Thursday, November 8, 2007

the anti-humbug

last night, apropos of nothing, pooka asked me if santa claus was real.

we've had our doubts about her youthful 'illusions', but here it was staring me in the face demanding confirmation. what to do?

aside from allowing the santa claus/easter bunny myths to enter our house at all, it is my custom to never lie to my kids, except when absolutely necessary. (for example, blaming the cat when i've eaten the last goodie.) i'm just not big on deception in general, although i admit i do occasionally neglect to correct misperceptions.

the mythical figures of the two biggest holidays are very difficult to avoid. and they make up such a precious part of childhood. (don't they?) i don't want to ruin pooka's childhood more than it already has been, nor do i want her to ruin another child's in a misguided attempt to share her knowledge.

kisu and i don't really emphasize the fantasy personae of the holidays, but what do you do when all the other channels in your world are spouting about the wonderful gifts brought by big red and floppy ears? or trying to shape behavior by threatening that those two won't bring gifts?

if i come out and break the spell once and for all, she's liable to conclude that all the other adults in her world are either lying to her or delusional.

ironically, pooka's skepticism does not extend to the tooth fairy. but it might be because she loves money enough to believe in anyone or anything who might give her some.

at any rate, last night i managed to avoid rupturing any dreams. i asked her if she thought he was real and she said no. i asked her how that made her feel. she said it made her feel sad because then she wouldn't get toys.

then i got all socratic on her.

"do you think that santa used to be real, but isn't now?"


"did you used to get toys?"


"then don't you think that you'll continue to get toys for christmas?"


at this point her materialistic core was satisfied that she would continue to get loot no matter who supplied it and she went back to watching tv.

i suspect that she isn't really interested in whether santa does now or has ever existed. sometimes i think she starts conversations just because she has a certain idea or phrase she wants stated. (she gets that from me; it gets me in trouble sometimes.) she is that clever.

but i'm not satisfied with the outcome of that conversation. i want to get into what the santa figure represents and the true meaning of christmas. right now, she is ALL about the presents. i know she's young, but i would like her to know that there's more to it than that. i think that there's room, even in young brains, for both ideas.