Wednesday, January 20th, 2010
Reinventing Santa for a lifetime
First an example of how ridiculous we have become, and then a suggestion on reinventing Santa as a tradition that survives into adulthood.
For a fee, TheSantaVideo.com superimposes a video of Santa Claus on a photo of your living room as proof that Santa visited your home. ICaughtSanta.com offers the same service, and also still photos.
Thinga-readers seem to agree that we want to prolong the magic of believing in Santa as long as possible, but elaborate deception is too much.
Here’s a question: What if the magic didn’t have to end?
As much has been proposed in a book, The Santa Story Revisited: How to Give Your Children a Santa They Will Never Outgrow. I’ve not read it (yet?), but the gist is this:
Make Santa a game that everyone in the family plays, a pretend fantasy they take an active role in as Santa by anonymously giving gifts from Santa. Children still read stories about Santa, watch Santa films and such, but also fluidly move into the role of playing Santa.
The author’s website uses a lot of words to justify the need to remake Santa and explain the benefits of her new Santa, but reveals very little about her parenting plan. I think that’s a mistake. More books would be sold if parents were completely convinced of the idea beforehand. We’d buy the book for its fine details, such as sample scripts to be used as launching off points for introducing the idea to our children (yes, the book reportedly has talking points).
Here’s a video from the author that demonstrates anonymous gift giving. I found the video a bit cheesy, but also a little inspiring.
The video shows a Pay it Forward system with expectations that other people will be inspired by your gift and then give to others. I think the idea works better as a solo act with no expectations put upon the recipient.
You know, like in the M*A*S*H television episode Death Takes a Holiday where the usually obnoxious Winchester anonymously delivers chocolate bars to the doorstep of an orphanage on Christmas Eve, with the key point of his family tradition being that the gift must be anonymous.
The author mentions the genesis of her Santa idea as coming about when her 3-year-old daughter gave her a gift and labeled it as being from Santa.
I’ve experienced something similar in my home with our daughter at 4- and 5-years-old going from being enchanted by the Tooth Fairy to outright pretending to be the Tooth Fairy — a fantasy world in which she is a teacher among an army of tooth fairies. She avails us of the minute details of how the fairies disembark every night to do their work.
For a time, she also pretended to be an Underpants Gnome, hiding some of our underwear in her closet because that’s what Mom said Underpants Gnomes do.
Looking back through old blog posts I see in I Saw Mommy Killing Santa Claus there was an opportune time to introduce a we-are-all-Santa thought process when the following exchange took place with my then-3-year-old daughter:
Mom: “Is Santa fantasy or reality?”
Daughter: [thought-filled pause] “Fantasy.”
Mom: “Yes, but isn’t it fun to pretend?”
As it turned out, our daughter forgot the conversation and has been a Santa believer ever since.
I still really like teaching the idea that a Decemberween Ogre who comes down from the mountains and gives us toys he has previously pillaged from other homes all because he likes the extra huge socks we have laid out to pay homage to him. I imagine it would stir some interesting conversations at school, but you must agree the story conveniently explains the great disparity in the quality and abundance of toys rich and poor kids receive. If the ogre didn’t like you this year, well, you know, don’t forget he is an ogre. Be happy he didn’t eat your cat.
But alas, I concede that an everyone-as-Santa philosophy is a more enduring tradition to teach.