Saturday, December 13, 2008

No, Virginia. Now Grow Up

About 4 years ago, when my sisters kids were 4 5 and 7 years old, I told them to tell all their little friends that Santa isn't real. But my sister and her husband had already told them that's being mean. And their kids are too nice to follow the advice of such a heartless bastard as their uncle.

No I'm not saying that we need to shatter kid's illusions. We allow them to believe that Social Security will still be there for them when they retire. But when those illusions are created and protected by their parents— well I judge the parents.

Every year around this time I am utterly grateful to my mother and father for never having lied to me about Santa Claus. It's really one of the saddest temporary religions out there.
I'll never understand it. It doesn't help Christmas. It's just a way to focus on getting gifts without giving them. 'Hey kids! You'll never have to give anybody anything. There's a magic guy that'll do it for you. Unless you're bad. So be good for the sake of a tangible reward!'

Images from here


The Ridger, FCD said...

Hmm. I don't agree, but possibly that's because we did give people presents when we were kids - not great presents, but commensurate with our ability to make something or our allowance. Santa was never a substitute for that.

Though we did know that Santa wasn't going to bring us a pony or something huge and expensive. So I'm sure how much belief we actually had.

fenhopper said...

yeah i could probably stand to calm down about this one.

Casey said...

Yeah -- booo, hissss.

I actually think the structure of the Santa Claus story isn't too bad, even if it's a little rudimentary.

Consider how difficult it is/would be to explain "G-d" to a child. And yet, they might be able to understand by way of a parable... and isn't that what Santa is? That way, the "structure" in their brain begins to develop -- and although they'll throw all the specifics (the words) out by the time their twelve, that structure in their brain will remain. They'll move on to talking about G-d as an omniscient ever-watching father figure -- and most of them will make the shift very smoothly, not even realizing that they're working in the same chunk of brain-matter.

The problem is, they think that the G-d-as-father image isn't a parable because they haven't read the Gospel of Philip. As I've written somewhere before, more or less: "In the beginning was the underlying structure..."

Ever hear Buddha's parable about using a raft to get to the other side of the river? -- once you've crossed the river, you don't continue carrying the raft on your head. You let it go...

Santa's a means. So is the Bible. So, of course, was Buddha.

The Ridger, FCD said...

Casey's point is a good one for disliking the Santa story, though lots of people do in fact realize that the nonexistence of Santa is a parallel, too...

fenhopper said...

"and yet, they might be able to understand by way of a parable."

and yet the parents i'm judging teach no parable and get upset at the idea of their child knowing the truth that they themselves know.

this is fine if you somehow see some great value to the belief. and that's what i don't see. any great value.

now -- without judging those who see this differently from me: i think santa and his circumstance is silly. laughable. i don't see the importance. i don't see what it does for kids and i don't see what gap it would leave.

here then is where i will focus my criticism. not on those who give their kids this story, but those who think i will unfairly deprive my kids of something when i don't. those who respond with "how can you not give them that?"

i love that i never believed in it. and still xmas was a 'magical' time for me because of my family. i really value my informed appreciation for the season.

i really don't think anyone who believed in santa claus had a heads up on any understanding of any structure.

you were just wrong about something for no reason casey.

repent. and believe no more.

Casey said...

Maybe you're right. Maybe I'm always dabbling in shaky metaphysics and doubting my own premises for this very reason!

That said, I think my defense of Santa would've help up rather nicely in court... if showing a young child the attractive force of a magnet works to give him some idea of how romantic love "works," then what's the harm in it? That's how I see Santa -- something that kids can grasp to lay the groundwork for something they can't.

But now that I've typed that, it doesn't sound so good. I think you're right -- (un?)fortunately, Gretchen will hear no arguments about not doing the Santa thing with our future babies.