I never believed in Santa Clause.
There are a number of reasons why my mother didn't play the Santa Clause game. All were good reasons and I respect her decision to this day. Here are a couple of her reasons:
- My mother used to wear a brooch during the holidays that said, "Jesus Is The Reason For The Season". She wanted us to celebrate Jesus' birth and the gifts we received were simply symbolic of the gifts brought that night to the manger by the three wise men. She taught us of the evils of rampant consumerism and to be genuinely thankful for each gift we were given.
- My mom was a single mom and she worked hard for every single thing we had. Why should she be expected to write the name of some fictitious entity on the gift tag when she'd either worked extra hours, away from her kids, to buy it or stayed up late, sacrificing precious sleep, to make us the quilt we'd cherish for years to come. She wasn't about to let Santa steal her thunder.
How did this affect her children? I don't think it had any real ill effect on us, nor did it make us exceptionally well-balanced or anything. And though I respect her decision to not foster a childhood belief in Santa Clause, both my older brother and I have decided to
When I was in the first-grade, I felt superior to my classmates, because I knew there was no Santa. I had not been "lied to" my entire life and felt that my friends had been done an extreme injustice. I probably shouldn't have been able to watch so many episodes of Perry Mason as a kid.
On one specific playdate, I was bound and determined to prove once and for all that my classmate from school, Valerie, had been mislead into believing a horrible and malicious lie. It was a mass conspiracy involving her parents and that strange, creepy man in the red suit at the mall who's lap she'd sat on. *shudder* Clearly I was doing her a favor.
She asked me, "Then why are there presents under the tree from Santa?"
I answered, "Uh, because your parents put them there."
She simply couldn't believe this was possible.
"Doesn't Santa come on Christmas Eve?" I questioned her.
"Yeah..." she ventured.
"Then why are there already gifts from Santa under your tree when Christmas isn't for another week?!" I exclaimed. I knew I had her there! Who could question such a logical observation?
Apparently I had underestimated the hold that the Santa myth had on poor, mislead Valerie.
"Because Santa can't possibly visit ALL the houses all over the world in one night! He dropped them off here early." she answered confidently.
Obviously this had already been "explained" to her. I launched into an explanation of the "Magic of Santa" and how his ability to visit every single house in the world in one night was part of what made him supposedly "sooooo magical!"
I harnessed all of my six-year old detective skills and asked Valerie to fetch me a sample of her mother's handwriting. I was obviously going to have to bring out the big guns. We sat crouched in her living room, under her decorated Christmas tree. I held a piece of paper, maybe a grocery list, with her mom's handwriting on it next to a gift tag signed, "from: Santa".
Valerie couldn't deny the obvious similarities. She ran crying to her mother.
I was so satisfied with myself. I'd saved one child from a childhood of lies. What a saint I was! Sure I felt a little bad. I didn't want to make my friend cry, but as the saying goes, you have a break a few eggs to make an omelet. Right?
Soon I was face to face with Valerie's mom. She looked at me like I was a horrible child. I'd just undone all the magic she'd worked so hard to create in her daughter's mind. What kind of kid would do that?! "You might not believe in Santa in your house, but in this house, we like to pretend and have fun at Christmas! I'd appreciate it if you'd keep your beliefs to yourself." I shrugged it off and thought, "What a liar!"
But I did always feel a little bad. Poor Valerie. I'm sure the magic of Santa was gone for her, no matter what her parents did to repair the damage I'd done. It also damaged our friendship forever.
I went to a private school the following year and for the year after that. When I returned to the public school system, it was to a different elementary school. And when Valerie and finally met up again in the 7th grade, she was not as keen on rekindling our friendship as I was. I actually almost got into a fist fight with a close friend of hers our Senior year of high school, because I kissed a boy Valerie had a crush on. I didn't even know she liked him. I felt terrible about the whole thing, but it didn't matter. I was clearly a terrible person. Not only did I crush her childhood Christmas fantasies, but I also kissed the boy whom she had a crush on.
And so I'm doing my part to save my kids from being "horrible" like their mom.
I don't want my kids to be terrible crushers of children's dreams. My kids believe in Santa. I hope this atones for the damage I did to poor Valerie's psyche.
For what it's worth, I'm sorry, Valerie. Wherever you are.
(all photos found via Google images)