Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Great Santa Debate...

Personally, I've never been a big fan of Xmas - but kids naturally are... The excitement, the lollies, the sparkly stuff, the lollies, the holidays, the lollies ad nauseum. Which brings me to the Great Santa Debate - do you, or do you not, perpetrate the whole Santa myth? We don't in house for a variety of reasons - lying to your child, materialism of Xmas being about presents, the threat of "being good" for presents only and not for general contribution to niceness and wellbeing, not being churchy folks, a strange man coming into your house in the middle of the night... We developed our "Santa" answer fairly early on - that Santa is a tradition and represents Xmas which is about showing how much you love each other etc.

Does it work in the face of marketing, school, peer pressure, christmas carols, well-meaning adults, and general chaos of life? Not a chance.

Our daughter knows there isn't really a Santa (or pretty much insert make-belive kid's character - tooth fairy, easter bunny), but she believes in Santa. The classic recent quote was "Mum - you're a grown up so you are not allowed to belive in Santa Claus, but I'm a kid, and kids are meant to."

So on we go with 12 days to Xmas left... ho bloody ho.


Mousicles said...

I agree with you. Santa, the tooth fairy, the easter bunny etc were nice stories once but now they are a merchandising brands. Even santa's colours were invented by coca cola.

I will explain the stories, but presents come from real people and not fictional characters.

Anonymous said...

I still like to 'believe' that santa exists. it's not about the threat of no presents if your bad, it's about being getting presents that have no attachments or conditions to them. let's face it, as a child you don't care that your parents spent moeny on them. It's about being a kid and believing in made-up stuff and using your imagination.
I'm sorry, but to tell your child that santa doesn't exist is a bit mean. let them believe that a fat man does break into your and deliver presents. leave out biscuits and milk for him. or if you grew up in my house, port and chocolate.
let them believe that faireis live in the bottom of the garden, taht the easter bilbycomes and leaves chocolate droppings and that there is a roaring black market in teeth. get them to make up stories about what santa does the rest of the year. discuss why bilby droppings are yummy at easter.

It doesn't have to be about commercialism.

right, rant over for the day.

Anonymous said...

so, after discussing this issue with a few people, here are a few ways to make your christmas less 'commercial'

-take your child to buy a present for another child (we did the Target wishing tree) - when he gets older, I'll be explaining that this is a nice thing to do for those families out there that don't have a lot of money.

- light a candle in a church (no, i'm not religious either but it's a lovely symbolism) and think about people who can't be with us

- go and visit santa in one of his many places of business. it's all about the ginormous beard and twinkly blue eyes.

- go into town and look at the DJ's windows and go oohhh aahhh pretty. also look at all the other lovely decorations everywhere

- take a drive/walk around the streets and look at the fabulous tacky lengths that some people go to in decorating their house.

- make a santa sack or christmas stocking together.

- help your dad select the dark chocolate and port that dad, i mean santa, likes best.

- decorate the tree/s or just throw tinsel around and call it decorating.

- make your presents. I can't wait until torby come home with hideously fabulous macaroni covered jewellery box that was made in art class and gives it to me for christmas.

- make your own cards. different decorations for different people.

okay, I can't remember any more.
just pointing out the christmas doesn't have to be commercial if you don't want it to be.

Presents are always appreciated (i believe nescessary at christmas) but that doesn't mean they have to be big expensive ones. some of the best pressies I ever receieved have been small ones that someone has either made made or just though about.
Gifts are a way of saying, I have thought about you and you mean something to me.
Christmas is just a time of the year when it's convenient and less embarrasing to express this. It also makes us do it.
I don't think that that's all that terrible.
Yes, you are sometimes required to buy presents for people who aren't that close to you, but as long as it makes the other person happy, it surely can't be bad thing

And santa does exist.

Mousicles said...

Okay. I agree with what you say about letting kids have some magic and imagination. I'm like fairies at the bottom of the garden, or aliens that steal postboxes (reference to a comment made by Alex)... I'm just a bit wary of Christmas.

Christmas traditions, as you say, should not be about spending huge amounts of money. Making things together and going to see Christams windows and lights together is about sharing time with your child. We used to go to see the Myer windows on Christmas eve just before bedtime.

As with everything I've done in the last year, I have my personal hardnosed views, but when it comes to the crunch, what actually happens will be directed mostly by what the boy chooses to do. If he sees magic in the world, then I'm not going to shatter that.

fliss said...

Christmas means so many different things to different people. I have loathed Xmas since I was a small child due to family circumstances (one of mum's sisters died on Xmas day). There have been major family spats, tug-o-war between separated parents, a near death experience for another aunt, illness, more Xmases spent in the Westmead hospital blood bank tea room than i care to remember, car accidents - one fatal, one minor, other bits of minor chaos and general awfulness... So as you can see I am not that fond of the whole season and frankly heave a huge sigh of relief that we simply make it through unscathed each year.
I am simply amused that i am discounted by my daughter in the face of overwhelming opposition from the rest of society. I take it light heartedly when it comes to Xmas or the easter bunny, but it's really depressing in the face of body image or trying hard at school.
We have our own Xmas traditions - Tash gets to decorate the tree, the santa photo happens in spite of spousal disapproval, we put up Xmas lights this year as she loves seeing them on the houses and it's the things we do (school concert, dancing concert, carols) and the parties and people we see that make it Xmas.
Whilst I hate the commercialism it's not that big a deal as yet - give it a couple of years and I will be changing my tune.
I don't knock other people's views and happily go along with them - I won't shatter small people's world views any more than deliberately break a promise to them - just curious about people's views and why...

worldpeace and a speedboat said...

mmm, I was going to post that I think an adult's enjoyment of festive things and the way they decide to deal with their children over that time has a lot to do with their own experience with them as a child.

my own experience of Xmas and Easter was fabulous. I like the sparkliness of it all. I also really, really enjoy the pressies, but it's more about the hunt to find a fabulous thing for someone you love. I loved sitting on mum and dad's bed, or on the floor in the lounge room, and opening our pressies together. or having an egg hunt in the backyard. these memories are irreplacable. simple enough things, but highly treasured.

your children will have their own special memories of the times they spend with you. what will they be? how do you forge special memories?

we weren't a religious family, and as most of you knew my dad and know my mum, you'd know that they weren't/aren't very airy-fairy when it comes to magical things ;-) but they were very much into having a celebration and letting children be children, letting the world unfold slowly.

we were never particularly sucked into the crass commercialism, and we're still not. it's out there, it's uneccessary and tacky, but we ignore it and come January, it goes away (to be replaced by the Easter Bunny in February). I'll have a rant about it every now and then, but the upshot is, it's not a part of my celebration.

I don't have any particular memories of believing fervently in Santa or the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy. I don't have a particular memory of the revelation, or of being told by anyone, of them being 'not real'.

I do remember enjoying the excitement and the ritual (and children love a ritual, and knowing what happens when) and the specialness of festive times. I don't remember thinking it was 'magic', but rather that some things happened without an obvious cause - but they were good things, so why worry? enjoy!

we have a fabulous group of friends and family between us, and let's face it, in many ways all our children are cousins and will spend many more celebrations of many kinds together.

I hope all our children get to enjoy the good bits of Xmas and the new year. I hope that it's fun, it's magical, it's safe, and that they get to understand the broader meaning of love, compassion and kinship - with family and with people less fortunate. that is the best way of giving a deeper understanding the true spirit of any cause of celebration, religion or no religion.

as long as they get something special as well as sending a goat to the starving masses ;)

Mousicles said...

Now that I think about it, I think my dislike of the family Christmas didn't start until I was almost an adult.

My childhood christmases were all happy.

I think the problem is when my mum insisted on sticking to ancient christmas traditions when they are no longer desirable nor practical. Eg, massive overcatering when we are all trying to watch our weight or at least not eating ourselves sick... or continuing to sign christmas presents 'from Santa' when it is clear we've all outgrown it, ... or insisting that we all be present on christmas day when we have other family commitments or travel is prohibitive... buying expensive gifts when some members of the family can't really afford it. (I think I've vented just about all of it)

So while christmas traditions are special, I suppose my issue is, you have to be careful which traditions you cling to and be prepared to invent new ones as your circumstances change.

So DV, I must admit I do like Christmas, but mostly because I can share the day with good friends in a relaxed atmosphere.

worldpeace and a speedboat said...

agreed, Mouse, nice comment. happy traditions are the ones you keep, and let go of ones that are proven to be crap. and things like the Chrissie Pissie, and your Big Breakfast, become new traditions to add on.

except that we still have Santa pressies ;-) and pressies from the dog. and to the dog. and from the House. and to the House. yes, we're just plain silly round here...!

Wenchilada said...

I just got my sociology textbooks. They were my Christmas present to me from me.

Oh yay...

But seriously, Christmas is the fun bits. The exciting bits, the champagne and fruit, the sharing bits, the caring bits, the sparkley bits, the pretty lights the family & friends, the food, the grog, the game of cricket (or clay pidgeon shooting) and the big sleep.

Those are the best bits. The cranky pants bits don't rate, just for one day.

Mindy said...

I still remember the day that Anthony McFarlane told me that Santa didn't exist. I think the worst bit was my parents acting like it was no big deal. Fortunately I survived the experience and went on to tell my cousins the same thing some years later. Kids manage these things.

I don't think Charlie realises yet exactly what happens on Christmas morning so it will be interesting to see his reaction when he wakes up. Also he gets to play with all Gemma's pressies as well so he will be one happy boy.

I can't remember exactly, but I think I bought my step-father a round of immunisations for children in Africa and my Mum mosquito nets for a family somewhere, plus the little things they requested. It made me feel better about the whole commercialisation thingy.

I also thought I read somewhere that the Santa colours coming from Coke was a myth too, but I can't remember where I read it.