Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Perpetuating the Santa Myth

Willow enjoying Christmas 2010.  Note the absence of ornaments on the bottom of the tree.  Also note the glowing eyes behind the blue Lysol box (yeah, we re-use boxes in our house).  Guess who's responsible for the missing ornaments?
I'm a liar.  In fact, probably 99% of the people in this country who celebrate Christmas are liars.  You know what I'm talking about.  Lying to children.  How despicable!  How hypocritical!

We tell our children that lying is bad.  We teach them that honesty is always the best policy.  And then we turn around and participate in the biggest conspiracy that children will ever know.  We have concocted this huge myth concerning Santa--where he lives, what he does, why he does it, how he does it, who helps him--and then we lie to our children in order for them to experience that wonderful, wonderful magic of Christmas.

But....belief in Santa and the magic of Christmas is magic.  I think that by lying to our children and enabling them to experience the magic, that we ourselves experience it, too.  It's why I desperately want to have my youngest daughter believe for as long as I can.  This magic?  It is the magic of innocence.  I don't want my daughter to lose that.  When she no longer believes in magic, that will be the moment she has lost her innocence.  I enjoy her innocence.  I savor it.  I will probably cry when she's lost it.  As long as she believes in Santa, she will believe anything and everything can be possible.  Imagination can still be real.

Willow will be ten years old on Christmas Day.  My son believed in Santa until he was twelve.  I'm not sure if Willow will last until she's twelve, but I sure hope so.  David is very sweet and not telling Willow that Santa isn't real.  In fact, I think he enjoys playing along, too.  He gets to be the grown up while she's still the little kid.  Great.  I've turned my son into a co-conspirator and a liar. 

A few days ago, my daughter and I had an incredible conversation.  It made me feel both happy and guilty at the same time.  Guilty because I was perpetuating the lie and happy because my daughter was still innocent enough to believe it.

The conversation went something like this:

Willow:  "The kids at school told me that Santa doesn't exist. But I told them he does."
Me:  "Really?"
Willow:  "Yeah.  They tried to tell me that he doesn't exist and it's just their parents' writing 'From Santa' on the gifts, but I know that's not true.  Santa writes in cursive.  You don't write in cursive.  I told them that my mom writes in block letters, not cursive."
Me:  "True.  And you're Dad's handwriting is atrocious.  You would know if he was writing on the tags."
Willow:  "Exactly!"

Santa's handwriting is a no-frills cursive.  Kinda masculine--not surprising, since my block lettering is rather masculine.  In fact, my writing looks somewhat like my dad's when I write in all caps.  Now the Tooth Fairy's writing is much more difficult to concoct.  Her writing is very frilly with lots of loop de loops and swoops and curls.  The Tooth Fairy has written to Willow before because of a letter that Willow wrote to her.  Oh, and because Willow's room was so messy that the Tooth Fairy couldn't find the dang tooth.

Willow is convinced the Tooth Fairy is real, too.

I'm going to hell.  I just know it.  But I don't care.  I'm not willing to let go of that magic until Willow pries it from my fingers.