Monday, November 16, 2015

blind faith

With Christmas fast approaching and Elden at an age where he can comprehend the notion of Santa, Jon and I have been at somewhat of a crossroads deciding how to handle the aforementioned bearded wonder.

Growing up, Santa was a deeply magical thing for me. My school district had a cooperative where first graders would write letters to Santa and the creative writing classes at the high school would respond. One student was Santa and the other high schoolers would pick an elf to write on Santa's behalf. Pretty cool, right? Not for my mom. Most first graders got their response and were satisfied. I got my response and embarked on a 4-year journey of writing to Apollo Noel (my elf, if that wasn't clear) all. year. long. My mom had to do the heavy lifting and respond to every last letter. She even had to come up with a solution when I had the genius (not to toot my own horn but come on it was BRILLIANT) idea to send my little camera to Apollo Noel so that she could take pictures of the North Pole for me. (The solution was to tell me the North Pole was magical and wouldn't show up on film. Luckily my mom is an artist and was able to "draw a self portrait so you know what I [Apollo Noel] look like.") I had a blind faith that Santa and the whole gamut (Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc.) were real. Kids would tell me otherwise and I would be outraged at their disbelief as I had the facts! Santa would track ash from the fireplace all over our first floor! I conversed with an elf regularly! There would be reindeer prints outside our house Christmas morning! (Yes, my mom went through GREAT LENGTHS to make Christmas magical). Even when they finally told me the truth (I believed in Santa until right before Christmas in 5th grade) I didn't understand. To tell me, my mom read me a book about St. Nicholas and at the end... he died. Looking back I can't help but laugh at the comedy of the situation. By then she was sobbing and asked if I understood and I said, "yes, when he died Santa replaced him!" Suffice to say, she was mostly inconsolable and my dad had to do the dirty work and straight up tell me it had all been a lie. And to be honest (please don't be upset, mom!) I felt betrayed. I felt SO STUPID for believing so blindly for so long. And all my peers who I had told off! I quietly asked if the other fictional characters were real ("no.") Along with that I questioned God ("He's real!"). It was hard.

Jon, on the other hand, grew up being told Santa was real but my understanding is that around first grade  he put two and two together and figured out on his own that it was a farce. Suffice to say, he doesn't have any real longing to tell our kids about Santa.

I am so torn. Adult me is okay with being deceived because that time really was so magical and wonderful and I know why my parents did it. The biggest part, though, was the innocence. I can't turn on the tv now without being bombarded with the depravity and ugliness of the world. I live in a near constant state of fear for the well being of my children. I try so hard not to entertain the bad thoughts, but how is that even possible when society has made it its mission to destroy itself? I long for the days when my biggest concern was when I would hear from Apollo Noel next. But man... the betrayal I felt when I found out the truth. That hurt. So where is the line? I don't want to straight up lie to my kid, but he is pretty smart and wants to know everything. 

For now we are treading the waters lightly. We have told him about Santa but I don't plan on going to the great lengths my parents did. My hope is he won't straight up ask if Santa is real for a few years because Jon and I have mostly decided we will answer that question truthfully.
For now, seeing the wonder in Elden's eyes when he saw mall Santa ("is he really breathing!?" - dodged a bullet on that one) was enough. 

1 comment:

  1. When I was a kid, my mother was still finding her faith, and, as such, we dabbled in pretty much every religion you've heard of. Christmas" was incidental for my mother, regardless of her flavor of faith. As a christian, she believed Santa Claus and gift-giving were independent of the birth of Christ, and coincidentally close together on the American Calendar. The one constant was Santa Claus, or rather, Father Christmas. was always presented with the nordic/scandanavian image of him as being a sort of druidic elf thing. How my mother presented him to me is exactly how I expect I'll present him to Sonny:

    Father Christmas, an elf (as evidenced in The Night Before Christmas), is an agent of The Gods (or God, in your case). At the time of the winter solstice (it's on the 21st this year.), Father Christmas listens to the prayers of all the poor children who don't have families. He hears their prayers and sends them gifts to brighten their spirits and show them they are loved. (Explains everyone talking about gift-giving.) Why gifts? Why not something useful like clothes or food? Because it lifts one's spirits to once in a while receive a present that is simply pretty or silly or fun. It is good for the soul.

    We can help Father Christmas by showing love and kindness and kinship to those less fortunate than us. (Explains Salvation Army Santas).

    Questions I had as a kid:

    Why do we go get our picture taken with Santa? Because much like gift-giving, this activity is a fun way to celebrate the season and send the photo to your family - like school photos.

    Why are there so many Santas? They are all helping Father Christmas because there is so much work to do.

    Why don't the Santas look like Father Christmas (a druidic elf)? In America the look is adapted to our culture.

    BONUS: I was also raised with the Christmas Krampus. I want you to research that one on your own ^_^