My Beef with Santa

I never grew up with Santa and my best friend calls me a holiday grump.

I just find it lamentable anyone finds it justifiable to systemically lie to children. Or really to lie to children at all. While there are times to couch information appropriate for age and maturity, you can still always be honest in the doing.

“Mommy, where do babies come from?” “Honey, when mommy and daddy come together, a baby is formed in the mommy’s tummy.”

“Mommy, why is Uncle John drunk all the time?” “Honey, Uncle John has things from his past he needs to fix and chose a bad way to deal with those feelings. There are healthy ways, like … A, B & C.”

“Mommy, what happened to Slippy?” “Honey, Slippy got hurt real bad and he died. We buried him. And while he’s gone today, we’ll never forget the time we had with him.” (Hug moment)

“Mommy, all my friends say Santa is real. Is Santa real?” “Honey, Christmas is a time to appreciate the greatest gift our faith gave to the world — Jesus Christ and the promise of redemption. We celebrate his birth and the lesson that giving is better than receiving. Santa Claus is based on a real person, but he is not alive today. We can learn from him, though, and give to those in need. So tomorrow, we will … etc.”

I’m not a holiday dud. I’m a recycled bullshit dud. I don’t like obsession with shopping for Christmas gifts for people, depleting your bank account because your family expects you to get a gift for everyone, or the concept that the happiness on a child’s face somehow justifies your complete lack of decorum throughout the process.

I’m all for giving gifts, but being the minimalist I am, I think when you set a precedent for your children that getting what you want has anything to do with giving to those in need, you spoil them in more ways than one.

A personal wish for my own family — not a tradition I necessarily advocate for others — is every year, at the end of December, everyone in the family draws a name for one other family member. Everyone then spends the entire year preparing a gift for that other member that meets a few main criteria: The recipient should be able to remember roughly when they received it, from whom they received it, and it must not be easily acquired or made. For example, should my future wife love carved wooden horses, I might spend all year learning to carve a horse for her. Or if she liked rare porcelain dolls, I might spend my time searching for it.

The idea is that we spend more time considering what we’re giving than receiving.

There were times in my life where I had little to nothing. One christmas I got a bike, but everything else I got from the dollar store. I’ve had Christmas dinners at Denny’s and Waffle House. I’ve spent holidays on the road, and not always traveling to some big dinner or family waiting.

It’s because I didn’t have the best holidays I feel Christmas should really be more than an annual excuse for pigging out and getting crap. I don’t want to start singing Christmas carols two weeks before Thanksgiving, I don’t give a rip about Black Friday, I don’t care about decorating the house as soon as my T-giving food coma is over.

If you really value Christmas, make it special. Not for it’s flair, but for its meaning.

Santa Claus is a cheap replacement for the true concept of the gift of forgiveness and redemption. Even if you don’t believe or even like Jesus, the idea of finding solace, forgiveness and saving grace is so very powerful that to cheapen it with a fat man who travels the world in a single night to bring crap to children is an insult to what Christmas really means.

How many children do you know appreciate most Christmas toys past the first two weeks? Then it’s on to something else all the other kids want that they.

I consider my LACK a much more powerful gift than my receipt. There were christmases I got CD players and a Playstation and toys. There were times I got little to nothing, and while my mom always wanted to give us more, I can look back today and be more than grateful that we had hard times and I didn’t get everything I wanted.

Like failure, lack is a powerful state of being. Its austere nature bares the soul to necessity and true appreciation. No spoiled child is as ever satisfied with his hundred christmas presents as is the 7-year-old orphan who gets a hot meal during the winter cold.

I do have a beef with Santa, because he cheapens true depth. I won’t tell your children he isn’t real, but I won’t advocate him to my own. I don’t believe a child’s happiness depends on a lie about a fat man coming to give them crap.

I think learning to give is a far more powerful gift, indeed.