I wasn't always a practicing Jew. (That happened after I married one.) I grew up with Santa Claus. And the Easter Bunny. And egg hunts and elves and caroling and ginger bread houses and "Twas a Night Before Christmas" read to me before bed. And letters to Santa's elves who visited every year and who I named Trixie and Dixie and sent back with Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. And then cried because I hated to see them go.
I believed in the jolly old elf until I was seven-years-old. And then that bitch Katie Assholenose made me look like a complete idiot in second grade.
"Duh, Rebecca. You idiot. Santa is your mom and dad. Psh. What a dork."
"Psh. I knew that, okay. I've known since kindergarten so there!"
I was embarrassed. And angry. But most of all I was sad because I so wanted to believe. In fact I'm pretty sure I can trace the beginning of the end of my innocence to that winter day in 1988. That was the day I started to doubt. In fairies and elves and make-believe. I banished my imaginary friends soon after and realized that maybe my stuffed animals didn't have feelings. Or voices. Or dreams.
It was heartbreaking, but I digress-- I'm glad there was a Santa, once. I only wish I could have believed a little longer. Christmas wasn't the same after that. Nothing really was.
This is not going to be a worry for us as Archer will not have a Santa Claus. We will celebrate Hanukkah in our home. We will create new traditions. And just so Archer (me) won't be able to miss out on the Christmas tree, we'll be spending Christmas at my parent's house. So he (we) will have the best of both worlds, much like I did growing up celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah. Passover and Easter.
And although there will be no Santa or Easter Bunny, there OH-SO-WILL-BE a Tooth Fairy. Because magic is important, even though it ends. Sometimes abruptly. Because believing in something that isn't real is what children do and adults if we are lucky. And yet its a tough one because essentially, it's kind of like lying to our kids and for what? The magic. The magic. Because maybe WE want to believe in something. Maybe, as adults, part of the joy in having children of our own is being able to find it again. That magic. Because it's special.
A while back one of my readers (Hi Mrs. Q!) asked that I opened up a discussion about Santa Claus in the comments of this post
Her comment read as followed:
...My sister-in-law announced years ago that she would not LIE to her children (now 7 and 9) about Santa/Tooth Fairy/Easter Bunny/Mickey Mouse at Disneyland, etc. Her thought is, that if her children can’t depend on her for the truth about these things, what is to say they will trust her on anything else? (She had a very bad experience with Santa and her parents, by the way).
Now that our man is 17 mo., and there are now many other young kids in our extended family, we're all not quite sure how to deal with our niece and nephew who think that we are in fact LYING to our own kids and don't really care if they debunk the myth...
I’m at my wits end arguing my point, which is ultimately, as parents, we do whatever we choose and think is right, but at the same time, respect what others teach their own children. It’s called tolerance. To us, Santa is magic, and like all magic, kids eventually figure out that there's a secret behind it.
A great many of you had opinions and great points on the subject of "hiding the truth" and "where do we draw the line between lies and and make-believe."
Santa is a toughie, a perfect paradoxical symbol of youth and belief and growing up. As a parent, I have pledged to be honest with Archer. To be open with him about the world. To educate him. To hold the flashlight and to help him understand the scary and often confusing aspects of life. Reality. But at the same time, I want him to trust in his imagination. And in storytelling. And the power of belief. Of faith. Even if its ephemeral. A conundrum? I think paradox is a better word because I don't think believing in Santa opposes knowing the truth.
And on behalf of Mrs. Q, I would like to turn to all of you for your insight on the matter. Do you believe in Santa for your kids? Why or why not? Thank you in advance for your perspective.
Addendum: Do you have a subject you would like discussed? I am happy to host any relevent discussions if you have a question/concern/ are looking for guidance. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Word.