out the riff-raff.

Permalink | Happy Holidays | Comments (2)


Bad Message - that good things come more often to people who do good? What would a GOOD message be? That doing good things is its own reward? Thats a lovely sentiment, but practically inconcievable to a child who is more ego-oriented than an adult. Frankly - it is a rare adult that does good as its own reward. They recieve something in return - even if it is just self satisfaction, a potentially selfish motive.

Empty Threat (coal) - lots of coal alternatives can be playfully introduced with specific instances of bad behavior cited. It doesn't have to be an either/or good/bad set of guidelines - possibly the most valuable lesson involved. Our culture is obsessed with categorizing things in black or white - which is dangerous and unrealistic.

Invasive? - How are kids to sleep? Well, for the answer to that question you can ask the millions of children who do it every year. I loved trying to sleep on Christmas Eve. Its definitive of anticipation.

Its a lie - I'd say its better described as fiction. Like 100% of what is taught in your child's english lit class. Do you see the value of mythology and storytelling? Its the single most important means of conveying broad life consepts. You wouldn't be here if your ancestors didn't teach each other with fictional senarios around a campfire.
Also - anything is true in an abstract context. Ever hear of Jung? How about Joseph Campbell? Does Jesus ring a bell (either the mythologized Christ - or if you are a literalist - the primary means of Christ's teaching to others = parable)?
I believe in Santa - why? I see him everywhere this time of year, I know lots of different stories about him, and he has a direct impact on our culture and our lives. In that way - Santa is more true or real than any number of things you can pick up and hold in your hand. If you don't think that abstractions originating in the human mind are the lifeblood of all culture and civilization - you have some catching up to do with your academic understanding of humanity.
While you are discussing that there is no Santa Claus with your child - you may want to tell them there are no such thing as numbers or letters either, as this is equally true by your criteria.

Potentially Disturbing - anything and everything is potentially disturbing. Your child has 300 species of microrganism living in their mouth right now - a truth far more potentially disturbing than a construct composed of familiar roles in fairytales and children's stories they regularly encounter.
More disturbing is the rationalized choice to eliminate childhood fantasy from the lives of your children in a misguided way to make them more 'hard' because you choose to raise them in a city - and categorize that choice as one that puts your kid at increased risk.

Posted by: Ron | Dec 21, 2005 11:59:56 AM

You know, I have to say Ron has something here with the lie versus fiction thing. Santa IS a story. I mean by the "not real" standard, I guess you can't in good conscience take your child to any amusement park where Dora or Barney or whatever other story character she is most interested in prances around waving and hugging and snapping photos. Or ever use them as a tool to get your child to do something. "If you want to watch X, you have to do Y first." And the Doras and Barneys and the like are around EVERY day of the year, you know - much more pervasive than poor old Saint Nick. :^) (Wasn't poor Saint Nick an actual person, back in the day, whose memory has simply lived on - like some other people we celebrate around this time of year? Maybe?)

And actually, I think the Santa song goes, "You better be good for goodness sake" - not the amount of crap you get at the end of the year. ;^)

Anyway, even after I knew that mom and dad made the Santa deliveries, it was still entertaining to get a gift marked "from Santa." It reminded me that my parents still thought of me as their little girl, which while not always wanting to admit that I WAS, still deep down made me feel like someone out there loved me enough to keep the myth going, so that I can enjoy it with my daughter (who mind you, does not presently like Santa at all and refuses to even be in eye contact range with him most of the time).

Find me one person who's been actually psychologically scarred by the idea of Santa (and not some alcoholic pedophile Santa stand-in), and, well, I'd think that person probably has bigger problems than Santa.

So, merry christmas to all and to all a good night!

Posted by: Barbara | Dec 22, 2005 10:23:27 PM

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