Archive for December, 2006
When our daughter was 3 years old, we were out with friends of ours, a boy and his mom. We were walking past a Santa Claus set up, and he wanted to go chat with the santa. While he was up there, I asked her if she wanted to go too. She looked at me like I was nuts. “No,” she told me.
She stared intently at the candy cane and looked back at me. “Now you want to go?” I asked.
“Will you go with me?” she asked.
“No,” I snorted, “but I’ll stand right here and watch.”
She frowned, “Okay.” She approached the santa warily and stopped just out of arms reach. She stood there, unsure how it all worked.
He ho ho ho’d and wanted to know what she wanted for Christmas.
“Actually,” she said “we don’t celebrate Christmas.” (“Actually” was her favorite way to start a sentence from ages 2-4).
The jolly act dropped from the santa’s face and he just looked at her perplexed. They stared at each other for a beat in silence. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat.
“You gave my friend a candy cane,” she told the santa matter of factly. “Can I have one?”
He smiled. This he could understand. He handed over a candy cane and she quickly made her way back to us.
“Can I have part of the candy cane and save part for Daddy?” she asked, holding it up triumphantly.
“Ask me after lunch,” I told her.
When she had her first loose tooth she came to me one day wanting to discuss The Tooth Fairy. I was a bit surprised. What was there to discuss? She wanted to know if The Tooth Fairy was real.
This was not a question I had been expecting. It wasn’t just that we didn’t tell her the Santa Claus and Easter Bunny myth, we had explained to her the nature of it, from the start. Yet here she was coming to me about The Tooth Fairy.
“Well,” I asked, “Do YOU think The Tooth Fairy is real?”
She paused for a moment and finally answered, “Yes.”
“Oh, um… why do you think that?” I inquired. I mean, really, why the fuck did she think that?
“When Maiya loses a tooth, she puts it under her pillow and in the morning there is money,” she explained.
“And who do you think put it there?” I asked hopefully.
“The Tooth Fairy.”
Let’s try this another way. “Does Maiya get things from Santa Claus and The Easter Bunny?”
“Do you think Santa Claus and The Easter Bunny are real?” I asked, pretty certain that to this I’d at least get the response I was expecting.
She laughs. “No!”
“Okay, then who do you think gives her the things from Santa Claus and The Easter Bunny?”
“And who do you think leaves money under her pillow when she loses a tooth?” I asked hopefully.
She told me, “The Tooth Fairy.”
This stunning display of non-logic was, well, stunning to me. I was seeing my child in a whole new light, and I did not like it. I was sitting there, no doubt with my mouth hanging open, wondering about the details of the return policy and whether I had kept the receipt for her. I took a deep breath. “What makes you think that?”
She leaned in very close to me and, quietly and slowly, she said something that sounded partialy like she was telling me a secret and a good deal like she was explaining something to a complete idiot, “I. just. think. it. might. be. fun.”
Ah ha. I got it. She wasn’t an idiot. She wanted the fun of pretending, and better yet she wanted money under her pillow. “Oh. Okay.”
So, we did The Tooth Fairy thing. I bought a bunch of books that were tooth related and when she’d lose a tooth and stuck it under her pillow, we’d take the tooth and leave a book and some coins. One time we could not find the tooth, it had slipped beyond reach. That time The Tooth Fairy left a letter explaining that regulation prevented her from leaving something if she could not find the tooth. She would get into trouble. The Tooth Fairy writes backwards, so it can be easily read in a mirror.
She was right. It was sort of fun.
It is that time of year again. “The Holidays” as if these are the only holidays. It is admittedly not my favorite time of the year, mainly as a matter of convenience. I don’t like how crowded the roads around the stores get. I don’t like how crowded the parking lots get. I don’t like how crowded the stores themselves get. I also don’t care for the vibe I get from inside stores. Because of all of this, I try to stay in my house as much as possible from Thanksgiving through early January, and that can get rather inconvenient. I find the rest of the year plenty inconvenient enough.
Other things I do enjoy. I enjoy the colder weather at this time of the year. I like it when people carol door to door, but I haven’t had anyone do that in years. I like the decorations that many houses put up, especially the big elaborate homemade ones, and things with lots of sparkly lights. I don’t appreciate the vast aisles of decorations for sale in the stores, but that is just because it displaces normal items and I am stuck wandering around a store I already don’t wish to be in, in search of something that I would normally be able to find rapidly.
The ever growing PC greeting crap going on surrounding the holidays is definitely getting on my nerves. Mainly because it leads to questions. People wishing me some sort of holiday nicety is one thing, people asking me directly about my holiday leanings is not nearly so welcome.
Years ago everybody assumed we celebrated Christmas. People would wish us a Merry Christmas and we would smile and wish them one too. It was a honest sentiment, I certainly didn’t wish them an unMerry Christmas. Whatever form of greeting they wanted to offer, I’d offer them one back. If they wanted to say “Happy Holidays” that was fine by me too. It was easy.
This week somebody started out happily with “Merry Christmas!”
“You too.” I responded with a warm smile.
Then she looked concerned and asked “Oh, but do you celebrate Christmas?”
Not liking to lie directly, I inwardly sighed, and told her still with a smile. “No, we don’t.”
“Oh, then I shouldn’t say that!”
“Of course you should, it is a nice thing to wish us.”
“Happy Hanukkah! Should I say that? Do you celebrate Hanukkah?”
This was going exactly they way I did not want it to, but still smiling I told her, once again, that we did not. The look of confusion passed over her face. The look I’ve seen many times before.
“Well, what do you celebrate?” she asked with concern.
“Just the season,” I lied, or at least half lied. I mean, we celebrate New Years.
“I don’t want to be inappropriate!” she called after us.
It isn’t a secret that we don’t celebrate Christmas, but I am not going to have t-shirts printed either. It’s our personal choice. It works for us. It isn’t meant as a judgement on anybody else. It also isn’t something that I want to converse about endlessly with people as they go about their merry business. People are often curious however, so I might as well write it up once and then I can point people to it. Like with many aspects of our lives, there are several reasons behind our choice.
I don’t believe in Santa Claus. I was brought up on Santa Claus. By the age of five I had serious doubts. It didn’t make sense to me, and yet my parents, both of them, had been telling me about Santa Claus. I left out snacks for this guy. Were they making it up? Were my parents the giver of gifts from Santa Claus? Were my parents eating the snacks? I began to question them as Christmas approached the year I was in kindergarten. They decided they were not ready to give up on the Santa Claus myth yet. One night while both parents were in the kitchen with me, Santa Claus gave me a call on the phone to reassure me that he was real, and he’d be leaving me gifts for Christmas. This bought my parents two more years before they were forced to admit the truth. It also had a lasting affect on just how much I believed what they had to tell me.
I also just happen to think it is a creepy idea. I don’t want people breaking into my house, whether they be taking things or leaving things. I don’t like the idea of children sitting on random strangers laps at the mall. I also don’t think milk should be consumed after it has been sitting outside of the fridge for half the night, but that is just a whole other issue I have.
I want my kid to behave because she should damn well behave herself. That is what is good for the family. That is what is good for society. That is what is good for her. It is certainly what is good for me, and that is pretty damn important to me. I do not want her to behave because there is some man watching her all the time who knows if she has been bad or good or naughty or nice or whatever. I don’t want her to behave better because she thinks she might get presents. I just want her to behave because she would be disappointed in herself if she didn’t. Furthermore, why should a guy in some red suit who lives almost half the globe away be determining what behavior is appropriate for her to start with?
I say “I” not because this was a unilateral decision, but because I don’t want to speak for my husband on precisely what his experiences were (especially those before we met) or current beliefs are. We spoke about the issue and made the no Christmas decision as a team. We came into the relationship still celebrating and we did celebrate some together, but we decided to stop. We stopped before our daughter was born.