So I broke my own rule this year.
If you’re new here and too lazy to go read those posts, because I totally sympathize with anyone who has the lazy virus (yes, I made it up, but I also think it’s a real thing — upcoming post on that later), in short I explain that I hate Santa. Not really, but I don’t tell my son that Santa is real, Santa doesn’t bring him presents, there is no magic on Christmas other than the real magic of love and family and Momma finding ways to pull money out of thin air because she goes way too overboard with gift-giving.
At least, that’s how it used to be. Until that jolly old bastard forced his way into my life.
I have never, not once, not ever, encouraged a belief in Santa. But that bitch is everywhere. Every time anyone talks to my son, they ask him if he’s excited for Santa to bring him presents. They ask him what he wants from Santa. They tell him he better be good or Santa won’t come. They lie, because Santa ain’t bringing shit and Momma is going to get Holden way too many presents no matter how bad he is because she’s a sucker. So I tried not to lie.
I tried not to lie not only for my own selfish reasons (I wanted the credit, I didn’t feel like dealing with my son’s devastation when he found out the truth, etc.) but for the world. I don’t like the concept of Santa for many reasons, but some of them are kind-hearted. I don’t like the concept of Santa because what happens when one kid gets the pony he asked for but another doesn’t even get the pair of socks she wanted? Is Santa mad at her? What happens when rich parents buy their daughter a whole room’s worth of presents but poor parents can’t even afford to give their son a decent meal? Did Santa forget about him? What happens when the really bad kids get all sorts of stuff but the super sweet and kind children get little to nothing? I’ll tell you what happens — the super sweet and kind kids think they weren’t sweet and kind enough and become broken, while the really bad kids realize that they can get away with whatever the hell they want, because Santa is a pushover.
I know there are a lot of systems in place to make sure some of those things don’t happen. Toy drives and food banks and the like. And that’s wonderful, and I’ll talk more about that in a moment. But, what happens when a child’s world is turned so upside down that they don’t want toys or clothes or food? What if they want their sick mother to get better, or their deceased father to come back, or for their brother to stop coming into their room at night, or to have a home bigger than a cardboard box? What does Santa do then? There are some pretty amazing people in the world who have just the right thing to say to these kids to restore their hope, but sadly not every child gets paired up with such a person. Sometimes, kids won’t even tell an adult that these are their wishes so no one even knows, but Santa knows because they wrote a letter to the North Pole. I just think that “Santa” should be more realistic, more attainable. I don’t know how Saint Nick turned into a fat man in a red suit shimmying down chimneys to leave everyone a puppy, but what if Santa was more of an idea than an actual person?
Instead of having that image in their heads, we could tell children that Santa was a helping hand. A kind stranger. A welcomed friend. That family member who took you in for the night so you could have a home-cooked meal and a roof over your head, that’s Santa. That stranger who donated a toy so a needy child somewhere would have something to unwrap on Christmas, that’s Santa. The friend who gives you their kids’ old coats and shoes, that’s Santa. The teacher who takes extra time to really listen and speaks those words I talked about one paragraph up, that’s Santa. Anyone who keeps the hope alive, those people are the Santa I want my son to know about. It doesn’t have to be any less magical just because it’s real. Reality is filled with the best kind of magic, sometimes you just have to look a little harder to find it.
And I did find it this year, which is why my grinch heart grew ten sizes and I broke all the rules I just spent 800 words telling you about.
At first everything was going according to plan. My son and I had a little talk and I was like “You know Santa isn’t real, right? He’s just pretend. But you can’t tell anyone because some people think he’s real, so it’s a secret.” and my son was like “Yeah! Okay!” and everything was good. We went to a Christmas parade later that night with Holden’s best friend and her parents and Santa was there but we didn’t feel like waiting in the ridiculously long line to meet him so while the adults were discussing it Holden mentioned that Santa was just pretend and that Mommy got all his presents and I had to remind him that he had to be quiet about it because Sylvia didn’t know about the secret but thankfully she was far enough away that she didn’t hear anything.
Then the next day I was telling Jack about how proud I was that Holden was so cool with the whole thing, but Jack doesn’t agree with me and wants Holden to believe so he wasn’t convinced and called Holden over to ask him if Santa was real or not. Holden said he was. I was confused. I asked him a few things and did a Homer Simpson’s “Doh!” (which pretty much means I’m so stupid for those of you who have lived on Pluto for the past 20 years) when it became very obvious that there was no way for me to have kept it real. In an above statement I said “that bitch is everywhere” and I was not lying. There are Santa decorations on people’s houses and in stores. There are Santa shows and movies on TV. That fucking elf (which I will have no part of, even if does make me a horrible parent and destroy my son’s sense of wonder) is even in his school, which I think is horrible because what about the other religions? But that can be addressed later. In the end, I came to the conclusion that he really wanted to believe in Santa, so I decided not to be that asshole parent who fights with her kid over his imagination. I decided to let him believe.
I’ve still never uttered the words “Santa is real” and if Holden ever asks me I’m going to tell him the truth. And it was difficult to find some sort of middle ground where I don’t feel like I’m lying to my kid but I’m also letting him relish in these childhood moments that he obviously wants.
I didn’t find it. Over the next week I realized there was no way I couldn’t lie. There’s still a part of me that doesn’t like it, but we’re having fun so I guess it’s okay? I don’t know. I’m still torn. I guess I’m like Darth Vader (speaking of which, STAR WARS amirite?! I haven’t seen it yet but I plan to on Tuesday or Wednesday so SHUT YOUR WHORE MOUTHS about anything that happens), because he is good (and realistic) but then he turns to the Dark Side for a long time but he still holds on to some of the light for his son that makes its way through and saves everyone in the end. Except for himself. I hope I don’t have to sacrifice myself when it comes time to stop this charade. I’d be all “Holden, I am your mother. Santa is a ruse. Run child, save yourself!” because obviously all of the elves would be riding the reindeer and shooting candy canes at my Death Star’s hole. That much sugar isn’t good for anyone.
I’ve gotten way off course so let’s bring it back. We left off at Over the next week:
my son decided he wanted to write Santa a letter. So I helped him. He first asked for Santa to bring his friend Sylvia presents, then said he would like a “Transformer Optimus Prime that turns into a truck”. That’s when I knew I’d made the right decision. Because any kid who puts his friends first and only asks for one thing deserves to believe whatever they want. That’s also when I realized I’d have to make another trip to the toystore even though I had previously thought all my shopping was done.
Then my mom wanted to take Holden on The Santa Express, a train in my area that goes 45 minutes in one direction, makes about a 20 minute stop so you can explore, then goes back another 45 minutes in the other direction. Doesn’t sound too exciting but I forgot to mention that Santa himself, and some of his elves, are on the train. Plus it’s an old, cool train. Holden loves trains and Santa and elves and had never ridden a train before or met Santa (except for in those mall pictures I forced him to take) so it seemed pretty freaking perfect, actually. And according to my mother, it was.
Holden brought his letter and they sat in the Cafe car at actual tables in actual chairs and snacked and played with a Christmas Rubik’s cube (that I’ve since hidden because fuck those things). Then Santa and the elves walked down the train and met with, talked to, and spent time with every single person. It wasn’t a quick hi-hello-snap-a-shot-goodbye — “Holly” the elf came first and spent a good long while talking to Holden and waiting him out while his shyness subsided, then Santa sat down with him and read his letter and watched him coloring and talked to him about Christmas, and then my mom took a picture.
Holden got home and was very excited to tell me all about it. So, I think possibly being attacked by killer candy cane-wielding elves and their reindeer counterparts is worth it.
And over the next week he’d ask me if the elves were done making his present or if Santa had come yet and other various questions that were based on a lie, and I answered them all, according to the lie. (I did not, however, tell him that Santa wouldn’t bring his present if he was bad. I told him I’d beat him with a shoe and lock him in the closet.) (Just kidding, jeez. I told him that I would give his presents to someone else. Even though we all know I won’t. But he already knows I’m a sucker, I don’t want him thinking the same thing about this mythical creature of his.)
You’d think I’d be done by now, but I’m not.
Remember my last two posts talking about the James Garfield Miracle over on The Bloggess? It’s where people who are in need and people who want to make a difference all come together and make magic happen. See, there’s that real magic I was talking about before. The kind people who helped gift I-don’t-even-know-how-many children (and some adults and fur babies) are the real Santas. And the people who were gifted know that. There were so many praises to their “Santas”, “Secret Santas,” “Elves,” and “Angels” it was heartmelting. (That’s my new favorite term, by the way.)
I had originally gone there to tell Jenny (aka The Bloggess) how amazing she was and had hoped to purchase someone a small gift, spend maybe $20 or less. Then I realized my stepkids needed help so I asked for it. Then things turned around and I was blessed (for lack of a better term) to be able to get my stepchildren really cool gifts (not the main, big one they both wanted, but still awesome gifts nonetheless) and give back and help the tribe.
While searching through the lists to figure out exactly who to help and what to get them, I saw a woman post that her son had asked for a Flash costume, but he wasn’t expecting to receive it because “Santa can’t make superheroes”. I had to get it. Not only because it reminded me so much of my son, but because of that word — can’t. I wanted to scream from the rooftops “SANTA CAN DO ANYTHING” and I don’t even believe, or want my child to believe. Where was this coming from?
I got her son the costume and her daughter a poster and added a gift message — “Santa can do anything if you believe. So can Mommy. She’s the real superhero.”
So I broke my own rules. But my son is happy and I am happy and a bunch of other parents are happy and so many kids will be happy on Christmas morning. Love, guys. That’s what Christmas is about. And I love each and every one of you. So if you still believe in Santa, or insist on teaching your kids he’s real, that’s fine with me.