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Monday, December 10, 2012

275

He Doesn't Know If You've Been Bad or Good

Santa is at the mall. He poses with children. I have a child. She looks cute in red sweaters. Her parents are ambivalent about Santa. This is kind of where we are, right now?

1. Santa was a lot of fun, and it did not actually bum me out a lot when I found out, and I was damn near twenty.

2. Some kids do not get Christmas presents from Santa because their parents do not have any money, and then they go to school and other kids have presents from Santa.

3. A bunch of kids are Jewish. A bunch of kids are Muslim. Those kids generally still manage to have imaginations and the spirit of youthful vigor in their hearts, and are not immediately taken to the Lowell mills at the age of two.

4. If you decide NOT to do Santa, you are kind of just switching the burden of deception onto your kids, because people will go crazy on them if they do not play along with the others, which sometimes does involve flat-out lying, even though Santa may not be a "lie" per se.

5. WHAT is this Elf on the Shelf thing? It seems to have happened overnight, but now everyone seems to do it? Parallels include bikini waxing and casting Jessica Chastain, not that either of those things are necessarily un-good?

6. There's an internet now, so good luck with everything. It's not like olden times, when you had to write insipid letters to newspapers and get smarmy answers. Google: "santa real?"

7. How is this different from religion? I mean in terms of "oh, we don't do that, but you do you." That seems to work fine for religion, but gets super-controversial with Santa. Can you just say "what do YOU think?" incessantly?

8. A woman in a comment section once said: "I am not busting my ass working two jobs to afford presents and then giving credit to a made-up white man." Speaking of, do you just do one gift from Santa, or all of them from Santa?

9. If, in general, the entirety of your spiritual conviction is watching "The Muppet Christmas Carol" six times a year and then smiling beatifically at everyone you meet for the next week, will it all just take care of itself?

10. It must be really shitty for specifically non-Christian teachers to have to play along every year, especially when that part of the year begins at the end of October now, and especially if you teach kids at the cusp age for "waaaaaaait a minute," and especially if you're a little hungover and just want to explain about didgeridoos or whatever your lesson plan was. And then maybe you accidentally end up on Fox News with a grinch hat superimposed on your aching head?

11. What happens if it becomes a series of escalating one-ups? "Oh, Jimmy's parents leave cookies for Santa and then they find crumbs the next day!" "Jimmy's parents showed him reindeer hoofprints on their roof!" "Jimmy got a six-page single-spaced letter back from Santa telling him why he was the best little boy in town!" "Jimmy gave me a funny cigarette and now you have to take time away from Google Image searching Sean Bean to attend a meeting."

12. Eh, whatever, we'll probably just do it.

275 Comments / Post A Comment

OhMarie

Interesting! We always got one present from Santa and anything else was from our parents and a friend got only her stocking from Stanta, which I think is a nice way to take care of the whole more/less md get pajamas from the Sandman. Not sure if that was just for fun or as a way to ease us out of it.

I totally get and agree with the anti-Santa reasonings but it still seems really fun.

SuperGogo

@OhMarie Same here. One gift from Santa, the rest from mom and dad. Usually it simply signaled which one was the "big" gift that had to be opened last and was either going to break our hearts or fill them (in a consumery sort of way).

bitchycrosstownexpress

@OhMarie That's how my parents STILL do it, and we're all well over drinking age. Although I still tease my mom about the year my Santa present was a bike helmet (she claims that was not actually my Santa present and that my dad handed out the presents in the wrong order, but I think she forgot which present she was wrapping and labeled them wrong.)

SarahP

@OhMarie Our stocking was from Santa, and one or two gifts; all other gifts were from our parents.

area@twitter

@OhMarie Same to all here! Mom and Dad frequently do one or two "surprise" (i.e. not on our list) gifts from Santa, though I'm the youngest in the family at 30. Stockings are almost always "practical" gifts- socks, batteries, flashlights, soap. I'm rooting for a repeat of last year, when Mom gave me Dior concealer in my stocking. Best stuff ever- go Mom. :D

anachronistique

@bitchycrosstownexpress Mine too, though it's more like 1/3 Santa and 2/3 Mom-and-Dad on the tags. It cracks me up.

schrodingers_cat

@area@twitter for years my stocking has been chocolate, lip balm, and random stuff from Archie McPhees. Mom is definitely the one that fills it, not Dad.

OhMarie

@OhMarie Ahhh my comment got all messed up! I wanted to say that my mom started to diversify, like giving my sister a present from her cat or me pajamas from the Sandman.

area@twitter

@OhMarie Yes! When the dogs were still around we frequently got presents from them too. Our second Golden got a fleece squeaky toy every Christmas to kill; she would eviscerate it within fifteen minutes. TRADITION!

Judith Slutler

@OhMarie Yeah we did this too, and our Santa presents were like, wooden toys or something else that could credibly have been handcrafted by elves.

fondue with cheddar

@OhMarie We always had roughly half our presents from Santa and half from Mom & Dad. If there was any rhyme or reason to what came from whom, I never picked up on it. The Santa presents were always wrapped in paper with Santas on it.

@schrodingers_cat Yeah, always chocolate and lip balm. We also always got gum and Tic-Tacs, which we would always shake and say, "I wonder what THIS is..."

Be But Little

@OhMarie My brother and I are both in/graduated from college, but it looks like the Santa thing isn't going away until we both have kids. (The same goes for our mall!Santa pictures, which go up--and now down--the staircase in our house. Cute in a weird way.)

Anyway, our "big" present is usually from Santa (doll houses when I was little, computers and other gadget-y things later on) with a stocking full of toothbrushes, toiletries, maybe a CD or two, chapstick, a clementine/orange, etc. Oh, and the Santa presents are never wrapped. Everything else comes from Mom and Dad. I'm not sure what I'm getting this year as my Christmas list was something like "new socks please" so... Boring old adult, here I come!

P.S. THE COOKIES! They used to be eaten (when we actually made cookies), but now that parents are on a healthy-eating-kick (going on two years), I think they must feed it to the dog because I know they didn't actually eat those cookies.

every tomorrow@twitter

@Be But Little I am 30 years old and I still get presents from Santa AND from the family pets. I think my mom gets bored writing gift tags?

fondue with cheddar

@Be But Little Unrelated, but I just want you to know that I read your username as a first and last name, as in your last name is Little and your first name is Be-But, which is hilarious because I guess I am five.

Be But Little

@every tomorrow@twitter We make up gift tags at my house! Like, To "Dish Washer" From "The Head Cook" and To "AM Drive" From "PM Driver." I usually get the tags that say To "Hermione" From "Harry and Ron" or To "Belle" From "The Beast," which has been around for a loooong time.

withatwist

We still get wrapped presents from Santa, which include gifts from whichever reindeer my mom can remember. Rudolph is never included.

Emby

13. Really mess 'em up by telling them in no uncertain terms that Santa does in fact exist and does only bring gifts to good little boys and girls. Then give them gifts from you, as parents, but none from Santa, and explain that even though they perhaps were not good enough for Santa's criteria, that you still love them and thought they deserved presents after all.

puppetofmanysocks

@Emby

Are you my father?

KeLynn

@Emby - Not going to lie, I think this is a brilliant idea. Because even when I was a little snot, I still got presents from Santa, so it kind of justified my bad behavior because hey, I still made the Good list acting like that.

HereKitty

Nicole, you're the bomb. Last part of #11, all day and into the night.

(jk, jk, I'm a child-free cool aunt!)

SarahDances

I'm just going to leave this here: Six to Eight Black Men

Queen Elisatits

@SarahDances Santa Doesn't Speak Spanish

meetapossum

@Queen Elisatits Just a few pleasantries.

SarahDances

@Queen Elisatits Anyone can come to the door in Spain! And he certainly doesn't eat "tapath."

remargaret

@SarahDances Yay! I make my family listen to this every year.

NormaDesmond

No, really, the Elf on the Shelf, can someone please tell me what the hell that is??

anachronistique

@NormaDesmond The elf doll is placed in the house and you tell the kid that Santa has outsourced his "knows if you've been bad or good" to this tiny doll, which will watch your children and report back.

I feel like this is going to make some kids incredibly paranoid and freaked out, in the same way that some kids hear that Santa comes into your house and get really frightened.

TheBelleWitch

@anachronistique My little brother got so freaked out by Santa he started pulling out his hair. (Needless to say, the myth did not last long in our household.) I can't imagine the trauma wrought by that creepy elf.

PistolPackinMama

@anachronistique In our house the elves are invisible, of course. But they bring you underwear and socks for when you've been naughty during the year.

Of course, when the socks are smartwool knee-highs and the underwear is pretty bras... it's not such a bad thing. Also Ex Libirs the elf brings books, and Cuisinart the elf brings kitchen goods.

Santa is still A Thing in our house. And we are coming up on 40 years of letters to Santa, and he writes back and they are hilarious. Also it's fun to be a grown up without kids and Santa your parents. And the no Santa for some people thing is the reason we all started giving early and generously to things like Toys For Tots.

Also also my parents never really went overboard with Christmas material stuff, and so... Santa was just a thing at home and although fun also NBD.

I dunno. I think Santa was/is less god-like magical-ness and more an emphasis on playfulness, imagination, the fun of being a person who gives things as opposed to gets them, and generosity in my family. None of those things are bad, and it's a fun way to practice them in community. Probably this has to do with the fact that there are no grandkids in my family, also.

Blushingflwr

@NormaDesmond Every night he goes back to the North Pole to report on your behavior. So every morning he is in a new place in the house (at least, that's how my cousin does it). Sometimes he has notes.

anachronistique

@PistolPackinMama EX LIBRIS THE ELF. That is awesome.

runner in the garden

@NormaDesmond it's what happens when a QVC host decides her mom is a "brand."

Edit: Sorry for being grinchy. It is a cute idea. Something just rubs me the wrong way about the shiny corporate-ness of it and the insistence that "this is your new tradition."

Sea Ermine

@NormaDesmond Also, in addition to the whole "watching you" thing the parents will often move the Elf to different parts of the house in the night so that it seems like he's actually prowling around and watching you.

Ophelia

@PistolPackinMama In our house, the reindeer are in charge of all pet presents (rawhide, catnip mice, leftover wrapping paper, etc), Mrs. Claus gives housewares, and Yukon Cornelius gives out any weird/quirky presents.

Be But Little

@NormaDesmond I teach ballet to 2- and 3-year-olds, and the Elf on the Shelf has been the topic of potty-time conversation for the last three weeks. It's crazy! I would have been scared out of my mind when I was little--I definitely didn't sleep one Christmas because I thought the elves were going to come take me away.

PistolPackinMama

@Be But Little Weeellllll...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYdpte1W0vk

No one really knows for sure...

PistolPackinMama

@Ophelia Hahahah... Yukon Cornelius!

There are others, but Ex Libris and Cuisinart are the hardy perennials.

RubeksCube

@anachronistique That is exactly why I was always terrified of that ridiculous elf on the shelf. My parents had to get rid of it. I still get the heebie jeebies just looking at it...

Gilgongo

@NormaDesmond We just started "the elf" this year (my daughter is about to turn 3). Technically, it's totally creepy & weird but, then, so is Santa when you think about it! We move the elf every night. This morning, my daughter found him on the top of the TV and FREAKED OUT with joy. Screaming, jumping up & down, pointing. So, yeah, I'm a convert.

I guess it's a fine line between "creepy" and "wonderfully magical."

anachronistique

a) Elf on the Shelf is creepy as fuck.

b) My dad is a large dude with a big beard that has been steadily becoming whiter as he gets older. A few years ago we were at Trader Joe's a couple days before Christmas and a little kid in another cart went "SANTA???"

As we passed their cart and rounded the corner, my dad says, in a voice just loud enough for the kid to hear, "Ho ho ho!" I could hear the delighted gasp in the next aisle.

hoo:ha

@anachronistique Your dad rocks so hard.

EmilyStarr

@anachronistique a) Yes, incredibly creepy. My in-laws got it for our daughter when she was too wee to understand it (so probably her first Christmas). My husband immediately says "Oh, fantastic, we didn't have any Christmas traditions, so they're manufacturing them. That's going to Goodwill." And it did. Oh, holiday spirit... I'm just hoping they don't ask our daughter about it this year, since a) she's old enough to understand it (3.5) and b) we're spending Christmas with them.

anachronistique

@hoo:ha I'm pretty fond of that dude!

@EmilyStarr Good move! We do have a creepy Santa doll that belonged to my grandmother, but it doesn't report to anybody. It just sits there. Waiting. And possibly crafting shivs out of candy canes while we're sleeping. (Also you have an excellent handle!)

Jaya

I had the exact realization that Santa was just watered down religion for me about a year ago. Celebrating Santa/American Christmas (vs. Actually Going To Church Christmas) is the closest my family got to Christianity. When I was about 7, my cousin broke it to me that Santa didn't exist, though I had hints before. (Santa seemed to have different handwriting in the notes he left depending on where I spent Christmas.) But it seemed to mean so much to my parents that I participate in this ritual so for the next few years I still went through the motions of writing letters and pretending that these gifts came from nowhere until I'm pretty sure everyone figured out I wasn't being fooled anymore. From most people I've spoken to who've broken with their parents' religion, it's pretty much the same track.

SarahP

I think the Elf on the Shelf thing has been around for a while, but started getting more and more popular when cute mommyblogs started featuring it... and then people started being able to Pin it.

It's so weird and Foucaultian.

stuffisthings

@SarahP In my office I have a tiny bust of Hugo Chavez on top of my monitor which serves roughly the same purpose.

stuffisthings

@stuffisthings (Ugh I'm trying to come up with an "Elf on the Shelf" pun but nothing rhymes with "Bolivarian")

The Lady of Shalott

@SarahP One of my cousins on my flist reposted something her friend had posted. Her Elf on the Shelf SHAVED A CHUNK OF HAIR OUT OF HER HUSBAND'S HEAD. And the Elf on the Shelf sat on the pillow. Which she then photographed and put onto Facebook.

I just have so many questions and not a single answer.

iceberg

@stuffisthings the Bolivian... in yer livin' room? UGH sorry

itiresias

@SarahP Yeah. I'm 23 and on the tail end of my childhood, it got popular in my neighborhood because one girl's parents did it and she bragged like crazy. But all the elves looked different - mostly of the Annalee variety - and they didn't so much watch us as they did correspond to us through letters (always written back in a super festive font) and we got to ask questions about what the North Pole was really like. I think I found out the truth for real when my mom left a letter up on our family computer.

However, my cousins with kids (who are all Facebook whores) are ALL ABOUT this new elf on the shelf ordeal, and I find it crazy that a) it's all the same CREEPY LOOKING elf, b) he apparently causes mischief all over the house and often leaves the message "Be Good" ? My one cousin who's a first grade teacher gets suuuper into his shenanigans, and often posts pics of "Buddy" the elf making messes in the kitchen, tying up the other toys and holding them hostage with their own accessories, playing card games at the kitchen table with a variety of other toys... It's weird.

stuffisthings

@itiresias I should take pictures of my lil' Chavez expropriating things around the office.

area@twitter

@stuffisthings Please let one of them be the UN speech where he called George W. Bush a donkey.

schrodingers_cat

When I was a kid we had pictures taken with Santa, but presents weren't always from him. My mom is pagan and my dad is an atheist, so they were always fairly creative about attributing gifts. Sometimes something would be from "the Solstice druids" or anything snow sports related would be from "the Ullr of the snow." My mom is Dutch, so I did leave apples and carrots out for Sinterklaas' horse, but that had more to do with me liking horses than anything else.

HoliandIvy

@schrodingers_cat
Aaaaaaannnddd Ullr is going to be the source of all the ski bum presents that enter my house.
Well, or Skadi.

laurel

One of the best things my very iffy-at-mothering mom did was maintain, once I started asking questions, that "Santa is real because we are all Santa!" Which made gift making/giving kind of whoa.

PatatasBravas

@laurel I like this interpretation of We are all Spartacus!

I AM SANTA

I AM SANTA

I AM SANTA

laurel

@PatatasBravas: Santacus

PatatasBravas

@laurel When the beard goes white, the clothes go back on, and the whip is turned against the reindeer.

area@twitter

@laurel I always remember reading the bit in the Little House on the Prairie books where Ma explains Santa as everyone being kind and giving to each other for that day/night, and that was what allowed Santa Claus to exist. I don't always agree with Ma, but I think she was on to something there.

bb
bb

@PatatasBravas thank you for SLAYING me. I will be dead for christmas.

Hiroine Protagonist

@bb

SLEIGHING you?

Sorry.

SarahP

Despite being years out from having children, the husband and I have already talked about Santa and are totally against him. But considering I'm not Christian and he's not really anything, that's not going to be so hard--we plan to explain him to our kids the way we'll explain other people's religions. But neither of us has the guts to tell our parents this yet.

Boopsy

@SarahP Yeah! I love this. I am nowhere near child-bearing time (like, nowhere near long-term relationship time seriously) and yet strongly feel that I will never convince my future maybe children to believe in a Santa. I guess the explaining other people's religion thing will maybe convince them to not go around telling the other kids there isn't one...?

Also, I didn't have a Santa. Didn't seem to make a difference.

hoo:ha

I will always remember the year when Dad suggested that instead of milk and cookies, Santa might prefer a beer.

LacunaKale

@hoo:ha We always did beer and cookies. Because Santa's having a long night, ya'll.

franceschances

@hoo:ha Santa always wanted brandy when he came to my house.

fruiting body

@hoo:ha We left beer for Santa! It was great because after we were all past Santa-pretending-age, we just started leaving out a beer for each parent.

EmilyStarr

@franceschances Eggnog-spiked bourbon.

Sea Ermine

@hoo:ha Haha, yes. As a kid it was always beer and cookies for santa and carrots for the reindeer (aka my carrot loving dog).

hungrybee

@hoo:ha Girl yes, beer for Santa. And my father always had constructive suggestions about what kind of cookies Santa preferred. He is a fan of Mexican wedding cookies, did you know?

NuckingFux Nix

@hungrybee Santa always wanted ice cream at my house "because he was sick of cookies after so many houses". Which meant I always left on the fireplace a note about a bowl of pre-dished ice cream for him in the freezer.

Also, now that my sister is a teenageer, Santa often leaves the wine for Christmas dinner in our stockings. Its the best! The teenager still gets a regular stocking though, and she's not allowed to drink the wine.

katiemcgillicuddy

@hoo:ha I always found Santa enjoyed whiskey and Lays potato chips.

spanglepants

We left out mince pies and sherry (for Father Christmas).

janiebee

@Sea Ermine I didn't really care about Santa, but was very concerned about the poor overworked reindeer as a child. So plenty of carrots and celery for them, as well as a big water bowl! and seeing those delicately nibbled carrots when I woke up in the morning was actually kind of...magical? god my poor parents.

TARDIStime

@janiebee Oh my god, you are the cutest!

thatgirl

I post on a forum that started as a name nerd board, but which has expanded into being about pretty much everything ever.

A lot of the women discuss parenting, and some of the most hilariously heated threads involve things like "how old would a kid have to be before you were upset that he 'ruined' Santa for other kids?"

Other divisive topics include the use of cream of whatever soups in cooking, and the name Mavis.

Ellie

@thatgirl Please share the name of this forum! I'm intrigued.

[sic]

@thatgirl Baby's Named a Bad, Bad Thing?

thatgirl

@[sic] Where else would I have gotten Mavis from? Totally BNaBBT.

Canard

@thatgirl Hey! Any baroque faker sagas resulting in the banning of beloved members lately?

- the Strawberry Slutcake that was

thatgirl

@Canard Abbe came back! She was pretending to be her neighbor? I'm sort of unclear, but it was pretty awesome.

LacunaKale

I sometimes see people who talk about finding out about Santa as a deep childhood trauma. I mean, fine, but if that's the worst moment of your childhood, it was pretty good.

PatatasBravas

@LacunaKale Yeah, I don't remember it being traumatic at all. A kid that I didn't like in second grade told me it was all a fake, while we were in line for something, and my response was "Huh."

But my mom? She was really upset when I came home and told her I knew it wasn't real anymore. She definitely still writes letters from Santa that are found next to the cookie crumbs and carrot tops in the morning.

The Lady of Shalott

@LacunaKale I've come across that too, people who are Really Deeply Upset that THEIR PARENTS LIED ABOUT SANTA. And I just want to be like....really? Really? This is the hill you're choosing to die on? I can't tell if they're unhappy that Santa isn't actually real, or they're just unhappy in general and want to blame their parents for LYING TO THEM ABOUT SANTAAAAA.

Jesus jumping Christ, people.

wee_ramekin

@The Lady of Shalott Though, TO BE FAIR, if you have to die on any hill, one in the North Pole is at least understandable...

Relatedly/unrelatedly, have some Mitchell & Webb.

<3, wee_ramz

fondue with cheddar

@LacunaKale I honestly don't remember when or how I found out. I guess I just figured it out myself. I do remember a couple years when I knew but my younger brother didn't, and I didn't tell him the truth. That was pretty cool because I could vicariously experience the magic through him.

Jinxie

@fondue with cheddar Santa used to always leave us a note to thank us for the milk and cookies and one year I realized that his handwriting was JUST like my dad's (very distinctive) handwriting. I don't remember how old I was, but I know I went along with the whole ruse for at least another year after because the whole Santa thing was just so much fun.

fondue with cheddar

@Jinxie I think maybe I didn't my parents when I figured it out because I could tell that it was fun for them, and it was fun for me to play along, too.

FlufferNutter

@Jinxie Same here! My Dad's perfect handwriting became a dead giveaway. Also, my siblings and I baked some less-than-delectable cookies for Santa one year. We woke up to find them gone, as usual, but about a week later found them wrapped in plastic and hidden in the freezer in the garage. It was all over after that.

the roughest toughest frail

@PatatasBravas Yeah, my mom was waaayyyy more upset by my figuring out that she was Santa. She moaned about it for about 10 minutes, going on and on about how she bought special wrapping paper and tried to disguise her handwriting.

TheLetterL

@LacunaKale So many (every?) Santa movies already have the idea of "Do You Believe?!" tied to them. It makes the reality of Santa into something that can be questioned, and I would assume that most kids pick up on that, even subconsciously.

Me, I must have started putting things together when I didn't get the (very popular, very hard to find) toy I wanted in first grade, although I didn't consciously think about it. My mom finally had the talk with me, and all I remember is being annoyed when she tried to soften it with "We're all Santa, Santa is real in our hearts, etc." "Tooth fairy? Easter bunny?" I asked. She nodded. I nodded. Done.

Panzerschwein

@LacunaKale I mean, I had a complete break down, was crying and inconsolable for like two weeks, even though my mom had a beautiful explanation of "Santa was real, and we keep his spirit alive by giving gifts, he lives in you Simba, etc." It was pretty bad! It wasn't the worst part of my childhood, but the bullying and nasty racism I experienced didn't cause such a dramatic reaction. Getting told I was ugly and anyone who looked like was ugly when I was 7 didn't have me in hysterics, I internalized it and it became a normal thing to think about myself or have someone say to me.

So when I say "learning about Santa RUINED my childhood," it was more along the lines of learning that something that was above people and beyond day-to-day life, someone who only cared about how you acted not what you liked like, wasn't real that made me super upset. I believed in Santa because I though that he believed in me, knew I was good, kind person, so if he wasn't real, maybe I wasn't.

The Tooth Fairy, however, was an obvious sham from the start.

frigwiggin

I may have mentioned this before, but my dad once told me when I was very small that Santa watches us through the air vents of the house. Oh, Dad.

laurel

@frigwiggin lllol

fondue with cheddar

@frigwiggin Haha. That would have freaked me out if someone told me that as a kid, because when my parents had people over and I had to go up to bed, I would always put my ear to the floor vents to try to listen to what they were saying (because obviously the talking and laughing was always about me).

iceberg

we don't celebrate christmas, not sure how we'll navigate that when the kids are old enough to understand...

iceberg

@iceberg to clarify, we are atheists who don't celebrate Xmas, living in the Bible Belt.

A coworker asked me what the kids are getting from Santa this year (they'e not even 2 yet) and I was like "um we don't really do Christmas" and he was like "oh, i'll have to look into my Santa connection" - I think his mind had just replaced what I said with something he expected to hear.

rimy

@iceberg Please don't take this the wrong way, and don't answer if you prefer not to, but what was your reasoning behind not celebrating xmas? Does your family celebrate any other holidays? Do you have your own traditions from year to year? I am just curious, hopefully I'm not coming across as judgy or anything.

iceberg

@rimy not at all. my husband's family is all atheists and he'snever celebrated Xmas because he feels it would be hypocritical to celebrate a religious festival not his own - but they go BIG for birthdays - and I'm a (fairly) recently minted atheist who is just happy to not have to go to too much bother over it since we've no family here. I grew up with Christmas but it wouldn't be the family reunion it was, for our kids. Plus their birthday is in January so they'll get presents pretty soon after.

rimy

@iceberg That makes sense, thanks for answering! I am also a newly-minted athiest, but the last time I tried to do holidays lite, I got crazy depressed. This year I went ahead with the tree and the lights and the cookie baking and sneaky present-planning and I'm all happy about it. It's weird that it means so much to me (apparently)!

iceberg

@rimy Since my kids were born at the end of Jan, once they are a bit older I have a plan to do a birthday countdown (advent) calendar for them.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@iceberg What about solstice? Do you celebrate that? Because it is a great opportunity for food and beverages and being thankful for nature. (In my world this is what solstice is. I guess it's probably different for others.)

theotherginger

@rimy I think rituals and celebrations are important. Do what you need to do, for whatever reason. Although cultural appropriation can be weird/complicated/make people of that culture/religion uncomfortable.

KeLynn

@theotherginger - It has actually never occurred to me until your comment that celebrating Christmas even now that I am not a Christian is cultural appropriation. I grew up Christian and am now basically agnostic, but I still do the whole Christmas thing (just without the nativity scenes and such in my own home). I've never felt a bit of guilt about that just because I did it all growing up but....you're right, it is kind of weird and complicated. Even though now Christmas to me is just a time to celebrate friends and family as the year comes to a close and the weather starts to get cold, it is kind of shitty for me to still call it "Christmas" and do Christmas things when it's not *actually* religious Christmas for me. I have to chew on that.

theotherginger

@KeLynn interesting. I also think it's different to appropriate the dominant cultural/religious traditions v. traditions from religions that are not dominant, and, in fact, threatened/persecuted by dominant culture.

emmycantbemeeko

@iceberg

If it makes you feel any better, Christmas has a long tradition of being a wild, hedonistic , largely secular holiday borrowing traditions from many cultures (many predating Christianity) and for many devout Christian sects I (like the Puritans) it has been a non-holiday. The excellent (and not at all Foxnewsy, I swear) book "The War For Christmaas" describes the intense cultural tug of war that took place in the Victorian era to shape what we now think of as a "traditional" Christmas.

Don't ever let anyone make you feel bad for participating the genuine traditions of warmth, light, and fellowship that people have celebrated in December in just about every place it gets cold and dark just because you aren't "keeping Christ in Christmas". Especially the variations of those traditions you inherited from your own childhood! That's not cultural appropriation, that's *culture*.

emmycantbemeeko

@iceberg

Sorry, meant the above comment for @KeLynn. Typing on my phone is hard.

noodge

i don't think my parents ever told us that santa doesn't exist, but they always acted SO SILLY about santa that it was clear he didn't exist (along with the easter bunny and the tooth fairy) - like "better get to bed or else SANTA won't be able to give you your presents *wink wink*"

that, and we always loved figuring out the best gifts for each other, and I never saw gifts under the tree that weren't the result of our shopping. so - never believed? and i'm healthy and happy. or, at least my neuroses have little to do with my disbelief in santa. i think. oh god - is that what my problem is?!?!

Ragged But Right

My stance on this would probably come under the heading Santa Real, because of IMAGINATION and WONDER and CHILDHOOD and because I love how damn credulous children are. Pile them full of magic while you can, that's my motto - then shards of wonder might remain for them as adults, and shards are all you want, really.
The nitty gritty of the military industrial complex is for the 2nd decade, when they can start to drink. That is when I will really come into my own.

stuffisthings

@Ragged But Right Santa Real would be a good name for a Colombian soccer team.

stuffisthings

I believed in Santa when I was little and now I am a cruel and bitter cynic who hates humanity.

Ragged But Right

@stuffisthings Ha! Me too. But I hold out hope for small people, in a Children of Men sort of way.

leonstj

@stuffisthings - I enjoyed believing in Santa. When I was a littler older (7? 11? I dunno) and my sister was a few years younger, my sister asked if Santa was real. My parents shot me a "Don't Ruin It" look, as they hemmed and hawed and tried to figure out what to say to her. I jumped in.

"WHY WOULD YOU NOT BELIEVE IN SOMEONE WHO BRINGS YOU PRESENTS!?"

She stopped questioning. I'm an atheist now, and pretty firm in my beliefs (though totally accepting of others who differ! You do You!) but I still love the shit out of Christmas. People whine about it no longer being about Jesus, but I find it delightful. IT IS SO WHIMSICAL AND JOYOUS.

Man, I can be such a difficult cynic sometimes, it is FUCKING AMAZING to sing Christmas Carols and watch the Santa Radar and leave fake hoofprints around.

(I do like #8 as a reason to avoid though, but my parents were also liberal and a couple of the Santas in our house had different skin tones, which, I dunno, probably should have been confusing but for some reason wasn't? Three cheers for non-white Santas.)

wee_ramekin

@leon s I DID NOT KNOW THAT YOU HAD A SISTER.

fondue with cheddar

@leon s This is my favorite Santa-related question on "Yo, Is This Racist?"

Ophelia

@leon s This. All of this. Exactly.

PatatasBravas

If you decide NOT to do Santa, you are kind of just switching the burden of deception onto your kids, because people will go crazy on them if they do not play along with the others, which sometimes does involve flat-out lying, even though Santa may not be a "lie" per se.

WHAT EVEN. If a parent came along and accused my nieces and nephews of partaking in the War! Against! Christmas! by not lying about Santa, I would be soooooo enraged. I hope this is a very very uncommon thing.

stuffisthings

@PatatasBravas This is why if I have kids I'm not raising them in the United States. If the stories around the Internet are true, I would be jailed for tasering other parents before they finished kindergarten.

darklingplain

@PatatasBravas No, I grew up Jewish in a pretty liberal area, and my parents still impressed on my that it would be VERY BAD to tell other children there was no such thing as Santa.

EmilyStarr

Our stocking from Santa, and that was it. I don't think I ever realized other people did it different ways. That's how we're doing it with our kids, too. I think. But having just realized that people do it differently, I guess I need to confirm with my husband, given that our daughter's 3.5... Ahem.

We always wrote letters to Santa Christmas Eve and sent them up the chimney, then left out cookies and eggnog and hung up our stockings before bed.

dracula's ghost

Scene: My family's living room. I am lying prone on our hideous orange corduroy couch, because it is the early 80s.

Me [to my mother]: "Are you and dad Santa?"
Mom: "Do you want me to tell you the truth?"
Me: "Yes."
Mom: "Yes."
Me: ".........ok."

I have always found her "do you want me to tell you the truth" to be so hilarious.

The Santa question seems really awkward, vis a vis child-rearing.

Also awkward: when you're hanging out with somebody who has literally an 11 year old child and you say some joke about Santa and then the mom gets all tight lipped and is like "we believe in Santa in our home" and you're like "OHHHHH SHIT," because honestly, 11???

laurel

@dracula's ghost: Tell me more about this orange corduroy couch.

Also, yes, the "shall I continue to preserve your suspension of disbelief?" in your mom's question is awesome. There is a lot of parenting in that question.

dracula's ghost

@laurel It was not merely a couch, but also two matching armchairs. The orange was deep and almost more of a "rust." The corduroy was similarly deep, I remember running my fingers through its ridges while watching Sesame Street.

I wish I could say I still had them, as heirlooms, but when asked about it my mom says "I don't even remember that couch."

itiresias

@dracula's ghost One of my clearest memories from fourth grade was meeting up with my best friend to walk to the bus and she was racked with laughter, because a girl had just given a class presentation for a science project about how Santa was real, and she had cited sources even, and how he uses physics to travel at the speed of light to every house in the world in one night. Apparently the whole class had been dumbfounded as to how to handle it - no one else still believed in Santa - and the teacher had been extremely frantic trying to simultaneously preserve this girl's innocence and dignity while holding back the onslaught from the audience of 9 year olds who had realized they were smarter than someone else.

dracula's ghost

@itiresias OMGGGGGGGG what a dreadful tale!! LOLLLL

Ellie

I think the above cited comment, "I am not busting my ass working two jobs to afford presents and then giving credit to a made-up white man," is a good point.

But apart from that I don't really understand what there is to be in "opposition" to about the tradition/myth about Santa Claus? It's just a cultural tradition. It doesn't seem to me like it has philosophical significance enough to be worthy of opposing. Can someone please explain to me what I'm missing about it?

iceberg

@Ellie I don't know that anyone's like, opposed to Santa per se (except for that quote, which I think is wonderful), but some of the pro-Santa crazy parents would see not doing Santa as being anti-Santa? I could be wrong.

Jaya

@Ellie I think some of it is just the idea of lying to your kids when you don't really need to? It's not like it's a huge lie, but I'm sure you could also just tell your kids that their family and friends bought them all the presents and everything would be ok.

PatatasBravas

@Ellie Yeah, the people I know who don't do Santa aren't violently anti-Santa or anything.

The people I know who do do Santa:
a) Yay nostalgia!
b) Aww, this is a sweet little "well, fuck it, why not?" tradition we may as well try.

The people I know who don't do Santa:
a) Not in my childhood, so no nostalgia to work with.
b) Aww, it's a sweet little "well, fuck it, why not?" tradition that I just don't have the energy to tackle at this time of year, so fuck it (sweetly).

PatatasBravas

But I guess some of the War! On! Christmas! folks just can't wrap their heads around the "cute, but I'll pass" approach to Santa? YOUR GENTLE "THIS IS NOT FOR ME" IS AN OFFENSE TO MAAAAAH VERY SOOOOOUL or whatever.

Sort of like the judgment I get for "cute, but I'll pass" on having kids, actually.

iceberg

@Jaya oh your explanation is much better.

SuperGogo

@Ellie My sister and brother-in-law are anti-Santa with my niece, because Jesus. Who needs a bearded man to silently watch and judge your kids just in December when you can have one year-round??

PistolPackinMama

@Jaya So my comment elsewhere basically was, and I didn't know this, but it was... Santa was my parents' way of teaching the value of imagination and play. We have a pretty elaborate mythology of Santa in our household, and it's all just... yeah. The youngest person is 30 and we still write letters on Christmas Eve and hear back (one year we left him an ethnological academic article on Elf culture with mathematical modeling).

There is a difference between lying and story-telling, I guess.

Witness, the Letters From Santa in this here site last year. They were stupendous. And made moreso because Santa wrote them (and not, say, Edith) (not that letters from Edith aren't wonderful) (just different).

leonstj

@Jaya - I feel like constantly trying to trick small children into believing ridiculous things would be my favorite part of parenting? Not like, harmful things (we used to joke it would be awesome to raise your kid until they left the home to have the words for 'spoon' and 'fork' backwards), but like.

When I was little, one of my uncles told me he had an invisible jet (I was not aware at this point of wonder woman) that he could fly to Candy Land, and that is where he was when he was not visiting, and that once I was an adult I could go there too IF i kept good grades. Things like that.

Judith Slutler

@PistolPackinMama Word. We read Tolkein's "Letters from Father Christmas" and Santa's shaky handwriting, Polar Bear's shenanigans, etc got incorporated into our Santa story.

Also, being the older sister, once I figured out the truth about Santa my parents had me writing the letters and stuff for my little brother to read! And it was awesome. A total labor of love.

meetapossum

@leon s My goal is to be Calvin's dad, basically, and make up all kinds of fun stuff for them to believe for even just a minute.

Ellie

@Jaya I guess my argument to that would be that it's not a lie, it's a myth. To me it's the same as saying that fairy tales are lies. Nobody tells or reads his or her kid a story and prefaces it with a disclaimer "THIS IS MADE UP, IT DIDN'T ACTUALLY HAPPEN" every time. To me, saying "I don't believe in Santa" basically sounds like that; it seems like going out of your way to be mean spirited and a buzzkill.

Jaya

@Ellie I'm not saying I adhere to this, I just understand the argument for why you wouldn't partake in it. Also most myths don't affect your life the way Santa does. You don't leave cookies out for Mermaids every year. (Though I totally would.)

Elsajeni

@Ellie Sure, we tell a lot of stories that don't get an "ALL MADE UP" disclaimer, but I think Santa is different from those because most parents (although I know not everyone does this) actively present him as real, and do things like stage "evidence" that he was really in the house or get weird about it when their kids ask if he's real. That's lying. I'm not saying I disagree with it -- I think it's usually a fun and pretty harmless lie, along the lines of my dad's casual bullshitting when I was a kid (did you know that Frontage Road, named after French explorer Pierre Frontage, is the longest road in America? that's why you see signs for it on every highway!) -- but it's a lie.

Genghis Khat

@Ellie Are you my sister? If you are, then you will remember learning about the escaped indian chief and wanted criminal, Falling Rock. When people spot him they have to call the highway department to put up a sign that reads "Watch For Falling Rock."

meetapossum

@Genghis Khat Your parents must know my mom because I also know of Falling Rock. I believed that story for longer than I believed in Santa.

PistolPackinMama

@leon s Have I told anyone here about how my parents had me CONVINCED, in a who would think differently kind of way, that the constellation Orion was... an Irish trash collector/ Used furniture sales guy.*

Oh boy was that 5th grade astronomy class embarrassing.

*Irish Name Irish Name Irish Name Irish Last Name here reporting for duty with her four Irish names.

Also that Santa affects your life thing, vs. myths we tell and don't believe: Leftover from before The Age of Reason, anyone? Like, leave out milk for the pixies, turn your inside out to avoid being lost in the woods, and believe in Sinter Klaas belief.

When I was living in Scotland a friend took me to what was called a clooty well- cloth well/spring. People would tie cloth scraps to trees and bushes around the well and make wishes. The greenery was COVERED in cloth scraps. Like, years and years worth- nearly new and nearly gone. It was... kind of amazing. And also probably a leftover.

shadowkitty

@leon s Now I'm reminded of a road trip we took once where my friend's kid was doing a school project on things the Victorians invented. Let's just say I don't think she did very well, what with us telling her about Victorian microwaves and trainers.

KeLynn

@Elsajeni +1. That's the difference, that's why people get so worked up about kids telling other kids it's not real, and that's why some people are so opposed to it. Santa isn't taught to kids as a cute little story or myth or fairy tale. Santa is taught to kids as a reality. An actual man who actually climbs down your chimney and actually rewards good behavior with presents.

siniichulok

I'm Jewish, and we never did the Santa thing growing up (one of the things besides our air of general neglect and our family's artsiness and series of battered tiny used Eastern European cars that made us suspect in general). My husband is Muslim and doesn't want to do the Santa thing either, but (as is the case in Turkey/Central Asia/possibly the rest of the Former Soviet Union, I dunno), he HAS grown up with "Ded' Moroz," or "Ayaz Ata," a guy who strongly resembles Santa and brings presents for New Year instead. Sometimes there are even trees involved. So we may end up doing that for the progeny....

Julia duMais

@siniichulok Ooh, I like that idea. NYE is the worst; presents would improve it dramatically.

par_parenthese

@siniichulok Interesting! The original Saint Nicholas (an actual dude and bishop) was from modern-day Turkey!

stonefruit

@siniichulok my hazy memory is that all the republics had some version of Ded' Moroz in the FSU? My main regret from JYA was not sticking around St. Petersburg for NYE.

The Attic Wife

I remember around 5th grade having a remarkably philosophical conversation about the existence of Santa (it was a time when I didn't REALLY believe, but really WANTED to) and a friend and I decided 'Santa' was some spirit of benevolence and human charity, basically a cosmic force that controls finding a crumbled $10 in your freshly laundered jeans that could be put toward buying Christmas presents.

It's a tricky issue, but I LOVE the Santa mythology (not the Elf on the Shelf, that's too creepy) so my usual response to a kid who's all, "Is Santa real?" tends to be, "Well, I believe in Santa. Do with that information what you will."

PistolPackinMama

@The Attic Wife it helps when the rule of the house is "people who believe in Santa are visited by Santa, and people who mess with others' beliefs in Santa will never receive a visit."

Cawendaw

I was fond of the Santa lesson when I was teaching, since it was an opportunity to go into the historical and multicultural evolution of Santa (Anatolia, Germany, Holland, America) and remind everyone that Christmas and Christianity and Western culture wasn't just one homogeneous constant thing (contrary to what the textbook may imply).
Also one year they had me go into a kindergarten, dress as Santa, and answer a bunch of 4- and 5-year olds' questions as Santa. It was really cute and I never worried about the possible problematic aspects of it because the middle school I was teaching at had huge problems with bullying, indifferent teachers, and a terrible curriculum and educational culture and nobody's problems had anything to do with Santa.

anachronistique

@Cawendaw I went to a choral concert yesterday where they performed Britten's St. Nicolas and there's a whole movement about accidental cannibalism! This seems related.

fondue with cheddar

@Cawendaw I thought it was really cool to learn about other culture's Santas. It also made it easier to believe, because one dude delivering presents to the entire world is a little hard to believe.

rimy

@Cawendaw I love all the different stories and traditions and evolutions of various legends, especially the pre-Abrahamic religion pagan-y customs that have stuck around through the ages. Is there such a thing as 'Holiday Studies' as an anthropology-type masters degree?

fondue with cheddar

@rimy Mythology of Holidays?

I like the pagan aspects of holidays, too. Not only the customs, but the reason for celebrating. It just makes sense to me to celebrate solstices. (Obviously I am not religious.)

fondue with cheddar

@fondue with cheddar Er...I mean "cultures' Santas". Geez.

Alli525

Is this the right post for starting a SantaCon thread?? I need help figuring out a costume. And also how to drink for 12 hours straight without dying, now that I am 27 and therefore old as Santa.

Jinxie

@Alli525 SantaCon is the only "City Wide Bar Crawl" type event that I've ever been tempted to attend but I will probably abstain (again) this year for the simple reason that the few holiday parties I've already been to have ravaged my liver and I've still got a few more to attend. Adding in a bar crawl just seems unnecessary. But if I did go, I think I'd like to pull together a large group of friends so we could be the 8 (or is it 9, including Rudolph?) reindeer and Santa. I remember being really annoyed at the imbalance of Santas to Reindeer I saw around town last year.

fabel

My parents did some gifts from Santa, some from them. I was also super old when I realized Santa wasn't real, like old enough where my mom felt the need to be like "Hmmm...notice how SIMILIAR Santa's handwriting is to mine?" or something like that. EMBARRASSING & I was pretty upset, I think. So...don't do that?

Also, I staggered my moments of realization-- I stopped believing in Santa, but the Easter Bunny was still real for a period of time.

Hoosier Time

We have a very non-religious house - a bit of Jewish, a bit of Christian, mostly a whole lot of apathy. I told my kid from the get-go that there was no Santa. His response? "Yes, there is, I saw him at your party at work." But we don't buy him any Santa presents.

I remember finding out at around 5 or 6 from some kid at school. It did not in any way blow my mind.

TARDIStime

@Hoosier Time
"Yes, there is, I saw him at your party at work." LOLOLOLOLOLOL!

ifsolitude

My parents were always pretty anti-Santa, but played along with it for a few years, I think because of grandparents. The first time I asked if Santa was real, my mom said, "No." I was probably about four. I kind of respected them for not lying to me, and don't recall ever having to lie about it to any of my friends or having to play along in any way that bothered me. I think I still got the occasional present from "Santa," at least until whatever point my brother stopped believing.

NeenerNeener

All my presents were from Santa, except the one present (pajamas) I opened on Christmas Eve (because, duh, Santa hadn't come yet).
And I don't remember when I found out Santa wasn't real, so it must not have been a big deal.

leonstj

@NeenerNeener - Where does the pajama tradition come from? We do this too (my mother actually mails me pajamas every year and ever since text messaging / cameras in phones she has made me text her a picture of me wearing them or else ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE) but I have no idea the origin despite REALLY LOVING THE PAJAMAS.

NeenerNeener

@leon s
For one, my family LOVES pajamas. But otherwise, I have decided that the reason we got pajamas on Christmas Eve was so that we would be wearing our nice, new pjs in all the Christmas morning pictures. Pictures in pajamas!

Brunhilde

@leon s My Ma makes us all flannel pj pants for Xmas every year. It's always one of my favorite presents, and I wear pjs with snowflakes or monkeys in santa hats or skiing penguins year round. I think it's a tradition because they're easy to make, cheap, and fuck yeah jammies!

TARDIStime

@leon s
I did not have this tradition as a kid, but if I ever have a little River Song of my own, I am instigating this tradition for her. I love it!

bellekaren

I'm not Christian and I didn't have any Christian friends until my teens so I didn't realize that anyone actually believed in Santa until... like, this year.

the roughest toughest frail

You could always institute the Tió de Nadal!
Related: I am about to pass out from holding my laughter in.

fondue with cheddar

@abetterfate WHAT a shitting log sounds like the best holiday tradition ever. WHAT KID WOULD NOT LOVE THAT?

rimy

@abetterfate Semi-related: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caganer

the roughest toughest frail

@fondue with cheddar I love that you beat the log while demanding that it shit.

Judith Slutler

@abetterfate Jesus Christ that is hilarious. I can't even deal with the translated song lyrics. Now I'm going to ask every Catalonian person I know about the shitting log.

PoBoyNation

@abetterfate OH MY GOD

wee_ramekin

WE DID NOT HAVE "ELF ON A SHELF" WHEN I WAS LITTLE (I am 28) AND I DO. NOT. LIKE. IT.

Judith Slutler

@wee_ramekin I just read an article on this new "tradition" and I would like to talk about it very much sounds like some "societies of control" panopticon style fuckery right out of Foucault. Like I firmly believe that if he were still alive and I were to visit him at some S&M club in Paris and be like, "Michel, have you heard of this Elf on the Shelf thing?' he would immediately hop up, get dressed, and start writing a multipage treatise on Elf on the Shelf.

wee_ramekin

@wee_ramekin Okay, I Wikipedia'd it and it seems that this "tradition" took off after a book was published about it in **2005**. Which is when I graduated college. I think it would be a better idea to annually celebrate the college graduation of everyone in the Class of '05 than to get all lathered up about a creepy voyeuristic stalker elf.

City_Dater

@wee_ramekin

A friend's amazing six-year old daughter casually added their Elf on the Shelf to her collection of dolls, and he is now married to another doll named Frankie (gender unclear) and entirely too busy due to his incredibly complicated personal life to spy for Santa.
I admire this child immensely.

OhMarie

@wee_ramekin Oh, I hate the Elf on the Shelf too (I am also 28). I feel like I'm pretty accepting of the new stuff Kids These Days have, but I just cannot get down with Elf on the Shelf or wheel shoes.

NeenerNeener

@OhMarie
Wheels shoes! I envy kids and their wheel shoes! I mean it, every time I see them, I think, "IT'S NOT FAIR!!"

every tomorrow@twitter

@NeenerNeener WHY WERE THESE NOT A THING WHEN I WAS A CHILD I WOULD HAVE WORN THEM EVERYWHERE I mean when I was 8 I wore my rollerskates in the house like 95% of the time anyway, those things would just mean that I could wear my rollerskates EVERYWHERE. Like TO THE MALL.

TARDIStime

@NeenerNeener I feel that way about shoes that light up when you walk.
Where were my disco sneakers?

JessicaLovejoy

Santa gave me the little treats in my stocking (WHAT UP ORIGINAL ACTUALLY POCKET SIZED POLLY POCKET) but I knew the wrapped gifts were from my family. Maybe I'm a huge dick, but I can't imagine spending both my time and money to find the perfect gifts only to let a garish stranger take all the credit.

werewolfbarmitzvah

I remember getting wise to the whole Santa charade by the time I was 4 or 5, and feeling kind of like my parents were insulting my intelligence by expecting me to believe that stuff. (Insufferably precocious child up in heeeeere!)

Now I don't know what the hell I'm going to do with my own kid. My instinct is to introduce Santa as a "mythological" character who is a fun idea but obviously fictional, but what if it turns out my kid is dumb as a bag of hammers and actually wants to believe in this stuff? I don't want to end up being the killjoy mom who destroys the magic of the holidays right off the bat, just for the sake of being a know-it-all. Hmmmm.

Judith Slutler

@werewolfbarmitzvah Is it really "dumb as a bag of hammers" to want to believe in a cool story about a guy who is friends with reindeer and brings you presents, though? What if your kid just fucking loves playing pretend, and Santa is part of that?

werewolfbarmitzvah

@Emmanuelle Cunt I mean, I'm largely kidding with the "dumb as a bag of hammers" part, but there's also a huuuuuuuuuge difference between loving to play pretend, and legitimately believing in the things you're pretending about. You can play pretend while being fully aware that the fun imaginary things you're pretending are exactly what they are: imaginary. I'm not saying that the name of Santa must be eternally forbidden from my house; it's more like recognizing that this is a fun story to play around with, but we all know what the deal is.

Sea Ermine

@werewolfbarmitzvah I think it has more to do with how imaginative your kid is though. I was a smart kid but I fucking loved santa because I liked imagination and playing pretend and fantasy and all of that. I'm 22 now and my sister and I still write letter to santa and while wrapping presents for my parents I totally addressed some of them as being from santa and I got all excited about decorating my home and preparing everything for christmas. Because it's fun to do that sometimes.

I figure if you want a balance, just talk to your kid about the various santa mythologies from various countries and then if he believes then go along with it and if not then don't. That way it's really up to him.

Blushingflwr

My father's primary love language is almost certainly gifts, so Christmas and birthdays are a big deal. He is a giant pain in the ass to shop for, because he buys himself the stuff he wants, but he LOVES giving other people stuff. Add to this the fact that I am an only child, and I definitely got more than one gift from Santa.

I still love Santa. When I was little I would write him notes and leave him cookies and milk (and carrots for the reindeer) and he would write back (in handwriting that bore a striking resemblance to the Easter Bunny's). Now a days we all (Mom, Dad, me) all get presents from Santa and other people. The tag is a clue to what the gift is - e.g. if it's related to a TV show, the tag might say it's from a member of the cast, if it's a Civil War book it might be from Abe Lincoln. The handwriting's usually a good clue as to who it's actually from, of course.

I have Santa's phone number in my phone. I told my little cousin that Santa won't come if you're awake, and she was like "but what if you're still up" (because I was sleeping on the couch in the room with the tree) and I told her it didn't matter because Santa and I were friends (there are also pictures of grown-up me with Santa). And so I have his phone number as proof. (it's his google voice number)

Blushingflwr

@Blushingflwr I will say though that the one Santa-related thing I cannot abide is the "Santa brought this to our house for you by mistake". F that noise. If Santa knows if I have been bad or good and when I am sleeping, he damn sure well knows where I live. I never believed it when my Aunts told me that (at least, I always remember being skeptical).

maxine of arc

@Blushingflwr In our house, a Civil War book would be from "Abe Lincoln Elf." There's an elf for everything!

Argelfraster

When you are Jewish, this is what happens (as happened to my brother, age 3):

Supermarket Cashier: "And what are you asking Santa for, little boy?"
Brother: "Nothing!"
Supermarket Cashier: "::horrified look at my mother::"
Mom: "Please, tell the nice lady why!"
Brother: "'Cause we celebrate HANNUKAH!"
Supermarket Cashier: "..."

That being said, there was one time of the year when we did believe in Santa, because he was physically present: Santa Claus came around all the streets of my tiny town, handing out candy canes to all the girls and boys. And my fiercely Jewish mother, who gave me lessons by age 5 of how to combat missionaries, would send my brother and me out to get our candy canes, and to also ask extra for our (non-existent) "sick little brothers and sisters who can't come out to greet you." And we always would, and we'd share the extra haul with Mom. So, Santa Claus was just some nitwit we conned into giving us extra candy.

To me, Christmas is the time of year when I realize just how much majority culture is steeped in Christianity. So it is alienating, and it does suck, but it's also just something I deal with. Also, it's when I realize how terrible the goyim's taste in music is. Please, sing your Christian hymns. They are so much prettier and better than most of the schlock on the radio.

iceberg

@Argelfraster your mum is the BEST. I wish to subscribe to her newsletter.

Lisa Frank

@Argelfraster Your mom is awesome! I remember being so relieved when we moved to a more diverse town when I was 7, and I didn't have to do the Santa charade anymore. Christmas is so confusing for non-Christian children.

every tomorrow@twitter

@Argelfraster I like two kinds of Christmas music: The really old stuff about Jesus, and stuff sung by Bing Crosby. Any post-Bing Christmas music is dead to me.

stonefruit

@Argelfraster I think you are me. Or I am you. Because that is precisely how I feel about this time of year: the ubiquitous Christianity/Christian culture is everywhere in the air, and I have to struggle not to be outwardly hostile about the widespread assumption that any of it means anything to me. Also, as a former choir-girl, AMEN on the music. Old-school Lutheran hymns (or Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas) or nothing.

Also, sisterstonefruit got pinkeye one year right on Christmas and had to be taken to urgent care to get some drops for her eyes, and apparently it went like this:

Nurse: You were such a good girl - I'm sure you will have a very merry Christmas!
tiny sisterstonefruit: Oh, we don't celebrate Christmas!
mamastonefruit: BUT THANK YOU FOR THE COMPLIMENT KIND NURSE LADY AND WARM SEASONAL GREETINGS TO YOU AS WELL.

Our next-door neighbors when I was a kid were Christian, and we would always have them over one night of Chanukah for candle-lighting and latkes. In return they let us help them decorate their tree. I like the holiday exchange, but I am now remembering that my mom definitely had to sit me down when I turned 7 and tell me that even though she and I knew that Santa wasn't real, I was not allowed to tell Emma (my neighbor) that. Which, given how militant she was about filtering out Christmas/Christian-themed stuff, seems pretty respectful in hindsight.

iceberg

@stonefruit I think the violently religious brand of Xmas I am experiencing in the US is why I don't mind giving it up.

stonefruit

@iceberg I hear that. On the other hand, I recently had a very lovely friend try to explain to me that Christmas really isn't a religious holiday and so I should just go ahead and celebrate it (or at least not take issue with people assuming I want to celebrate it). It felt really lousy and I tried to change the subject pretty quickly.

iceberg

@stonefruit Yep, that's what my husband used to get in Australia, from defensive non-Christians who somehow felt that his not doing Christmas was a judgement on them doing it...

Faintly Macabre

@stonefruit Most of my family is Jewish born and raised, but my mom's favorite cousin married a goy who loves to cook. So since high school, we've spent Christmas day at their house stuffing ourselves and playing with their dog.

I'm supposed to be spending this month teaching French children about English Christmas vocabulary, Christmas songs, and American Christmas traditions. Even though French people are always going on about how much more secular they are than Americans, it doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone that I didn't grow up celebrating Christmas. When they're like, "Oh, can you talk to them about American traditions?" I think, "I bake a cake, and then we eat and I put felt antlers on the dog." I can, however, sing Rock of Ages and tell you how to make latkes. But I get the sense that telling the kids about Judaism would count as proselytism here.

darklingplain

@stonefruit My response to people who start going on about how Christmas traditions are actually pagan, it's really just an American holiday, it's not a religious thing, etc. is that it may not be Christian but it's awfully goyish anyway.

stonefruit

@darklingplain Hah! Excellent. I shall steal it!

meetapossum

My mom was pretty awesome with Santa things. Someone always ate the cookies (and carrots), and Santa's gifts were always wrapped with a separate wrapping paper. Santa had a distinct handwriting different from my mom's and different from the Easter Bunny.

I think she probably had a lot of fun doing it, and I look forward to doing it myself someday.

nogreeneggs

@meetapossum My mom had separate paper and handwriting too! But Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy all had the same handwriting so you would think that would have tipped me off. It did not. My mom still signs things as Santa, I think she kind of misses it.

lavender gooms

I never believed in Santa (as far as I and my parents can recall, anyway.) I played along with it for a few years because I thought my parents believed.

We always had presents from Santa, but also from various pets. I think my yearly Calvin and Hobbes anthology came from "Hobbes" a few years.

Courtney Jenkins@facebook

I figured it out when I was like 5 and it was NBD. I just told my mom I knew and she was like, "cool, now we can stop waiting for you to go to sleep to get the presents together."
The biggest Santa trauma was when I was, like, 10, and I ruined Santa for some other 10 year old on the playground. I assumed by sixth grade everyone knew what was up. I felt bad but also slightly incredulous.

fondue with cheddar

@Courtney Jenkins@facebook Even after my brother and I figured out the truth, my parents still put the presents out while we were alseep. There was a rule that we weren't allowed to go downstairs until our parents were up, so we would sit at the top of the steps and wait, and we continued to abide by that rule as long as we lived at home.

every tomorrow@twitter

@Courtney Jenkins@facebook I forget how old I was but I actually figured out the easter bunny first. I do distinctly remember the conversation I had with my mom:

"Mom, is the easter bunny real?"

"Do you really want to know?"

"...yes."

"He's just pretend. But it's fun pretend. Don't tell your brother, though."

"...oh. What about Santa?"

"...yeah, Santa too."

I must have been pretty young. I was disappointed for about 30 seconds, then I was over it because I still got candy and presents so it didn't matter where they came from. :P

synchronized
synchronized

Wow. Now that I know what "The Elf on the Shelf" really is, I can make some big Life Decisions related to it. Like: If you think "The Elf on the Shelf" is a reasonable way to encourage good behavior in your kids, we probably can't/won't be friends.

I try not to be judgmental about others' parenting decisions, but this is just too creepy.

wee_ramekin

@synchronized I did not until this very article know what Elf on the Shelf was.

I did not until this very article know that I could hate something so much.

synchronized
synchronized

@wee_ramekin I feel that this photo sums everything up pretty well: http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-media/product-gallery/B000XR6MBQ/ref=cm_ciu_pdp_images_2?ie=UTF8&index=2&isremote=0

Kate Kane

@wee_ramekin The elf is not to be liked or trusted http://thebloggess.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/photo.jpg

Regina Phalange

I think our collective fantasy about Santa is pretty harmless fun. I heard a comedian talk about how life is non-magical all the time, so why not inject some magic when you can?
I first heard of an "Elf on the Shelf" while watching "The League," and I remember thinking, "Oh, no, this is going to be a thing now." (Obviously not due to the show, which is criminally underwatched, but you know. I'm not really sure how culture gets made.)
Honestly, growing up, my parents were big into "Jesus is watching you! Turn His frown upside down!", so I don't think the addition of a stuffed toy woulda fazed me too much.

highfivesforall

@Regina Phalange Kegel the elf!

Regina Phalange

@highfivesforall Haha, and the little girl gave him that name, didn't she? That show is fifteen kinds of wrong, but I love it.

snowmentality

I don't actually remember believing in Santa, because of the following facts:

1) I have very few memories before the age of four.
2) I learned to read right around the time I turned four.
3) I figured out Santa the first Christmas I could read, because I noticed that Santa's handwriting was identical to Mommy's.

It wasn't a huge world-shattering thing. I just accepted it as a game of pretend.

Honestly, I took pretty much all of the supernatural kid things as a game of pretend, like the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy and whatnot. I knew they weren't really real, but it was fun to pretend they were, to suspend disbelief enough to enjoy it. I was always a little weirded out by kids who were vehement about Santa Claus being really real -- like seriously guys, you can't just enjoy a good game of pretend?

But I kept all of that to myself. Not only the other kids, but also all of the adults, seemed invested in the idea of Santa being real. So if asked by an adult, I would have said Santa was real, because that was what they wanted me to say. (When asked by other kids, I equivocated until I figured out what they thought, then agreed with them.) But inside my own head, I knew that when I said "Santa is real," I was just playing along with the game of pretend.

The whole thing was an interesting negotiation of fantasy, reality, suspension of disbelief, and people-pleasing.

mynamebackwards

Does anyone remember Herself the Elf? For some reason, I had two of the same doll and my mom co-opted one of them. My mom’s Herself would then come on road trips and live in the glovebox until it was time to pop out and be a bitch to my dad. She complained about the temperature, how fast we were driving, what we had for lunch etc…I thought it was HILARIOUS. I don’t know if my husband and I will have kids, but if so, this is the kind of elf tradition I would like to keep alive.

stonefruit

@mynamebackwards OH MY GOSH! Herself the Elf! I had those dolls and the books and one of the little neighbor girls had a speech impediment and called her Self-dee-elf (all one word). I loved those! Your mom gets major points for repurposing the doll as a proxy :)

rimy

My mom sort of halfheartedly did the Santa traditions, including leaving out cookies and milk, but then it fell by the wayside. I don't think any of us were truly ever convinced. My dad still signs all his presents as from "Atlantaclaus", and my mom does all hers as from "Mommyclaus".
I'm not religious whatsoever but I really really like Christmas. It's just a warm & cozy little holiday, and can be as un-commercialized and un-materialistic as you prefer. I just like finding, making, or buying little things I know that the people I love will like... ah, Christmas <3

rimy

@rimy Childhood Favorite Parts of Christmas:
- My sister and I straining to stay awake as long as we can to see if we can hear the presents being put under the tree as we shine a flashlight on the wall clock
- Eventually succumbing to slumber
- Waking up at 5 am out of excitement, trying to decide if 5 am is too early to go downstairs
- It's definitely not too early! Let's go, let's go, let's go!
- Stop by our other sisters' room to wake them up impatiently
- Slowly creep down the stairs, into the dark living room
- The tree is glowing and blinking! There are piles of presents! Our stockings are bulging!
- Open the stockings sloooowly pulling out the treats within. Our parents have filled them with cheap, small toys that will occupy us until they wake around 7 or 8
- Breakfast! Presents! Playing with our new toys! Christmassss!

the end.

OhMarie

@rimy Yeah, I am an atheist now but I still love Christmas. It's so freaking dark, I neeeeeed it!

garseeyalater

My Parents took my sister and me out to dinner to break the news that Santa was not real. They made sure to emphasize that the spirit of Santa was alive and well, and that we were under no circumstances to ever tell a child younger than us that Santa was not real. I think my sister and I were 8 and 10.

This sparked two traditions:

1. Gifts were now from our pets and included intricate drawings of claw marks and paws on the gift tags. I also got cards from my dog and cards from the cats that detailed the difficulty of wrapping gifts when you didn't have thumbs. I really miss those cards!

2. My parents started breaking bad news by taking us out to dinner. Going to McDonald's? Uh-oh, someone or something died, or you're getting 8 vaccines in the morning.

Judith Slutler

@garseeyalater All of that is amazing. Even McDonalds as harbinger of doom. Some next level psychological conditioning, going on there.

garseeyalater

@Emmanuelle Cunt Haha. Yeah, I see their reasoning...sort of. Like, "yes, bad things happen, but we still have hamburgers, and that's something to celebrate."

heyderpette

"It must be really shitty for specifically non-Christian teachers to have to play along every year..."

Santa is hardly a specifically Christian idea. Whatever Christian roots he has have long since been smothered in tinsel and reindeer poop. Unless mine is the only Christian family to not do the Santa thing, I don't know. But I've never ever tied him with the Christian aspect of Christmas, the baby Jesus and all that jazz. There is Jesus Christmas and Santa Christmas and they are not mutually exclusive. You can do one without doing the other.

itiresias

@heyderpette Yeah. My family has Christian roots, but other than my grandma we're all agnostic, and we do the Santa ordeal for funsies and reindeer poop. Growing up it was always a seperate special thing that my grandma had a Nativity set and other Jesus things.

Homestar Runner

@heyderpette

Yes, but there's a difference between "specifically non-Christian" and "not specifically Christian." I'm atheist with a Christian ethnic background ("not specifically Christian"), so we did Santa Christmas with very little pretense at Jesus Christmas. But what about a Muslim teacher or a Jewish teacher ("specifically non-Christian") who doesn't do ANY kind of Christmas and is put in this weird position of lying / playing along in their workplace?

stonefruit

@Homestar Runner Yes, thank you. This is precisely right. And I think trying to separate Santa from Christianity, when he's a major symbol of a major Christian holiday, is artificial at best.

nogreeneggs

My sisters and I used to always leave milk, cookies and a note for Santa and it never really phased me to get a note back and to see the milk and cookies gone. But one year we left carrots for his reindeer and it blew my mind when the carrots were munched on the next morning because OMG THERE WAS A REINDEER IN MY HOUSE LAST NIGHT! I think my mom even signed some of the gifts from Prancer or whoever, as a thank you for the carrots haha.

My family still does Santa even though my sisters and I are all in our 20s now. It’s just a fun silly thing we do, even the pups get gifts from him! Plus I think my family is just really into the spirit of Santa and general holiday fun. Like once I finally could no longer fight the fact that he was not real my parents let me help them be Santa on Christmas Eve and it was so exciting because it was like this nice secret I got to be in on AND stay up late! It was basically like someone up thread said, we are ALL Santa.

I do vividly remember though in like 5th or 6th grade pretending to not Believe around all my friends, because that was the cool thing to do. But I definitely still did Believe, in my secret heart of hearts.

garseeyalater

@nogreeneggs I too denied Santa when I still believed, and all for the sake of looking cool! The same reason I bought a pair of metallic silver glitter clogs in 5th grade!

nogreeneggs

@garseeyalater Ugh peer pressure, how early you rear your ugly head!

Blushingflwr

@nogreeneggs I was Santa for my doll when I was little, because I wasn't ready to let go of Santa but I did know that he was really my parents and I didn't have any younger siblings to help with.

nogreeneggs

@Blushingflwr I love that!

hungrybee

I'm a little confused about the dislike of Elf on the Shelf. I get that it's a commercialized thing and that's a bit off-putting, but didn't anybody else have the tradition where elves were watching them, throughout the year even? I mean, I distinctly recall being told that Santa's elves were watching me misbehave at the swimming pool in July. My cousins and friends all knew about this too, so it wasn't just my parents.

nogreeneggs

@hungrybee My personal dislike for the Elf of the Shelf is based solely on his terrifying looks. Like, I await an Elf on Shelf centered horror movie any day now where the Elf is shown to be a homicidal maniac. He haunts my dreams basically.

Blushingflwr

@hungrybee I definitely grew up with the idea that Santa was always watching and that being good in December didn't cut it if you'd been naughty all year long (though I was always a good kid). I think I would hear "Christmas is coming" even in the summer.

I think partly the dislike of Elf on the Shelf is a "kids these days" thing, and partly it's the commercialization and also a lot of people find the doll creepy and very big-brother-y. I think it would be cuter if the elf dolls were handmade. I can imagine that it would be neat to have a family of elves that were different and made for each member of the household.

TheLetterL

@hungrybee I find Elf on the Shelf terrifying (also, the theme song), and all the little tableaus I've seen are either nauseating or creepy. It is also the perfect opportunity for annoying one-upping, I'm-doing-Christmas-better-than-you-ing.

On the other hand, I could totally get behind using Elf on the Shelf subversively, just to mess with teens or adults.

stonefruit

@hungrybee I mean, I think I'm alone in this, but every picture I see of that doll's face, I think: this doll looks like a pervert. A mass-murdering pervert. I just can't figure out why they made such a terrifying-looking face.

Punk-assBookJockey

@hungrybee I personally just feel like there is enough, as someone else mentioned above, insistence that THIS THING IS YOUR TRADITION NOW surrounding the holidays without elves on shelves in my house, coupled with the fact that it is a manufactured good for sale in store near you. We already have to play along with the Santa thing, and everyone does lights and trees, and I like all these things! But we have our traditions, or a pleasant lack of them, and I don't really need anyone getting upset about another thing that some people don't do. If someone wants to do it I'm not going to say anything to them, but I wouldn't do it for my (future) kids, because family traditions that are original just mean more than one you bought, to me.

nogreeneggs

@stonefruit You are certainly not alone in that feeling. Like, I feel like the toy makers had the opportunity to not make him look like he will murder your family and steal your soul, and they chose not to take it. Too dramatic? I don't think so.

Also, a lady in my office was telling me last year that another mom at her kids' school was bragging about all the messes and mischief the "Elf" makes in her house and how the kids think it is sooooo funny. My coworker was like 'wait...so on top of decorating and all the traditional Christmas stuff you do; you also destroy things in your own house, thus creating additional work for yourself? No thanks.' It definitely seems like just additional unnecessary work that invisible elves do not require.

plonk

if you're an imaginative, bookish, and also reasonably perceptive kid, you get really used to the feeling of things being real to you but not real in real life. i figured out the truth about santa gradually and it was super non-traumatic, i think because it was about the same as looking up and going about your day after being super-immersed in a book. it's fine!

Ophelia

@plonk Ooh, that is an EXCELLENT way of describing this phenomenon.

PistolPackinMama

@plonk YES!

I still want the dresses the Twelve Dancing Princesses wear in Errol LeCain's edition of the story. And I know perfectly well fairy stories aren't real, being 36 and rational and all. BUT WHAT IF THEY WERE?!

par_parenthese

Ooh, I have thoughts. We never did Santa -- my dad is so tender-hearted that the idea of misleading us, even for a "fun" purpose, was just antithetical to his nature (exhibit B: he made up a tickle monster that we had to tell to wake up and go to sleep so that he would never, ever tickle us past the point where we wanted tickling, because he was sweetly horrified by the alternative). What we did, though, was learn about Father Christmas and Pere Noel and Sinter Klaas and the real Saint Nicholas and the stories around him, and how people were inspired by his generosity to give gifts in his honor. And then we got presents from Mommy-Claus and Daddy-Claus at Christmas. Which was fantastic.

BUT!! I ALSO grew up with people who were all, "SANTA IS AN ANAGRAM OF SATAN. COINCIDENCE? I DON'T THINK SO." Actually, they probably didn't know the word "anagram" or the word "coincidence," but something like that. They basically thought that Santa was a tool of Satan to distract people from The Reason for the Season (TM) and that "celebrating" Santa was tantamount to helping Satan take over the world, thus precipitating the return of Christ, which, I never understood the problem there because isn't that what they want anyway? FUNDIES BE CRAZY.

fondue with cheddar

@par_parenthese I like how Santa being an anagram of Satan is significant, but God being an anagram of Dog is not.

rimy

@par_parenthese Santa=Satan: Yeah, the Pentecostal church I was raised in did NOT allow Santa ANYthing. Trick or treating was forbidden, too. My parents were a little more liberal about the holidays though, thank god.

area@twitter

@fondue with cheddar
Away in the kitchen
not allowed on the bed,
The little dog Jesus
raised up his furred head.
The aunt in the guest room
came down Christmas Day,
to little dog Jesus
snout-deep in souffle.

Nicole Cliffe

Your dad sounds adorable.

fondue with cheddar

@area@twitter Mmm...sacrilicious.

area@twitter

@fondue with cheddar "I know I shouldn't eat Thee, but..."

TARDIStime

@area@twitter
I love this so much I want to marry it.

area@twitter

@TARDIStime Oh, you. ::blush::

redheaded&crazy

wait ... SANTA'S NOT REAL?!

redheaded&crazy

@redheaded&crazie played out dude. way played out.

redheaded&crazy

on a more serious note, I didn't know christmas was a Christian holiday! I thought it was in celebration of the birth of capitalism.

Santa Claus being the Holly Jolly Consumerist who spreads joy to all the world via increasing economic growth at the end of the year...

fondue with cheddar

@redheaded&crazie Santa: putting retail in the black for over 100 years.

likethestore

@redheaded&crazie As far as I'm concerned Christmas is about the birth of Santa.

TARDIStime

@likethestore This is what I truly believed until 1 (horrifying) year at Catholic School.

Hamburger Hot Dog

In first grade, a kid in my class told us that he fell out of bed on Christmas Eve and Santa stepped on him and that was how he knew Santa was real. He said he had a Santa footprint on the back of his pyjamas and everything. I remember us all being very convinced, like - Santa footprint? Who's going to argue with that?

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Hamburger Hot Dog I mean, adults are still convinced they've found Bigfoot based on footprints, so this point is valid.

likethestore

I work with kids and I mean, I knew kids believed in Santa before I started my job but man, they REALLY, REALLY believe in Santa. It's hilarious and sort of sad? I want to be like "You're a smart kid, do you honestly believe a strange bearded man comes into your house at night and leaves you presents? You freak out if there's a spot on your apple juice glass but this you're okay with." But no, that would be ruining the magic or whatever. It's definitely food for thought for when I have my own kids.

emmycantbemeeko

I never believed in Santa that I can remember. I saw wrapped presents in the closet, and I knew we didn't have a chimney, and I remember asking my mother at a very young age, "Santa isn't real, right?" and she told me that no, he was just a nice story that made Christmas fun.

I continued to be as overjoyed and wonderstruck at receiving gifts on Christmas morning as any child would be. My mom still put "from Santa" on them (and still does) and I think it's cute. We also got oranges and chocolates in our shoes on St. Nicholas day, and saffron buns and cookies on St. Lucia's Day. I went to a Lutheran grade school and didn't realize the latter two practices weren't widespread Christmas traditions until a fairly late age, but I loved them. There was never any attempt on the part of the adults doing these things to convince us that they were anything more than stories- important stories with lessons, but no pressure to take them as literal histories.

What was *not* awesome was being put in time out for telling another child at daycare that Santa wasn't real. Social ostrascization for denying popular mythology... I guess it was a good practice run for being a grown-up atheist.

Seriously though, despite the lifelong lack of Santa Magic, and despite being an atheist, I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE Christmas, and I always have. I think it's ugly when adults intentionally disabuse children of stories they enjoy, but it's even uglier when adults punish children for not believing stories. It's not "childhood wonder" if it's forced on pain of discipline, and it's weird that some people get SO CRAZY about it. Because believing in Santa (or anything mystical) is really not at all prerequisite to loving the shit out of Christmas. I speak from experience!

rimy

@emmycantbemeeko Your last paragraph = seconded!

aubrey!

@emmycantbemeeko Yep, same here. I knew Santa wasn't real for as long as I remember, and I'm pretty sure I didn't lack wonder or imagination.

And I also told other kids about it and was so upset when I was punished because I was an absurdly moral (some might say sanctimonious) child and I was being punished for not lying!

likethestore

Also, I feel like we should talk about what happens when you wise up to the fact that Santa isn't real: turning into greedy little bastards who beg and whine for the coolest toys, presenting your parents with exhaustive wishlists, breaking into your mom's closet and looking at everything she bought you weeks before Christmas, crying on Christmas Day when you count presents and realize your big sister got more than you and it's all your mom's fault (maybe that was just my family). Santa seems like the better option, perhaps.

par_parenthese

@likethestore I know your comment was pretty tongue-in-cheek, but I think it's a reality for a lot of other families. We never did Santa and I think my parents headed that shit off really well. They allowed in-passing comments about what we might like for Christmas, in the vein of, "Mom, I love that __________. Just, you know, in case you didn't know what to get me for Christmas" ONLY, never wish lists or whining or gimme-gimme. They always talked with us from the time we could understand English about how rude it is to ask for gifts, how they always got us both fun things and necessities, how they didn't work really hard all year long so we could be greedy and ungrateful for what we were given... which sounds Way Harsh, Tai, but they said it in such a nice loving parental way. I remember pouting occasionally pre-Christmas knowing I wasn't going to get Trendy Expensive Toy, but I was never, never disappointed on Christmas morning.

Oh, and our present-opening strategy (which I now realize was as much about my dad not going berserk from OMG PRESEEENNNNNNNTS SQUEEEEEEE as it was about trying to instill some good values in us) remains One Present At A Time, One Person At A Time, All Eyes On The Present-Opener. And the youngest child in the family who can read is Kid-Claus, the much-coveted role of present-passer-outer. I think traditions like that make it easier on kids to do the stuff you get after them to do for the rest of the year, like focus on other people for five seconds, show gratitude for what they have, thank people who give them stuff, etc.

likethestore

@par_parenthese Haha, I wish it was tongue in cheek. We were spoiled brats I guess. To paraphrase David Sedaris, spending time with family is fine but we preferred things of real value.

Bebe

So....I am 40 and still haven't told my parents I know it's them, and therefore still get presents from Santa. I have no intention of giving that up now - Santa has excellent taste in wine and jewelry.

TARDIStime

@Bebe Your parents are the best Santa ever!

Minx

I clung to my Santa belief as long as I good, even arguing with my older brother when he pointed out that Santa's handwriting was extraordinarily similar to Mom's. But eventually I could not avoid the fact that many of the toys from Santa were clearly marked "Made in China." I was not traumatized though. And to this day, my mother and father have still never said outright that Santa isn't real. We all continue to attribute Santa presents to Santa, and my brothers and I still get said Santa presents. When we were kids we got quite a few Santa gifts, but now we pretty much just get the stocking, which is fine by me. I'm just surprised to still be getting the presents in the first place.

Also, Elf on the Shelf is just plain creepy. The idea of a little doll creeping around the house while I'm sleeping is just unsettling. Maybe my kids would be fine with the idea, but I just can't do it.

Miss Maszkerádi

Potentially unpopular opinion: My parents always made sure that I never, ever, ever believed literally in Santa, the Tooth Fairy, Easter bunny or any of the other magical-creature staples of childhood. And it actually sucked. I remember being five years old or so and having the acute sense that I was missing out on a fundamental part of being five. I looked around at the other kids who actually believed in Santa (well, and God, but that's another rant) and was aware that they were having normal childhoods, that kids were supposed to be allowed to believe in magic, or that parents were supposed to play along while the kids pretended to believe. I felt like I was about forty, and was nostalgic for a vanished youth and never-achieved innocence. At five. Then again, I was a strange child and have always been some sort of walking Chekhov play.

mlle.gateau

THOUGHTS:

1. SANTA?! I KNOW HIM!!! (Buddy the Elf is the only elf I can get behind)

2. HOW HAS NO ONE TAKEN THIS OPPORTUNITY TO DISCUSS AT LENGTH THE MAGIC THAT IS THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL?!!?! I have two favorite Christmas movies, and they are Christmas Vacation (because it's true) and the Muppet Christmas Carol (because it makes me feel warm and fuzzy and Christmassy inside). I am one of those sad people who is afraid to buy a DVD of it because the Amazon reviews claim that they leave out the scene with "The Love Is Gone." That movie is my absolute FAVORITE. "Light the lamp, not the rat!"

anachronistique

@mlle.gateau THE GREATEST CHRISTMAS MOVIE OF ALL TIME. Michael Caine! Gonzo Dickens! "It is the AMERICAN way! ....it is the BRITISH way!"

I feel like the DVD actually offers both versions but I could be wrong? I'd have to check and I'm at work. Instead of watching Muppet Christmas Carol. UGH.

Edmon

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