I should probably preface my rant with an admission: I still receive an annual gift from Santa. More specifically, it is a wrapped delight I’d otherwise never get for myself but have coveted for months – years even – and it surfaces under the tree at momndad’s house from “Da + Ma Claus.” Yes, I know it’s something lovingly acquired through some extra saving efforts of my parents, but it’s been treasured long since Santa and the elves became folklore instead of fact.
As for my own children, the Santa tradition has continued. When Chi was old enough to unwrap her own presents (just after her first birthday), Santa paid her a visit. The following year, she helped pick out a Santa snack and left it near our tree. She’s scurried around searching for something to give him a break from his annual deliveries every year since.
It was only natural for Ya to join in the tradition – making his wish list, helping Chi select a Santa repose. And he’s enjoyed celebrating the mystique of this bearded gift giver for three short years.
But this year, a somewhat jaded brother decided to offer Santa and his magical visits with the reindeer a repose of another kind. I am not amused. I am not happy. It was not okay.
Chi was certainly phasing out of the hard core Santa is coming to town cheer squad. It’s neither cool to talk about Santa in fifth grade nor wise to express disbelief should he be real and hear. When he “couldn’t find us” two years ago (when Ya’s grandfather suffered a massive heart attack and we spent our break in family vigil between two states), she became suspect of the jolly old man. Was she a naughty girl? If so, she didn’t know what tremendously bad thing she’d done that hadn’t been forgiven on Christmas morning. She grew temporarily skeptical, but resumed her Dear Santa list last year and was beyond excited to see him honor her request.
There is sort of a rule for all older siblings: do not squash the simple pleasures – the little innocences – of your younger charges. I was the oldest, and though it might’ve given me some sadistic pleasure to throw a dose of reality on my two younger brothers, I had an obligation to protect their beliefs. So I kept quiet when the Easter Bunny became a haunting phantasm at my door, glowing ominously as he peeked in at me and looking nothing like the egg-and-treat-toting happy white bunny smiling in the photos or the little lop-earred bunnies brought in for special event Easter photos. I waited anxiously to see the Tooth Fairy scores as each lost baby tooth after baby tooth while all of mine were already “adult.”
I expected Chi to do no less, and Rico has done me proud in quietly observing the traditions of our little family as he’s assimilated into it.
Was there anything wrong in preserving the magic of Christmas morning for a little longer – - especially now that Cinco is here?
It’s not about religion. My children know full well that Christmas celebrates Jesus’s birthday, that Easter is to reflect on His sacrifice for our sins and His ressurection. I’ve no anti-Christian goal in holding onto Saint Nicholas or any of the other “guardians.” In this scary world, where unstable people acquire guns and open fire on innocents – where babies are stolen, tortured, abused, or killed – I’d like to offer my children a sanctuary. Life in this house may not be perfect, and we may not “have enough” to splurge on the daily I wants, BUT we can make the holidays a little more special than the every days. We can offer love, acceptance, trust, forgiveness, guidance, hugs, kisses, and even adventure.
So for those who cling tenaciously to the belief in Mr. Claus, there’ll be a little present under the tree. And for those who share in the excitment of discovery on Christmas morning, there’ll probably be something special, too. We’re still lining the walk with reindeer feed, and still leaving juice and cookies for the big guy. I’m insisting on it.
“I don’t care if I’m 250; I’m still going to sleep for Santa!