Monday, November 16, 2009

Mr. Claus and my Mainstream Christmas Magic

Since I've already gotten requests for "ideas for what to get the kids this year," and the neighbors have already busted out their plastic nativity scenes, I decided it's high time for me to dig up this old email I wrote to a group list I was on a few years ago when the question of how to handle Santa came up. Here it is, (now slightly edited for clarity) circa 2005, I think. . .


The idea of Santa as a "deception" was a new one to me when I first came across it on an internet website a few years ago. That way of looking at it didn't "resonate" with me but I spent time thinking and talking about it, and Ezra was a baby at the time, so I figured I had a while.

I always loved having Santa as a child and I was probably the last child to give up all hope. I was still clinging to the 1% chance that he could be real when my third grade teacher prefaced a lecture by saying, "You guys are all too old to believe in Santa, right?" and everyone laughed. (Except me!) but I wasn't the least bit angry with my parents - I was just sad that the world was not as magical as I had wanted it to be.

In any case, I was wondering why my sisters and I never felt "deceived," and then a friend of mine lent me a book called Joyful Parenting which had a chapter about Christmas. That chapter explained exactly how I remember Santa being handled in my family - like a *game*. I think that is why I have no issues about it. . . Nobody ever outright lied to me about anything. My dad, especially, would say things like, "Geez, those must be Santa's ashy footprints there on the carpet by the fireplace!" etc. - it was all very playful.

Also my parents never told me that those Santas at shopping malls, etc. were real, like many parents do. They would tell me they were just people pretending to be Santa or something like, "Those must just be Santa's helpers."

As it happens, my husband is Jewish, and the first year we were married he demanded that we have no tree and he even refused to let me listen to Christmas music while he was around. He has gradually softened, and this year Ezra was three and a half, and my husband suddenly did a 180 and became obsessed with all things Christmas. He decided he really wanted to have Santa for his son because he only got to have Santa as a child for *one* year, after he begged his mother to allow it. (Note: he grew up in Minneapolis where Jews are scarce, so he was one of the only kids who didn't get visited by Santa). And the next year his mom told him there was no Santa, and he was devastated. To this day he still harasses her for "ruining Santa for him" - he really wanted a magical childhood, too.

(Speaking of magical, I also feel good about doing Santa because of my ties to the Waldorf community and also because of reading Magical Child, by Joseph Chilton Pearce.)

Also, at our house Santa has always used plain colored tissue paper, and we are trying to do simple gifts that are wooden or look handmade (so no "Made in China" stickers on the bottom!) My friend Mary also told me that with her kids, they wrap glitter up in all the presents from Santa, and it falls out like "fairy dust" as the gifts are opened. I love that idea!

(I am, however, totally against the "You only get presents if you're good" threat. (A.K.A. "you'd better watch out, you'd better not cry.")). (Where do the periods go in that sentence?)

I should also add that the "game" of Santa in my family never stopped. We did it all through my teens and 20s and we got gifts for my dad, too, and we'd always say things like "Hey, how did Santa's elves get a framed photo of me at graduation?" or "Hmmm. . . I guess Santa was shopping in Norway this year, too - just like YOU, Dad!" Maybe we're just dorks, but it's fun.

As far as Christmas being too mainstream, I just do what I can to make it how I like it, and I concentrate on rebelling against society in ways that don't have to do with anybody's joy.


Thank God I was able to unearth that. . . I'm much too lazy to write about it all over again now!

I suppose I could add, though, that now that Ezra is 6-1/2, we do a lot more of saying things like, "Hmmm. . . I don't know. What do you think?"


  1. What a lovely post. Yes, I wish we had done Santa. I think there is a playful way to do it that is not a lie or a betrayal. Alas, before we even had kids or encountered much Waldorf philosophy, my husband and I decided we always wanted to tell the truth no matter what to the kids, and we nixed pretending Santa was real, though we do read stories about Santa and such. Maybe scientist fathers are especially skeptical of the Santa myth? I don't know. In any case, it's a decision I now regret and wish I could go back and change. Ah, well. It is what it is.

  2. Thanks for the compliment!

    Something that is interesting to me about lying/deceiving is that my beliefs have changed so much over my lifetime, that the things I would have told my kids were true when I was in my 20s, I now would have to un-teach them if I had had kids back then.

    For example, now that I'm learning so much more about shamanism, dreams, the oneness of the universe, transformational/spiritual psychology, etc., I wonder if all of us are not deceiving our kids every time we open our mouths!

    I'm hoping by the time Santa wears off, I'll have some much more exciting "real" magical knowledge to replace it with.

    Maybe you should just read Bridger "The Holographic Universe" instead of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas." That ought to make up for it.