Hey, Santa, how ‘bout you stop bringing my kids better gifts than me?
*** SPOILER ALERT – if you truly believe in Santa Claus read no further!!! ***
Since having our children, my wife and I do the same ridiculous thing to ourselves every Christmas. We let Santa the North Pole big man ‘bring’ our kids all the amazing gifts we bought for them that year. The exact toys they wanted, the expensive talking playthings with the flashing lights and the pull-able knobs, the stockings full of chocolate and gag gifts and handfuls of loose quarters. We stack all this gold into two piles by the tree and when they wake up Christmas morning, our children can’t believe that their white-bearded hero came through for them once again.
And then they open our gifts.
Socks and underwear, AA batteries and rubber boots, every year my wife and I end up giving our kids the steamed peas and carrots of Christmas Presents. And their forced thank-you’s and obligatory product interest have about as much excitement and sincerity as an NFL fan’s at a Sunday afternoon tea party.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
Why do my wife and I cause our eight- and five-year-olds to believe that their Yuletide happiness comes from a magical man? We have to go to elaborate lengths to keep this yearly fantasy real for them, despite what their school friends are now starting to tell them. Why did we ever buy into the Santa myth in the first place? The answer to these whys is the same answer I give whenever any personal whys are asked of me.
It’s because of my parents.
My Northern Ohio childhood Christmas’s were snowy and magical because my parents made sure their kids believed that magical things could happen. They so consistently and convincingly orchestrated four piles of Santa gold for us every year that there was no doubt in my mind that an overweight man could haul and deliver a world’s worth of booty in one sleigh in a single snowy night. In all fairness, my parents were also telling me that another guy could walk on water and raise the dead, so it wasn’t so crazy to believe that this other fellah who’s still alive could make this fantastical trip to my house.
Plus, his gifts were incredible.
When you’re overly focused on the booty, sometimes how you’ve received it becomes a secondary consideration, and that was the case for me with Santa. Who was I to question what was and wasn’t possible when solid evidence in the form of a new ten-speed and a Mr.Potato Head was sitting right there in front of me? For almost eleven years, my parents kept my faith in the impossible alive for me, so I do it for my own kids now.
Imagine if I didn’t.
What kind of childhood would they be having if Santa brought them pajamas and winter gloves because their parents wanted to be the ones to take credit for the Nintendo Wii? Of course, when you watch the viral video of excited children getting a Wii as a present it’s easy to understand why it’s so tempting to be on the receiving end of all that gratitude. (Link to Video) But that would mean letting them know that there’s really no such thing as magic, that impossible seeming things are actually pretty impossible, and when a kid finds all that out they tend to grow up way too quickly after that.
“The 12- to 14-year-olds of yesterday are the 10- to 12-‘s of today,” says Bruce Friend, a vice president of the kids’ cable channel Nickelodeon. The Nickelodeon-Yankelovicht Youth Monitor found that by the time they are 12, children describe themselves as “flirtatious, sexy, trendy, athletic, cool.” (Link to Article) Truthfully, I’m in no hurry to use the words ‘flirtatious’ and ‘my children’ in the same sentence and I’ll do everything I can to keep their ‘cool sexy train’ stuck right there in the station. And the way I see it, giving them an unbelievable white-bearded hero like Santa Claus to believe in is a great way to start.
I’ll remind myself of that when I’m wrapping up their t-shirts and sweaters.
- Mike Lukas
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