This is not a post about whether tis nobler in the mind to say “Merry Christmas”, “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Hanuka”. I’m going to assume that if you’ve made it here that you have a half a brain and don’t need some idiot on the Internet to tell you already know: There is no war on Christmas, there are just some people in the world who don’t know how to refrain from being assholes.
This post is also being written in the heat of summer, so this isn’t me getting an early start on a campaign to cancel Christmas.
What this post IS about though is a coming of age. It’s about lies and cover ups. It’s about right and wrong. It’s about the forces of magic and imagination versus the forces of consumerism and the hard truth of reality.
It’s about Santa Claus.
Somehow, our son has made it to the age of 11 years old while still believing in Santa Claus. I don’t know how this happened. I thank/blame the parents of his peers for raising well adjusted little angels who chose not to burst my son’s bubble.
I may also be partly to blame. When my son was younger, maybe 3 years old let’s say, it was hard to get him to eat at restaurants. For one thing, he’s a picky eater. So we usually only took him to Pizza Hut. But in addition to limiting our options he would often not eat or be ridiculously slow to eat. So one day I clued into an idea.
I spread my napkin on the table, held one hand over it and stealthily blew onto the table to make it move. Three year old Owen was delighted. I did this several times then told him to give it a whirl, he held his hands over it and I blew just enough to make it wiggle a bit.
“Oh, you must not have enough energy to make it go!”, I lied straight to his innocent little face, “Take a bite of pizza and try again.”
And he did. He remained convinced that he could do this for YEARS! We even went to Pizza Hut once with a couple of his friends and managed to convince them! He was 8 when I finally fessed up. I thought that it was only a matter of time before he went out to a restaurant without me and said: “WTF! This totally works when I’m with my Dad…”
He wasn’t mad when he found out, just disappointed that he didn’t have Jedi-like powers.
So he has a history of us perpetuating whimsical tales (lies) about magical things.
But now this forces us into a dilemma:
Do we allow our son to go on, believing in Santa, only for him to innocently let slip one day in grade 12 that he’s asked for the iPhone 27x from Santa and be laughed at by his peers?
Or do we rip it off like a band-aid and tell him right now that there is nothing magical in the world (except of course when a vending machine gives you two for one), hoping that it will all resolve itself in therapy in the coming years?
Hmmm. Maybe somewhere in the middle then.
My own thoughts are that I would rather not send my child into junior high believing in Santa Claus. A lot of my parenting decisions have been made this way: Deadline parenting. We toilet trained him based on the idea that we did not want him to be the kid who poops himself in kindergarten. So we had a deadline. We taught him to tie his shoes before he got to grade 1 so that he wasn’t the kid who needed teacher to tie them for him at recess. Deadline.
So no Santa by Junior High, ok then. That gives us one more year of elementary school.
New dilemma: Do we tell him now, in the summer? Or do we wait until after one more Christmas? This is harder.