Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Holiday Season Is Upon Us

You wanna know how I know this? Because Ryan has already reminded the kid next door that Santa Claus is dead.

Fortunately (?), it was not quite the life-changing trauma it was last year when Ryan casually exploded this information bomb in my family room, but then again, the two boys didn't really get into the discussion too deeply. I redirected the conversation--not because I don't think Santa is dead or because I am anti-Santa and naturally I prefer to be upfront with these sorts of things particularly in my own house, but. But, but, but. Those two boys had been arguing about every single freaking possible thing since the minute they saw each other, we still had about an hour to go until my friend would be back to pick him up from my house, and plus it was this other kid's birthday. Talk about the potential for a debate with a good old-fashioned fistfight ending!

Later, I discussed it with Ryan. Yes, the legend of Santa Claus is based on one (maybe two?) probably historical guy and if in fact he did walk the earth he is most certainly pushing up daisies right at this particular moment.

"I know, Mom!" Because, you know, he Already. Knows. EVERYTHING. Durr.

So then I reminded him that sure, it's nice to pretend there is a Santa and remember the legend and I of course think it's kind of fun myself. But there are some people, most people, who like to pretend so hard that Santa is real and alive that they want to just believe it and nothing he says is going to change their mind about it until they are ready to change their mind about it. And in the meantime it's just another thing to argue about with his friend, and don't you two already argue and get sad with each other enough? (Answer: yes)

"Oh. I forgot about that part." Hey, at least he acknowledged that, right? I'll take it.

It's very difficult to explain to a child why adults would want to make their kids believe something is real when it's not. Even just typing it out in this here blog post is weird. So even though I skirted around that issue a bit with him, I fully expect him to catch on and pound me with questions. It's his way. Oh I can hear him now: Do grownups believe Santa is real? No? Just the kids? Why would the grownups tell the kids Santa is real when he's dead? I thought grownups were supposed to say what is true.

It's going to be a loooonnnnggg holiday season. Thank Zeus for The Great Pumpkin. At least he's real!


Deb said...

We approached the whole Santa issue with our kids as The Big Game of Make-Believe that older people play with little kids. Once each year, we get to be Santa, and playing this make-believe game gives us much joy and fun.

My girls have always loved to play make-believe anyway, so this was a natural extension of that. A make-believe game that gownups play! How enchanting! And once they learn The Secret, they can play the game too! So now each kid plays it with her sister, and her parents, and the parents do it with the kids, and we always have a marvelous time at the holidays pretending it all together. And it kind of emphasizes the "pretend" and "secret" aspect of it, so they don't go around blabbing about it to their friends. They never know which of their friends knows the secret, but it doesn't matter, because everyone is having a good time pretending. We have lots of non-Christian friends, though, both Jewish and atheist (and sometimes both at once!), so they're aware that families celebrate the holidays differently. That kind of cuts down on the number of people surrounding them who think Santa is real.

By the way, we wouldn't try to stop them from telling their friends the truth if they felt it was important that their friends know. That goes the same for gods, ghosts, and fairies as Santa. Never shrink from the truth!

Rational Jenn said...

I like that approach: Once a year, we get to BE Santa. I think we'll try it!

Ryan has never been a big Santa fan. I don't know if we really traumatized him that year we had the elves snap the picture of him screaming on Santa's lap or what. I do know that he eyes the fireplace suspiciously whenever we read The Night Before Christmas and got really worried last year that someone REAL (not dead like Santa!) might come into the house through the chimney. !!!!

The situation with the neighbors is interesting. I would never tell Ryan not to say what isn't true, but the day I wrote this post I had about had it up to my eyeballs in little boy arguments and I knew this would only end in tears! Also, our neighbors are very good friends, and nominally religious and very, very into Santa. Especially the part that if they don't behave then they won't get Christmas gifts. Of course, if they choose to lie to their child there's nothing I can do about it and I won't tell my kids Santa is real just because everyone else does it, but I did feel really badly for him last year when Ryan spilled the beans. He was so shocked.

I think *we* are the non-Christian friends that everyone seems to have, not the other way around! Look at us, spreading some diversity around!