Here’s another ControverSunday post. What’s ControverSunday?
ControverSunday is a collaborative blog meme, whereby the goal is to share, discuss and hear out different perspectives on parenting, society and other stuff that matters. All those who participate bring to the table a unique perspective and approach others with mutual respect. Participating is a way to build community, to learn something and to reflect and evaluate our own choices.
Currently, ControverSunday is once a month. If you’d like to play along, check out Kathleen‘s blog – she’s the current host and will post the topic. Add your name in the comments to the topic-announcing post, and then write about the topic. Schedule your post to publish early in the day on the Sunday it’s due, and voila -you’re in. Back story and additional stuff: Our Lady of Perpetual Breadcrumbs is the founder, and here is the badge courtesy of Accidents:
Okay, got all that? Let’s begin.
How timely that the topic this month is CHRISTMAS! Oh Christmas.
First: I’m an atheist, so Christmas for me is not Christ’s birthday. It is a winter celebration of togetherness and peace and giving and yadda yadda. So, keep that in mind about this whole post.
I posted the other day that the older I get the more I like Christmas. The part I like is the part about how nice it is to cuddle up with my family, share in some delicious snacks and beverages, and stare happily at the pretty tree I decorated. I like hunting and crafting that perfect gift and I love seeing friends. I actually kind of enjoy Christmas cards, too – both the making part and the filling out and sending part (the getting part is pretty neat, too).
I do not like these things about Christmas: the chaotic mall, and the hour long search for parking, and the pushy people and the lineups and the BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY. A number of years ago, I resolved to not step foot in a mall past December 1st and I’d say I’ve been about 95% successful. I do my shopping as early as I can ( I start in June!) and I make a point of booking time for pedicures or massages during the busy season. I enjoy making homemade gifts.
I dislike the lists of gifts one *wants* rather than the lists of gifts one gives. I dislike the connection of Santa to want. I despise the way children are taught to believe that SANTA is the bringing of all materials things that are good. I abhor the fact that a child is marked as different or “refreshingly sweet” if they request things like “world peace” or “happiness” rather than Super Happy Fun Doll or Auto Transform Crazy Bots.
I wrote briefly about my hate on for Santa in 2008 and while ruminating on this ControverSunday topic, I had a re-read. Here’s a choice nugget:
As much as my critical thinking and skeptical side would like to inform Kale right from Christmas #1 that Santa is just an â€œideaâ€, perpetuated by everyone because wink wink nudge nudge itâ€™s about the spirit of Christmas and letâ€™s just keep this between us, okay? I realize that its going to be very, very difficult to carry this out, never mind the fact that I have already been informed that it would be a complete â€œshameâ€ if I â€œruinedâ€ Christmas for Kale so early. Because being honest about make-believe fat men who break into your house, wellâ€¦ I guess that makes me the most horrible parent in the world.
I need to clarify here that I don’t have some bad Christmas experience background that fuels this Santa Hate. My mom and dad gave me a fantastic childhood full of happy Christmases and great times. A lot of my Christmases were spent seeing both my mom and step dad, and my dad and step mom, and I remember many trips in the car up and down Vancouver Island to see various relatives. I think growing up in the 70s and 80s meant there was less commercialism that there is now (or at least I was shielded from it to a degree) – and at our house handmade presents were loved and well received. Ross too has great Christmas memories – in fact, he remembers his Dad used to call his cousins and pretend to be Santa and blow their minds with his insider knowledge.
And although I still have a hate/hate relationship with so many parts that make up this modern-day Christmas, I’m a little less caustic in my approach to Christmas and Santa now that we are entering the third Christmas in Kale’s little life. I still reject the whole idea that Santa=presents, but here’s the thing: my co-parent, who I love, respect, and cherish, wants Santa to be a part of our family’s Christmas Spirit. I’m not about to carte-blanche say “hells no” because parenting together means compromise. (Side commentary: there is nothing more enlightening that making the decision to have children with your partner and then learning about all the different approaches, opinions, and ideas you have that you were completely unaware of. Just sayin’.)
So here’s how we’re going to approach Christmas: Kale will always be taught that Christmas is a happy time, that it’s a way to celebrate winter and a good reason to see loved ones, give things from our heart (both material things and things like hugs and love), and bring happiness to others. We will encourage charity and doing nice things for other people because the doing makes you feel good. Christmas at our house *will* include a present from Santa – a single one, and certainly not the most sought after one as that honour should be reserved for Mommy and Daddy. Kale will be free to believe in Santa and when he starts to question it, we’ll respond with open ended questions like “Well, what do you think?” and nudge him to think critically about what the reality is versus what the myth is. And when he wraps his mind around it, and decides that Santa couldn’t possibly be real, we will congratulate him on figuring it out and encourage him to find ways to develop his own sense of “Christmas Spirit” so that he too is free to choose where he’s going to take Christmases when he’s a spouse/father/adult.