December 22, 2008

Me and Santa

I’m not sure I ever believed in Santa Claus. At least, I cannot remember believing in him and I especially can’t remember a moment when I passed from Santa-believer to Santa-denier. And it’s not that I would consider myself skeptical or wise beyond my years - I don’t remember ever looking down on mistaken classmates, at least those who gave him up at a respectable age. Of course, if you were still telling people in middle school what Santa brought you, I would have been happy to ridicule you.

My parents never told us about Santa Claus. They still took us to sit on his lap at the mall, which was a not-so-covert way of getting us to spill what we wanted for Christmas. One time we went to Rogers Plaza, back when people still went to Rogers Plaza, and when I met Santa I told him I had seen him crossing 28th street a few minutes before. I was on to him.

I think we always knew that the presents under the tree were from Mom and Dad. (Probably because the tags said “From: Mom and Dad.”) And whatever shred of Santa-belief that may have conceived in me would have been quickly debunked by my older brother, with whom I shared a bedroom. He was happy to dispel rumors of fairy tales, introduce me to popular music, and write on my face with markers while I slept.

My parents always made sure we knew that the reason for the season –it should go without saying that the Easter Bunny never stood a chance in our house – was because Jesus was born, and it was cause for celebration. Dad still reads the opening chapter of Luke before we ever touch a gift. When you’re six, it’s agonizing because you know there’s a big wheel or some Legos under there somewhere and you’re dying to get at them. Now that I have all the Legos a man could ever dream of, I can appreciate it a little more. Even after I’ve heard it 23 times.

Still, I really like the Santa Claus story. There are lots of variations of it, but most of them have in common the idea of a guy, usually with a beard, who generously doles out gifts for good kids. Here’s a hastily compiled summary I gathered from Wikipedia: We call him Santa Claus, but he also goes by Saint Nick (Saint Nicholas, of Myra, put coins in peoples shoes). Or “Sinterklaas” is the Dutch variation – kids leave their shoes out for coins/candy/gifts, and leave carrots or hay for his horses (much more reasonable than flying reindeer). Then there’s Kris Kringle, which we got from Christkindel (“Christ Child”) the Austrian variation which has him as a shorter/younger person who gives gifts to the good kids and is accompanied by another guy who (yikes) beats the naughty ones or takes them away in his sack.

The good kid/bad kid gift ultimatum may or may not have been invented by parents, but I’m sure they helped give it wheels. Doesn’t matter where you live, Santa Claus/Kris Kringle/Sinterklaas/Saint Nick is an effective deterrent for naughtiness.

Beyond that, there isn't a whole lot to say about Santa Claus that hasn't already been said a million times before.

Merry Christmas,

jim

1 comment:

lbcarizona said...

a. i'm quite surprised as your basic premise of never actually believing in santa. i can't understand honestly what that would be like...

b. will you teach your kids about santa? or somehow try to straddle the Truth and the world's biggest lie?

c. i cried, no, sobbed the day i asked too many invasive questions about the logic of santa and my mom told me. i had to stifle my tears because my little brother was in the shower and he still didn't know. terrible day.

d.remind me to ask you these things when i see you in two days...that's the point of this comment. we have a better chance of you remembering than me. see ya soon.