Monday, December 11, 2006

Getting Jaded about Christimas

Seriously jaded. It has been a long time coming but it really seems to becoming to a head this year. This weekend while I was messing with putting multi-colored lights on a piece of plastic made to resemble an evergreen, I found myself asking what is the point of this? What does any of this have to do with Christmas? How does putting Darth Vader ornaments on a tree on the incarnation of Christ? How does decorating our house in snowmen give glory to the King that Christmas is suppose to celebrate?
I am also tired of Christmas music. Every time I get in the car with my wife, we have to listen to Christmas music. If I hear one more rendition of Jingle Bells, I'm seriously done. Have you ever noticed that the majority of Christmas music has nothing to do with the reason why Christmas exist in the first place? I have officially decided that the only Christmas music I truly like is the kind that appears in hymnals. (there are a few excpetions such as Little Drummer Boy, but I think you get the point).
I have nothing against the idea of exchanging gifts at Christmas. It creates a great family experiene, and giving and reciving gifts out of love is a great way to celebrate the best Gift of Love people have ever been given: Jesus. However, I hat the comercialism of it all. I know everyone complains about the Christmas comercials, but I am tired of seeing the stupid coke bears, I am tired of every comercial break having Santa Claus hawking some other consumer good.

Speaking of Santa Claus, I really found myself agreeing with this blog post twice removed. I got it from Ruke, who got it from someone else.

Anti-Santa Sentiments, or Bah! Humbug

So the boy and I were talking about Santa yesterday.

I may have mentioned this before, but I'll remind you in case you've forgotten: I HATE SANTA.

Why? Several reasons, mostly to do with where I believe the modern Santa originated, and what I believe he represents. Santa, the fat red-suited housebreaker, is a commercial creation. He exists to sell products, most of which we don't want, don't need, and can't afford. There's some talk of him being a creation of the Coca-Cola franchise, and while I'm not completely convinced he's the evil brainchild of just one company, there's no doubt in my mind that his existence is driven by corporate profit.

This is aside from my feelings about Christmas as a religious feast day. I recognise that cultures and religions overlap: and Christmas is a valid cultural celebration as well as a religious festival. I don't have issues with non-Christians celebrating Christmas: I think, at its core, it's a celebration of family, close and extended. You could argue that from a religious perspective as well, I think.

So. Santa. A commercial entity, whose sole existence centres around the "I want" of expensive gift giving.

Now that there's a child in the offing, all sorts of childish things that I'd moved on from are suddenly topics of conversation again. Christmas this year won't matter, obviously: baby is still in utero. Christmas next year is also not much of an issue: baby will be about 6 months old. The one after that, we might be answering questions about the fat dude in red. The one after that, definitely. So how are we going to respond?

I love my anti-Santa husband. I found, talking about it yesterday, that he feels much the same way I do. We're going to tell the truth. We'll explain who Santa is, what he's reputed to do - and that he's make believe.

I fully expect there will be people out there who tell us we're terrible, horrible parents for "destroying the magic of Christmas" or some other crapola. But I don't really care what other people think as a rule: particularly not where Santa is concerned. I look at it this way:
  • Why teach a kid something you have to re-teach them later? We plan to talk to our kids like people - no "moo-cows" or "sheepy-baas": "cows" and "sheep" are fine by us. That's what they are, after all: and why teach them a word they just have to re-learn later? Following that logic, why tell a kid something's real when you're going to have to explain later that it isn't?
  • I tend to think that kids have more reason to trust you if you don't tell them lies to begin with. Maybe your disappointment about the tooth-fairy hasn't left you indelibly scarred: but I bet you remember the way you felt when you realised your parents had been full of it all along. Disappointing, huh?
  • I'd rather tell my kids that "Mum and Dad got you presents because we love you", than have them think they fell out of the sky attached to a jolly cat-burgler.
  • And of course... if Santa represents a whole lot of values that I don't agree with, I've got no reason to want to instill those values directly or indirectly into my kids. If I want them to believe that Christmas is a time to celebrate with your family, to spend time together, and it's not about money: then why teach them about a person whose raison d'etre is to promote commercialism?
There are plenty of kids all over the world whose Christmas doesn't involve Santa. I've yet to see any pressing evidence that there's a Santa-shaped hole in their lives. I don't plan on being an arsehole about it all, either: if my kids want to play make-believe games about Santa, that's fine by me. They want a photo with Santa in the shopping centre? If we're passing by, then sure, why not? If they already know that Santa is make-believe, they'll be less disappointed when they see it's a different dude in costume each time (and will understand why Santa doesn't remember what they asked for yesterday). They want to write letters to Santa? Knock yourself out. I'm sure it will tickle them anyway.

I'm aware that Santa has tenuous connections to the European Sinterklaas. I might be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that Sinterklaas is a personage otherwise known as St Nicholas: whose feast day is December 6, not December 25. The historical St Nick and the legendary Sinterklaas were less concerned with enticing people to buy things, as with exchanging candies or homemade gifts - each accompanied by a poem. Sinterklaas is about cookies, not PlayStations. Our Western Santa has only the barest resemblance to Sinterklaas - he's a relatively modern construct, appearing only within the last century.

Of course plenty of parents like the Santa thing. If you had great memories of Santa as a kid, then you might want to share that with yours. But Santa was never a big deal in our house: and as an adult, I loathe the idea.

This house is, and remains, a SANTA-FREE ZONE. I think there's plenty of magic in the world without having to spin tales at Christmas.


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