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The Santa Conundrum

I have always found that the best way to get me to do something, is to tell me not to do it. And yes, the opposite also applies: tell me that I absolutely must do something, and chances are the first thought to pop into my head will be to throw on the brakes…and not the car emergency brake, which still allows me to drive around town like a champ, wondering why the car is being so hesitant. I mean a full-out stomp on the floor pedal. I consider myself to be a fairly self-aware individual and will readily admit to this flaw, though I hesitate to call it a flaw…especially since I have read that it absolutely is a flaw… Let’s just agree to call it a quirk (one that I am currently paying for in the form of genetic transference… Touché DNA, touché).

Anyhow, this is why I try to avoid any kind of article or piece that pretends to know who I am and what I must or must not do to be a good person (so I may as well turn off the computer, the television, and the phone nowadays, right?). Don’t get me wrong: I readily listen to and evaluate advice, and when politely asked to do something, I try my very best. My qualm is with the THIS IS WHAT YOU ARE DOING WRONG AND WHY YOU ARE RUINING EVERYONE’S LIFE articles and the IF YOU ARE NOT DOING THIS, YOUR ARE A HORRIBLE MOTHER…AND PERSON…AND WHY ARE YOU EVEN STILL BREATHING? pieces that fill up cyber space like those packing peanuts we jam around the important things we ship.

So…when I read one of the latest pieces on what I am doing wrong and what I ABSOLUTELY NEED TO DO about the whole Santa conundrum in order to be a good parent (ok…sometimes they are disguised as fun, happy articles and by the time I realize what I am reading, I am already starting to reevaluate my life choices. Damn you, internet), I thought to myself, really? Is it really so black and white? Am I really the only one sitting here in the gray zone and thinking that every kid is different and that no matter how hard we try, we only control our little part of a world equation that our kids will encounter? Heck! I may want my kid to believe in Santa until he is 20 years old, but nothing is going to stop that little five-year-old punk from walking up to him in Kindergarten and jamming a shiv into his holiday bubble. My only option after that is damage control.

I distinctly remember my own revelation about the big, jolly, bearded guy. I was in the fourth grade and had asked for the Breyer Arabian Horse family. It was really the only thing I desired and would therefore blurt out to any Santa I encountered. Of course, I had heard rumblings about Father Christmas being less than real, but I had chosen to push them out of my mind. Well, a certain brother, who will remain anonymous (I only have two…so it’s a 50/50 guess for anyone who does not actually know my brothers), convinced me to help him look for our presents while my parents were not home. There they were…that happy equine family…staring up at me through the cellophane window of their box, deep in my parents’ closet. I was hit by some pretty deep emotions for a nine-year-old. Had I just single-handedly ruined my own Christmas? I was still so very happy to play with them on Christmas morning, yet at the same time crushed to read that they were a gift from Santa. One thing I did not feel was any of that anger I read about kids feeling because their parents lied to them all those years… I was angry, but I was angry at myself. After that I chose to believe and to then become a part of the magic for those younger than myself.

I now find myself with two teenaged girls and a nine-year-old. We are a Santa family. I know that the girls are old enough to know what’s going on and that Little Man is teetering… desperately trying to hold on to the magic. The kid pasted pictures and descriptions of all the…what My Sun likes to lovingly call “nerd toys”… that he would love to see under the tree into a notebook that he then brought with him to show Santa (as I nervously glanced at the line of kids behind us…and suggested that maybe he leave it next to the cookies on Christmas Eve). I don’t know how other families choose to do it and it really is not my business, even when it means that they might tell my kids something I would rather they not hear. Of course, it is annoying…maddening even…when it happens, but I know that I am not raising my children in a bubble and that they will have to grow some thick skin to survive out in the real world. It is all a part of growing up, and there will be much bigger challenges than this in their futures. As long as they understand that if they ever do that to some other kid, they’ll be looking at a dump truck full of coal.

I am comfortable with my own choices for my own kids. We have a simple saying in my house: He who does not believe, does not receive. In other words, you can choose to continue the magic and get gifts from Santa (which may or may not be a set of towels this year for those teenaged girls who keep getting make-up stains all over mine…) or opt out. Santa only brings one gift per child at our place, anyway (and some stocking stuffers…mainly the ones that I forget, or am too knackered to label on Christmas Eve), so it would not make a huge difference. Anyhow, I know that My Moon and My Sun mostly choose to believe for the sake of Little Man, which makes my heart smile.

So…if you started reading this hoping to find some sort of solution to the Santa Conundrum, I am sorry to disappoint. I have no answers. My only advice would be to raise your children to be respectful of other families’ beliefs and to teach them that there is more than one way to do things. Follow your heart. You know your children much better than I do…

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