In Defense of Santa
I’m not one to tell people that they need to believe or practice what I practice, and I don’t even begin to think that the big guy in the red suit needs me heading up his defense team, but I really have to say that I don’t think there is anything so wrong or horrible about letting your kids believe in Santa.
Maybe it’s because being a blogger has exposed me to so many more opinions than those of my immediate circle of friends, but, up until this year, I had only known one couple who chose to not let their kids believe in Santa Claus. I can understand their reasoning behind it and it’s never caused us to not be friends so I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that just as there is nothing wrong with NOT believing in Santa, there is also nothing wrong WITH believing in Santa.
Yes, I believe that Christmas has been highly commercialized even since I was a little girl and I promise not to get into a biblical debate of the origin of Christmas, the birth of Christ, or even Winter Solstice (those are for another day, perhaps at The Guilty Parent)… No, my only concern right now is giving the man, legend, the myth, and for some the magic, that we call Santa Claus a little credit outside of his sleigh-riding and toy-making fame.
Santa Claus goes back about 1700 years, to an actual Turkish Bishop named Saint Nicholas, a man who used his wealth to help people who were poor or suffering. When he died on December 6th, people began celebrating his life with the giving of gifts. Fast forward 100 years and his celebration merged with the Pagan and Christian Holy Days to become what we now call Christmas. It wasn’t Santa’s fault he was merged with other celebrations. By the time the Dutch showed up in America, Saint Nicholas was already a much-celebrated icon.
I will agree that it’s hard to look at our modern celebrations and not see Santa Claus as commercialized and yes, I can even get why parents don’t want to feed their kids into that commercialization and therefore don’t celebrate Santa, but I’d be hard-pressed to find a person who doesn’t have a bit of Santa in them.
I view Santa much like the Saint he was when he was living: a man who used the good fortune that he had to help others. When I offer to take a friend’s children for an afternoon so she can get some housework in, or some errands, I feel a little like Saint Nick. Whether I’m helping a friend in need or putting my extra change into the kettle outside the grocery store, it’s a way to give.
When I buy the kids their presents and put “from Santa Claus” on the tag, it’s in the spirit of Saint Nicholas and his giving and kindness that I do it. I don’t want the credit, it matters little to me if the kids acknowledge or realize that it was really mom who stood in the stores and decided which color iPod they’d like best or if extra accessories were a must-have for Bionicles and Bakugan figures. I don’t care. I never care. It’s their smiles in the morning and the “OH MY GOSH!” or giggles and squeals that I hear that give me all the credit I will ever need.
I distinctly remember one year when I was a little girl. I got my first cassette deck (remember when you got yours?). It was also an FM radio, so I thought this was amazing. I cried. I really cried. I seriously doubt that my grandmothers, or my mom and dad, were sitting and stewing that they didn’t get the praise for that gift or the cassette tapes (Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits). Maybe it is wrong to let your children go on believing that a man dressed in red came into their home and left toys for them. If it is, it makes me a very guilty parent (yet, oddly, I feel no guilt or shame).
I guess I’m also one to believe that my children will one day forgive me for letting them think there is a Santa Claus. I know that I don’t harbor any hatred or feeling that I’d been duped towards my parents or grandparents for letting me believe. I’m actually glad for the magic. I’m hoping that one day my own kids will thank me for letting them believe in the magic too and teaching them all the ways they can spread the magic. I think our world loses more of that kind of magic every year; if this is one way to be certain that my kids know what magic feels like – I’m going to allow it.
For me Santa is about all that’s good with the Christmas holiday; not all that’s commercialized. Yes, I still think it's important to observe this season as holy and sacred as well. My point is that we all have a little Santa in us, and I think that any way we can celebrate, regardless of what we call it – is a good thing.