Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Santa Dilemma

As it's nearly Thanksgiving, I thought I'd take a moment and do what the entire retail industry does and skip ahead to the next holiday. This is actually something I wrote a few years back, not that any of my few readers here would know this had I not just mentioned it. The spirit of full candor has, for some odd reason, fully gripped me so I will also admit, from the start, that I did eventually cave in and go along with the mass deception.

The holiday season has arrived, and now that I have a very-inquisitive pre-three year old on my hand, I find myself in a bit of a dilemma. You see, my little one knows what Christmas is, or at least the basics of it. She's certainly aware that there is something in it for her. She'd have to be blind, deaf, and considerably less bright than she is not to have noticed the holiday push. (Which started back in October. I think Santa handing out Halloween candy is stretching it a bit.) And while we haven't been to church often enough for her to even begin to grasp the religious implications, the fat guy in the red suit is a different manner.

I'm not trying to be a Grinch (trademark, copyrights, etc., please don't sue me Seussians) about this, but I'm not sure perpetuating the myth of SC is something I want to do. At least not as the jolly old elf who actually comes down the chimney. I do believe in Santa (insert Peter Pan allusion here), as the representation of the spirit of Christmas. I think the fat guy serves a noble purpose in that, and I'm not about to argue otherwise.

But lying to my daughter about where the gifts under the tree comes from? I know, I know, every parent does this. And we don't view it as lying. Except it is. Sure, we say it's all in fun. We get to smile, laugh covertly into our egg nog, while they rejoice... up until that moment when they learn Santa's one big con job, and realize that Mom and Dad have been perpetuating a delusion for the past several years.

My daughter's going to realize Dad has no idea what he's talking about soon enough, triggered no doubt by the onset of her teenage years. I don't need to add fuel to that fire. Sure, no child I know of has ever turned to their parents in the midst of an argument and shouted, "You lied about Santa Claus," but I think there's that voice, perhaps subconsciously, somewhere in the back of every teenage head that says: "You can't trust them. Remember Santa? Or the Easter Bunny? A rabbit that lays eggs? No wonder we're failing biology!"

[The Cadbury Bunny, on the other hand, is quite real. No arguing.]

On the other hand, while I don't want to lie, I don't want to face the wrath of other parents down the road when my kid exposes the cover-up to her pre-school classmates. I don't need that, being labeled as the anti-Christmas backstabber, revealing the secrets of the inner parental cabal. Nor do I need my daughter being ostracized as some conspiracy nut when the other parents convince their children that she's just a little weird.

"Which," they'll say soothingly to little Jimmy or Jenny, "is not unexpected. Look at her father."

So I'm stuck. I think I have one more year of wiggle room on this, before I have to start tackling the hard issues like this head-on. This year she can just enjoy the holiday without worrying about metaphysical things, like, what happens when the Reindeer have to go? And why does Santa eat the cookies but leave the carrot sticks for the Reindeer? Is he starving his animals? And was Tim Allen more than just a little creepy in the fat suit and beard?

In the meantime, does anyone know a good recipe for egg nog?

1 comment:

Kitty said...

I told my boy the truth of it - that Santa came from St. Nicholas (I think that's how you spell it) who use to give out food and small toys to the poor in upper Europe.

Boy was happy enough with the explanation - parents on the other hand, gave me a blank look.

Two birds with one stone ;-)