Most men and women, before they embark on the glorious journey that is marriage, have necessary and important conversations. The most important, possibly, is the “are we gonna have kids?” conversation. Such a talk might go something like this:
“So, how many kids do you want?” she asks.
“Two is good,” he replies.
“I want five,” she says.
“Three it is,” he compromises.
“Fine,” she says. “So are we gonna do the Santa Claus thing or what?”
“I really could care less.”
“All right, then! Let’s do this thing!”
At least, that was pretty much the conversation John and I had. And then, ha ha to him, we had twins.
I don’t ever remember ever believing in Santa Claus, although my younger brother and sister did, and I do recall delightly in the consumption of the cookies they left out for Santa after they went to bed. After they grew up, I couldn't wait to do the Santa Claus thing with my own kids, and now I delight in eating the cookies they leave out for Santa. It is good, clean fun. A little fattening.
As I got older, it seemed every parent or parent-to-be had opinions about the jolly old white-bearded man with the wicked cool red winter suit. Some believed he distracted from “the true meaning of Christmas.” Others didn’t like lying to their kids. We all know I have no quandaries about lying to my kids, so that brings us to “the true meaning of Christmas.”
As fellow blogger Michelle recently pointed out, Christmas did not begin as a religious holiday and nowhere in the bible does it indicate Christ’s birth should be celebrated. (Let’s put Christ back into Christmas really doesn’t make sense- he was never there in the first place.) Christmas was initially a holiday that celebrated winter solstice; Christmas as we know it today is simply Christianity’s reaction to a popular pagan holiday. (Jesus was actually born in the fall.)
Santa Claus, on the other hand, is based on a bishop lauded and subsequently sainted for his extravagant gifts to the poor. (This was before the Reformation.) The idea of Santa Claus actually has roots in Christianity. Christmas, um, doesn’t really so much.
I love Christmas. I love the carols, I love the story of Jesus’ birth, I love nativity scenes and lights on the houses and the smell of Christmas trees and decking the halls and all that stuff. I applaud Christians for turning Christmas into their own celebration of the greatest event in the history of the world.
I also love to spur my children’s imagination. Is there a greater gift than a really good, really primed, imagination?
One of my favorite books is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The main character is a poor little girl who lives in the Bronx. No, I’m kidding. She lives in Brooklyn.
See? I have a compulsion.
Anyways, she is a “storyteller” and these two paragraphs illustrate her parent’s differing opinions about spurring on their daughter’s fledgling imagination:
Lately, she (Francie) had been given to exaggerating things. She did not report happenings truthfully, but gave them color, excitement and dramatic twists. Katie (her mother) was annoyed at this tendency and kept warning Francie to tell the plain truth and to stop romancing. But Francie just couldn’t tell the plain undecorated truth. She had to put something to it.
Although Katie had this same flair for coloring an incident and Johnny (her father) himself lived in a half-dream world, yet they tried to squelch these things in their child. Maybe they had a good reason. Maybe they knew their own gift of imagination colored too rosily the poverty and brutality of their lives and made them able to endure it. Perhaps Katie thought that if they did not have this faculty, they would be clearer-minded; see things as they really were, and seeing them loathe them and somehow find a way to make them better.
The next chapter, noticeably, begins with: Christmas was a charmed time in Brooklyn.
Caleb is slowly putting two and two together. He was pretty sure the Santa Claus we saw on the street last week isn’t the same one that made an appearance at his school. He asks me strange questions, like:
“When Santa sees a reindeer in the woods, does he grab it so he’ll have even more reindeer on his sleigh?”
“No. I think he’s happy with the eight he has.”
“But wouldn’t more reindeer make him go even faster?” Caleb asked.
“I really couldn’t say.”
“Nine. There are nine reindeer. You forgot Rudolph.”
“Yes. I guess I did. Nine, then.”
I’m so prepared for the day Caleb no longer believes. I'm prepared for the inevitable accusation that I, ahem, lied. I have a great book to recuse myself of any responsibility: it is called, Santa? Are you for real? The answer is happily non-committal.
In the meantime, I’m truly enjoying watching Caleb work it out for himself.
The Possible's slow fuse is lit
By the Imagination