Sunday, December 22, 2013
The Guy in the Red Suit...
In our house, Santa comes to visit us on Christmas Eve. I honestly don't care what you do with your kids: whether he comes or doesn't, if he leaves coal, or candy. If he brings all of the gifts or just fills the stockings. It doesn't matter to me. And It doesn't matter to me if you chose to celebrate with him or without him. I firmly believe we all do what is best for us as parents and that we do what we think is best for our kids. What I do care about, is when your child tells mine that he's not real. You may think you are doing your child a favor by keeping your religious beliefs strong, or by telling them the truth about the man, but if your child believes that he isn't real and tells all the other kids at school, then what is the message you're sending? One of "My beliefs are more important"? One of "My truth is better than your truth"?
I know a lot of parents these days are removing him from their celebrations either for religious beliefs to be truthful to their children (some of my best friends don't celebrate with Santa, and we as parents have disclosed that we do or don't celebrate and have taught our children about different beliefs accordingly to be respectful of one another), but in our house, Santa is the symbol of the season. In our house, we celebrate Santa, probably for different reasons than you do, but for us, he brings joy to those around him, he gives hope to those who need it. He gives instead of gets, and he instills magic in our hearts.
This time of year the guy is everywhere, I mean, did you not get goose bumps when the Judge on Miracle on 34th Street declared that Kris Kringle was real? Did you sit and frown when Walter Hobbs finally started to sing in Elf and made Santa's sleigh fly? Have you seen the video of the airline that gave presents to all of it's passengers? COME ON! REALLY? You didn't tear up or even hope for one second that Santa was real?
These are just a few of the many reasons our family chooses to celebrate him and we set out to teach our boys that there is some good in the world, even if it's believing in something that isn't real. To understand that people are good, and we should practice goodwill towards all people, no matter what. And if Santa helps us teach those lessons, then we will use him.
Since Thanksgiving, our boys have seen Santa at a few places, and I have to admit, I LOVE their excitement when they see him. I like their reserve when they talk about the presents they wish to get, and I like their joy when they talk about gifts they'd like Santa to bring their brother, me or Eric. And, I get all mushy when they have gone through their toys and have offered up toys they no longer play with in hopes to give them to other kids who may not have as many toys.
Yes, I could just teach these things to my boys without the magic of Santa (and I do for 10 months out of the year), but I believe Santa has powers that help us realize the good and strengths within ourselves too. For example, last Christmas, two year old Henrik chose to give up his ba-ba (pacifier). He wanted to give his gigantic collection of ba-bas to Santa to give to baby Elves. And Henrik was completely fine without them once we returned home, because he knew that the Elves would have something to make them happy.
And this year, Henrik learned that Santa comes only when you are sleeping. Each and every book we've read about Santa, has the child sleeping in THEIR OWN BED, well, Henrik, who has been sleeping in our bed the last two months, is on a week straight of sleeping in HIS OWN BED so Santa can find him on Christmas Eve. Magic? Or just given the opportunity to see that he has control and power to do something amazing for himself, through Santa?
When I was a child, I remember finding out early on that Santa wasn't real. I have never told my parents this, but because my parents were divorced, I noticed quickly that Santa had different handwriting on the notes he left for us. I mentioned it and they both said that the elves probably wrote the letter because Santa was busy. I let it go. And the next year there wasn't a note from Santa. When I finally had enough courage to ask if Santa was real, I was told the truth. I remember crying, for a long time. I was mad, but not because they lied to me, that was never an issue, it was that there was no more magic, there was no miracle, and now, the holiday season seemed pointless. I remember being told that my sisters didn't know so I had to help keep the secret. And that's when I realized that my parents were asking me, to help BE Santa! It was a big deal and the magic was back. And you know what? It was more fun for me to help fill stockings and put out presents than it was to give them. I remember seeing my sisters' joy that first Christmas where I got to help, and I remember giving a smile to my parents as we watched my sisters open their new gifts. I had learned the lessons of truly doing something for someone else because it makes them happy.
And then you have this mother who wrote an amazing letter to her child when confronted with the question on whether or not Santa exists:
I don't know what I am going to do when my boys are old enough for the truth. Probably cry because the innocence of childhood will be gone. But, I remember my parents asking me if I thought he was real, and that was a hard question to answer. I wanted to say yes, but I knew they were the ones who put the presents under the tree. And now, as a parent, I am going to have to ask them the same questions, but maybe I'll change it to, "Do you want Santa to be real" because that's got a better, more clear answer. I think we all want Santa to be real. I think we all want to believe that people are just good at heart. I think we want to believe that people aren't greedy and want to give to those in need.
And, I think we all want the ability to see that we are brave enough, strong enough, and good enough to do things that make ourselves better, to do things for others, and even offer surprises to an unsuspecting person who needs a miracle of some kind. Santa the person isn't real, but the magic and hope he gives to children and adults everywhere can be powerful.
I'm not trying to change your mind on how you view Santa or how you handle him in your home. I am however trying to convey that we can all do different things this time of year that are valuable to us and our families, and that it's extremely important to respect that. The world is full of hate and discouraging comments from everywhere. This time of year is the time to be hopeful, reflective and open, no matter how you celebrate. And allowing people to celebrate in a way that is meaningful to them, is the best gift we can give to one another. That way, we can accept all of the wonderful differences in each of us that make us all unique individually, but powerful together.