Perpetuating the Santa myth
It's Christmas. Here in Australia, that means swimming, sunburn, flies and barbeques. Jealous? You betcha you're jealous.
I'm not a huge fan of Christmas this year, for reasons I'm sure will become clear closer toward the date, as my mind begins to unravel more and more. In fact, I've decided to ignore it exists, as much as I can with two small, very excited children. That's not a lot. But I'm working on it.
One personification of the festive season that is harder to ignore than most is the Big Man in the Red Suit. You know the one... S. Claus. Mr Santa. An overweight, drunk driving, breaking and entering, judgmental fictional character.
He doesn't sound quite so appealing, described like that. But please don't misinterpret me here - I'm no Santa-hater, and I certainly don't discourage any belief in him. I remember, quite vividly, what Christmas was like as a kid. It was nothing short of magic.
At playgroup with my kids today, I happened into a discussion with a few other mums and caregivers about Santa Claus - not so much about our own children believing in Santa, but about how much we believed in the big man as children ourselves. Listening to one caregiver describing how Santa was never really encouraged by her parents because they considered it lying; and then another mum lamenting how she really had felt betrayed when she discovered that Santa and his elves were fiction; it got me thinking - is this whole Santa myth really lying? Cold deception? Will my children feel the weight of this when they're older, a fantasy constructed to confuse them?
And the answer I came up with? To be honest... I don't bloody know. I've well and truly made the decision to be honest with my children about all aspects of life, so much as I can. I have to be. Having lost their father so young, my kids are going to have a firmer grasp on the darker side of life earlier than most. That's unfortunate, but true. Is embellishing a myth of a fantasy man, and a fantasy place where toys are made; going to undermine the trust they have in me?
Maybe they should understand that presents come from parents. Maybe I should instill, as I've heard some parents do, that Santa doesn't make toys, and they are not free, and therefore some kids don't get them, and that's just tough cookies.
But deep down, I know myself well enough, even after the change the last twelve months has bought. I know that this isn't really a choice I need to make. Because if I did open my mouth to tell my children the awful, adult truth, no words would come out. Bursting bubbles, especially the rainbow fragile soap ones my children still get to hold... it's just not where I'm at.
It's Christmas, dammit. I may not enjoy it at all this year, but I'll make sure my kids do. If telling fibs about a fat guy sweating his bum off while he shimmies through our keyhole is what makes it magic... then by all means, bring it on.