Growing up I loved Christmas. (Growing up I loved everything about childhood so how did I become such a cynical person? I suspect being married to the king of the cynics doesn’t help).
Back to the point: growing up I LOVED Christmas. I loved the magic. I loved the wait. I loved the houses decorated with Christmas lights that as a small, approved talkative child, my family told me to count as a means to shut me up in the car. A habit that turned into Christmas Light OCD. A habit I couldn’t break until I was 18 and had to close my eyes when I was in the car at Christmas to force myself to stop counting. Even now I break out into a bit of a sweat when I am in the car around Christmas.
Still, I loved Christmas and remember being filled with wonder and anticipation about Santa every year. As a result I held onto Santa for a really… really… really long time. That day, standing in Jenny Cowan’s garage looking at the bag of wrapped presents from Santa – a good two weeks before Christmas – proof of what Jenny had been trying to convince me of for years, I finally admitted to myself a couple hard truths I tried so hard to ignore: Santa wasn’t real and if Jenny was getting a bra for Christmas I probably needed one too.
I was devastated (on both accounts).
Since then I haven’t know what to think about the whole Santa myth. I mean, I had fooled myself so thoroughly. I remember as a child lying in bed Christmas Eve in a total panic – and pain – because I had to pee. However, going to the bathroom meant I could see the Christmas tree from the stairs and OH GAWD what if I saw Santa and he took away everything? (Seriously, who told me Santa took it all back if you peeked?) I solved this problem not by believing what everyone else was already telling me but by asking my parents to move the tree downstairs the next year.
I always wondered what I would do when I had a child of my own. Do we go along with the Santa myth or do we raise the annoying child who goes around setting all the other children straight about this whole Santa Claus guy? (Also, why do I have to over analyze and make things so difficult for myself? Why can’t I just let things be what they are and not have to question everything to death?)
As a non-Christian I sometimes feel like an imposter with this whole Christmas thing. I know that there was a holiday here before the Church usurped it but I still feel kind of weird about it all. That being said there are things I still love about Christmas – the tree, the baking, the visiting, the watching It’s A Wonderful Life by myself while the Mister gags and makes snide comments from the other room. Of course, there are things that bring on the yearly panic attack that has me scouring the bathroom in hopes of finding expired anxiety medication but I’m not going to get into them right now because really, there are things everyone can’t stand about Christmas.
So I was talking to my sister about my Santa dilemma. My sister who is almost 10 years older than me and who played a very large part in making Christmas special when I was a child and everyone else was bordering on adulthood and didn’t give a crap about Santa. My sister who repeatedly reminds me that she stayed up all night to put together the Barbie Western Star Camper I was getting one year because you don’t just shove a box under the Christmas tree – you assemble the toys before hand. (Plus I think we know who really wanted that Barbie Camper). Amanda said she thinks of Santa as a fairytale – and that right there just put it into perspective for me.
You see, I don’t want to deny Moira the magic of childhood because that time – that magical time where you aren’t completely tainted by other people unloading their emotional baggage on you – is so freaking short it isn’t even funny. I think by not playing along with the Santa myth I would be doing just that. Children usually come to these conclusions in their own time – for some of us it takes longer than others – and so I’m going to have to let Moira decide how long she is willing to believe. We aren’t going to go crazy. We are never going to be those parents who go into debt trying to “give their kids everything.” I suspect Christmas will still be a quiet event around here and I have more to say on that subject but for today it is enough to realize that Santa is coming and we had better be prepared.