13 December 2016

Why We Don't Do Santa Claus

Ramona is at the age where Santa is a hot topic and it's something I've discussed with a lot of my parent friends this year so I wanted to gather my thoughts in one place.

Ramona's relationship with Santa got off to a rocky start. She was about 10 months old around the time of her first Christmas, during the throes of the first wave of stranger danger. We foisted her on the very warm-looking Santa (we were in Austin) and now have some hilarious pictures of her and her baby friend screaming on Santa's lap.
"Get this the fuck off my head, Mom."
The next year we tried again, this time at Bronner's Christmas Wonderland. We waited almost an hour to see Santa. The end result was that Ramona screamed her face off when we put her on Santa's lap and the only way we ended up getting a picture was to have me hold her somewhat near Santa, but out of her line of sight.
These people are serious about Christmas. It looks like this all year. Photo Credit: Ken Lund

We moved to California at the end of 2014 and didn't have the opportunity to go back to Michigan. We did, however, consider going to a different Santa, but Ramona was old enough to remember how scared she was. Every time we walked by the Santa Hut at the local mall, she'd freak out a little bit. We finally decided to tell her that Santa wasn't real. It was something we were already leaning towards but it seemed like a good way to alleviate her fears.  

So why were we leaning towards it at all and why have we doubled down on it now that she has teachers and friends and other people she generally trusts tell her that Santa is real?

1. Santa has a social justice problem. We tell kids that if they're good they'll get presents from Santa. What about children from families who can't afford to give them a lavish Christmas? Are they not good too? Santa conflates wealth with goodness. Obviously it's not something you bring up when you tell kids about Santa, but that isn't a deep question, especially considering how competitive kids can get.

2. As much handwaving as you do, telling a child that Santa is real is still lying to them. We work so hard to teach children to be honest with us and each other. We tell kids that lying is wrong. But how do you reconcile this lie? And when they do figure it out or we have to tell them, then what? Either the kiddo figures it out and is upset that their parents and the people they trust have lied to them or they get to the age where you need to tell them and then it's crushing. Why start in the first place?
Probably what you think I look like
3. In the same vein, we've now had to have discussions with Ramona about how Santa isn't something she's allowed to talk to other kids about and if they ask her if Santa is real, she shouldn't say anything. So now I'm telling her to lie to other people. And while I understand the alternative here is to lie to her and tell her that Santa is real, I don't want to have to lie to her so other people can lie to their kids.

4. I've spent the past 12 years working really hard to be in the position I am right now. And now I'm supposed to give credit to some old white man for all the presents that I buy her? NOPE. NOPE. NOPE.

Smaller issues:

  • We tell kids to not trust strangers, but it's okay that Santa some how spies on them while they sleep and he knows what they do on a day-to-day basis. 
  • And then he commits the felony of breaking and entering. 
  • Also, Santa? Totally breaking the laws of thermodynamics

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