**WARNING - Spoilers ahead**
You are about to enter another dimension, one that is filled with my opinions and thoughts. It may not be for everyone. I do not ask you to agree. This is not a post for children. Please be prepared, this will be harsh.
Ok........ there is no Santa Claus.
My family (Italian/Portugese) didn’t ‘do’ Santa. I was never raised with the hint of his existence. Gifts were from my family and friends not the chimney crawler. My father’s family used the lore of Befana. A little old woman who would come into your home on Christmas Eve and eat what you had left her (Christmas Eve supper requires at least 9 different foods on the table, at the end of the meal you leave the leftovers out as a gift), and if she liked the array she would leave presents for the family. We always had the 9 items out at Christmas Eve, but we never expected Befana, my father knew she wasn’t real. My mother’s family was poor and they didn’t exchange gifts. They had very little. Their belief was that baby Jesus would bring a small token on Christmas eve to celebrate his birth. A new pair of shoes for Sunday (the only day they would wear shoes) or a ribbon for their hair or perhaps a pair of underwear or socks. That was it.
Growing up, we didn’t do stockings until my "big city" Aunt made them for us. Then instead of hanging them by the chimney with care, and waking up Christmas morning to a plethora of goodies, I would watch as my parents would fill them with nuts, mandarin oranges and candy and then hand one to me on Christmas Day. Definitely not the way they were intended to be used.
Early on, my husband and I decided we were not going to allow our child
to believe in Santa. It wasn’t real or true and to perpetuate a ‘lie’
would be inappropriate. We were very clear with her (at the age that she could understand) that other people did believe in Santa and she could not share the 'truth' (any X-Files fan will know that 'The Truth is Out There') with other people. It was almost a dirty secret that he didn't exist and we couldn't tell anyone or we would be branded as weird.
Many people scoff, guffaw and jaw-drop that we are so blunt with our child. We have always taught her that gifts are given with love from those who love you. We are not about to put great effort into a gift by tracking it down, buying it, wrapping it, sneaking it into the house and then giving someone else credit and saying that it’s from Santa. There’s something wrong with that. The spirit of Christmas is not a jolly St.
Nick. There, I said it.
From our good friends at Wikipedia: “Father Christmas, a jolly, well nourished, bearded man who typified the spirit of good cheer at Christmas, predates the Santa Claus character. He is first recorded in early 17th century England, but was associated with holiday merrymaking and drunkenness rather than the bringing of gifts”. Hmmm….ya, (sarcastic voice) that’s the kinda guy I want in my chimney bringing my kid presents.
As a family we always watch the Santa Clause parade on Main Street, even in gale force winds and 400 below zero(at least it feels that way), and we always know who’s in the suit. Would all the people/kids show up if the fella in the ‘suit’ wasn’t wearing the suit? I would like to think that they would all still show up to celebrate Christmas together. To shop and have hot chocolate and walk around visiting and chatting. Or is the persona of the ‘Claus’ so important that if he’s not there it’s not really Christmas? If that’s the case, that’s sad, at least in my opinion.
They have actually studied the effect that believing in Santa and then learning that he doesn't exist, has on children as they get older. Studies have shown that it doesn't affect the kids. Great news! Very few, if any children, were mortified to the point that it would affect them in later years, most actually thought that since they now knew the 'truth' they were more mature. Quite the social experiment huh?
He doesn’t drink Coke or Tim Hortons coffee, shop at Walmart , Zellers or Radio Shack and he certainly doesn’t know who’s naughty or nice. One would like to think that someone with that much 'power' would use it for the greater good. He is a token of a Christmas festival, a tool that has become a significant player in a key sales period for retailers and businesses. He is a figment of someone’s creation that perhaps came at a time when he was needed.
At this point you may be screaming “Scrooge!” Well now, hang on. Let me finish...
We still hang decorations, listen to festive music, put up a tree, bake cookies and decorate gingerbread houses. We exchange gifts and cards and hugs and watch classic Christmas movies and visit with friends and family and have wonderful memories and oddly enough, Santa never makes an appearance.
We don’t play the Santa ‘game’ in our house, but that doesn’t stop it from being Christmas. The spirit of the season is not in the red suit. I don't think it should be.
I do not judge those that do have Santa in the season, so please don’t judge me. I’m not evil, I simply don’t believe.
I leave you with a quote I discovered recently; “There are three stages of a man’s life: He believes in Santa Claus, he doesn’t believe in Santa Claus, he is Santa Claus” - Author Unknown
Until next time,