Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I buy myself presents

The box of four stemless wine glasses are a bargain at $6.99. They're an adequate replacement for the ones that got broken by a careless housemate, one by one, until only two of eight remain.

If only I could slip in them into the tiny cart, without the rebelangel spotting them.

The deal is, I buy myself presents to put under the tree on Christmas morning -- as if they came from Santa. The kiddo is convinced i've been a good girl this year, (though she says sadly that Daddy hasn't...) so it would be preposterous to imagine me not getting a present from the jolly old elf. This box of bargain stemless-ware is just right for the ruse -- but getting them into the cart is the tricky part. If i had a partner, they'd be the ones playing Santa for me, and vice versa. That's not the case now; though it's not the part of this little scene that gets me pontificating.

I spend a lot of time working on honesty and openness with my kid, yet here i am going so far as to buy presents for myself to maintain this myth of Santa. Why do we do this?

I've also spent a lot of time trying to deconstruct our holiday traditions -- trying to get past the consumerist angle of it all and honor the true spirit of these cultural celebrations. So how does Santa play into it?

He's a benevolent lover of children who spends all year crafting toys for them. He magically slips into the homes of every girl and boy on Christmas morning, that is, if they've been good while he's been watching. Seems sweet, but why does it feel just a bit wrong?

Last year i wrote about how great it was that Santa is around, because it helps keep my rebelangel in line. But this year, i'm starting to rethink that. Why should i let my daughter believe that someone other than me has to keep her in line? Or that someone other than me gives her gifts for the holiday? And if this season is all about "giving," why does she not have to give anything but cookies and milk in exchange for that pile of presents?

A blogger for the Vancouver Sun has been deconstructing our Santa ruse this week. He talks about how in other forms of magic or myth, children usually know they're pretending. With Santa, at some point they're aware of being duped all these years -- and that can be a tough pill to swallow.

But there's also the "spoiler" element to this whole thing. Who wants to be the parent of the kindergartener who spilled the beans to the rest of her class that Santa is a fake? And who wants to be the first to tell their kid that magic doesn't exist in the way they thought it did?

There's some powerful cultural pressure at work here, that's leading me to finger the wine glasses at TJ Maxx.

Sometimes, the most innocent and whimsical ideas take the most work to ponder. For now, i resolve to allow the ruse to continue. But if and when she asks whether Santa is real, i'm not going to lie.


Nadine said...

We have never lied to the kids about Santa. From the first year, we've felt torn about the whole thing though. We have never used Santa to bribe the kids either. I think Santa being able to see you like an omniscient god is intensely creepy. And the whole idea of "good" behavior in exchange for an external reward is counter to what my parenting heart feels is right.

We sound like psychiatrists when we answer the Santa question. "Well, do YOU think Santa is real?" Naia, in her usual way, decided Santa was just a cartoon character but sometime during the last year she changed her mind. Now she is convinced Santa is going to bring her a real puppy, and was worried he would forget to come to our house if we didn't visit him. Not wanting to be total bah humbuggers, we are letting her believe what she wants. It is going to be hard to deal with the disappointment when there's no puppy sitting under the tree though.

I don't think I need to construct a fantasy world of lies to keep the magic of the season alive. She believes in all sorts of mystical things that I did not plant in her mind. Even if I tell her that her stuffed animals are not alive, and the wind can't hear her talking...she thinks I'm the fool.

Bad Mummy said...

I'm so on board with this. I cannot stand the obnoxiousness of the holiday and its mascot, Santa. Hell, why does Santa get the credit when I'm the one hunting down the items on her wish list and getting them under the tree?

The Mook only recently turned 4, so I'm hoping that by next year she'll be asking some questions so I can broach the topic. However, her dad and his family go over the top with the holidays and I know my desire to be truthful about Santa will be met with real resistance.

I'd really like to switch to celebrating the solstice, with a focus on nature and caring for the earth. Maybe spend the holiday in the woods away from all that I find annoying - the consumerism, the gluttony, the stress, the logistics of gathering with family.