Tuesday, December 03, 2013

To Raise Children With Santa Claus Or Not

I come from a different side of this discussion than many of you. My mother decided to raise me right off the bat with "Santa is pretend". So I grew up still playing the games, watching the Christmas movies, listening to the stories, watching Santa being tracked on a ballistic missile RADAR on AFRTS (A-farts) and so on. I still sat on Santa's lap and gave him my wishlist, and still got presents labeled "From: Santa" on them.

Being raised this way from the start led to a few challenges. One year, I think I was about 5, my dad took me to work. My dad was a Combat Arms Instructor in the Air Force. His supervisor at the time was a Master Sergeant (title only; this asshat was a master of nothing but losing at life). This guy asked me some question or other about Santa, to which I replied something like "Santa is pretend". Next thing you know, this guy goes all Gunnery Sergeant Hartman on me, basically demanding that I sound off that Santa is real. I refused. I was in tears. I had no idea what I did to make this asshole scream at me, but I wasn't going to back down.

My dad told me later in life he was proud of me for standing my ground. I told him I wasn't proud of him for standing there and letting me take it on my own. I think one of the other guys in the shop intervened instead. Were it my children, military supervisor or not, I would have told the small minded asshole to back down and leave my children alone and I would have assumed a fighting pose if that's what it took.

As far as I remember, I did have all the same fun as everybody else with the concept of Santa. The only difference is, I never had to go through the disillusionment of being told he's not real. I've had people tell me they figured it out long before their parents had the talk with them, but had to fake it for a couple of years. That doesn't sound like fun to me. It seems twisted.

Some people say the look on children's faces is why they have to perpetuate this. But look at all the factors of Christmas from a child's eyes: being woken up, led to the living room, seeing the tree all lit up with tons of presents under it, hot chocolate, special breakfast, etc. If the whole Santa thing were missing, would it change the child's wonder on Christmas morning? I don't think so.

I tried to raise my children the same way, which pissed my ex wife off. As far as I know, she complied.

If I end up having more children, I'll still try to do the same thing.

I don't see the whole Santa myth as that big a deal. I'm fine with it being there, but I don't see the need to elevate it for children to the status of a religion you're just going to have to crush later. That seems cruel to me.
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