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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

An Ugly, Threatening, Punitive Christmas to You, Too

Here I am happily breastfeeding my son, pinning nummies and crochet patterns and humorous memes galore when I am stopped dead in my tracks by this ugliness and I just had to write.

Puke. Puke, puke, puke.

I'm often criticized for not using Santa in our home, but this is one of the myriad reasons we don't. "You're taking all the magic out of your son's childhood," I am told. This is magic, huh? Wow. We have some very different ideas about the meaning of that word or the meaning of the holiday in sum.

What is magical about focusing on the sometimes unseemly behavior kids exhibit, which we ALL exhibit from time to time, but which we, as adults, can control, whereas our kids have yet to develop that ability? What's so magical about threatening them with punishment, which, if you're being honest, is an empty threat anyway, since, c'mon, you're not going to take Christmas away from your kid?

I was watching Jessie with my son the other day. It was a Christmas episode. In it, one of the children learns about Santa for the first time and is, understandably, appalled and terrified. It went a little something like this:

Zuri: "He watches every child all the time. He knows when you've been sleeping. He knows when you're awake."
Ravi: "A fat man is constantly spying on us? Is it just me or is that really creepy?"
Zuri: "No, it's great! Because if you're good, Santa will bring you toys."
Ravi: "But, what if you are bad?"
Zuri: "Don't be."
and later...
Jessie: "Ravi, why do you look so scared?"
Ravi: "Because Zuri told me a horrible tale about this fat, judgmental gnome, a corpulent voyeur obsessed with children and their naughtiness!"
still later...
Ravi: "Please do not provoke Santa's peevish henchman."
Elf: "Get lost, before I convince a certain someone to put these kids on the naughty list!"

I knew there was a reason Ravi was my favorite. He's not wrong.

This horrible Elven citation above spells out exactly what I don't like about the Santa myth. I can't imagine St. Nicholas would've approved of such a bastardization of his legacy.

Say it with me: our kids are good. They are. We may not always like the way they behave sometimes, but I bet they can say the same for us (and probably more often than we'd be comfortable admitting). The behavior is not the person.

So, cashier at the grocery store, don't ask my son if he's a good boy, because we'll both look at you like you've lost your mind and, depending on my mood, you may get a little schooling on the matter. So, parents down the road, please stop using Santa in attempt to control your child's actions. So, you infamous Elf on the Shelf, unless you're doing things that the kids themselves would consider fun without any hint of spying and reporting back to the judge and jury wearing a red suit and beard, sit your butt down and shut up. These are not my ideas of Christmas and if that means I'm ruining the "magic," so be it.


  1. i've always found that elf on a shelf thing to be utterly creepy, in a repellently self-serving way. and unless you're (hopefully NOT) prepared to bring back the krampus/dark helper along with santa and his kin, making the xmas gifts contingent on good behavior seems dodgy. how about we have reasonable, compassionate expectations of good behavior for our kids all the time, model good behavior ourselves, show them respect just as we hope to have them respect us, and not make the yuletide season one of strange coercion? temporarily outsourcing your parenting duties to a spooky santa or elf strikes me as disingenuous...

  2. I agree! While we do incorporate Santa, as well as an Elf on the Shelf, into our holiday fun that is just what they are FUN. My son has no real knowledge of the "naughty or nice list", and our Elf is just his holiday buddy who plays hide and seek and has fun with silly mischief. {We do not even own the book that has all of the elf "rules" in it. In fact, we do the elf all 'wrong', because my son can touch him and play with him. I mean, I did spend money on this thing, my son is going to play with it darn it! *lol*}

    To us, Santa teaches unconditional kindness and exemplifies the spirit of giving with a bit of magic thrown in. I really do not understand why anyone uses him for behavioral manipulation. I mean, I feel I am pretty solid with guiding my son the other 11 months out of the year, why stop all of that in December?