Get thee behind me, Santa!

December 22, 2008 | 16 comments
By

I know, I know. There’s so much to love about the jolly fella. But he keeps getting in the way. Or not.

Problem 1: Quiz Show

Son: Mom, is Santa real?

Me: What do you think?

Son: I don’t know. Maybe. But is he real?

Me: Some people think so. Some people don’t.

Son: What do you think?

Problem 2: His Dark Materials

Grandparents One: “Please use the check enclosed to purchase a gift for each of the kids from us.”

Grandparents Two: “Please use the check enclosed to purchase a gift for each of the kids from us.”

Grandparents Three: “Please use the check enclosed to purchase a gift for each of the kids from us.”

Great-grandparents One and Two: Rinse and repeat.

Santa: “You’re not going to gyp your kids by denying them a gift from my whimsical workshop, are you?”

Problem 3: Hopelessly bloated for you

Christmas Eve, 11:30 p.m.: The non-Santa gifts are wrapped and under the tree. The stockings hung by the chimney with care are filled with candy and electric toothbrushes, courtesy of Santa (the Soper compromise). The only pre-collapse task remaining is altering the plate of cookies on the table for Fat Man. One or two can be thrown in the garbage, or hidden at the bottom of the Rubbermaid container from whence they were plucked (as long as they don’t have any identifying birthmarks or tattoos). But at least one cookie must be half-eaten, with quasi-human teeth marks readily identifiable. And thanks to the festive weeks-long sugar binge celebrating Satan Santa coming to town which preceeded this moment, even one bite of frosted sprinkled confection will induce a coma lasting until New Year’s.

If Santa cared about preserving his reputation, he’d show up and bite the damned thing for me. Fifteen Christmases in parenthood and I’m still waiting.

Tags:

16 Responses to Get thee behind me, Santa!

  1. Russell Arben Fox on December 22, 2008 at 11:08 am

    Son: What do you think?

    Parent: He’s real, of course.

  2. Kathryn Soper on December 22, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Russell, I was waiting for that.

  3. Julie M. Smith on December 22, 2008 at 11:28 am

    Well, I can help you with #2: combine the checks and use them to buy an experience instead of an(other d#*$ed) object: a nice dinner out, or a musical, or a night at a hotel and a museum, or ice skating, or whatever.

  4. Adam Greenwood on December 22, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    RAF,
    I’m putting together a collection of favorite Christmas posts for posting tomorrow. Your’s features prominently.

  5. Jonovitch on December 22, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    I’ll say it again: I like my old boss’s take —

    Boy: Is Santa real?

    Dad: No, he is not, but it’s fun to pretend, for ourselves and for the younger kids. But Jesus Christ is real, and I want you to know the difference. We don’t pretend about that when we go to church. Now that you know the difference, we can pretend about Santa for the younger kids, and make Christmas fun for them too.

    Or something like that. His point was to make sure his kids knew that he wouldn’t lie to them when they asked (that they could trust what he told them), and to make sure they understood the reality of Jesus Christ, in contrast with the imaginary figure of Santa. He figure it would help his boys when they get around to asking if Jesus is real (“but you said Santa was real, too!”).

    Jon

  6. Kathryn Lynard Soper on December 22, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    bah, humbug. I don’t want advice, I just want to complain!

    And tip my hat to Sufjan Stevens, of course.

  7. Rob Perkins on December 22, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    Daughter: Is Santa real?

    Mother: Ask your father/

    Daughter (with full charms switched on and burning bright): Daddy, is Santa real?

    Father:

    Daughter: Um… OK, Dad. You *do* know, you’re kind of strange?

    Father: Don’t you know? I believe in Santa Claus, and I know that if you don’t believe, then his stuff doesn’t happen.

    Daughter: Oh, I believe! I believe!

  8. Rob Perkins on December 22, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Whoops! How do you put angle brackets in a comment! Trying again…

    Daughter: Is Santa real?

    Mother: Ask your father/

    Daughter (with full charms switched on and burning bright): Daddy, is Santa real?

    Father tells the story of Nicholas of Myra and the shoes and the saving from prostitution.

    Daughter (did I fail to mention, she’s 13?): Um… OK, Dad. You *do* know, you’re kind of strange?

    Father: Don’t you know? I believe in Santa Claus, and I know that if you don’t believe, then his stuff doesn’t happen.

    Daughter: Oh, I believe! I believe!

  9. Kathryn Lynard Soper on December 22, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Wow, Rob! Some people tell their kids “If you don’t believe, you get no presents,” but this approach really turns up the heat!

    :)

  10. CS Eric on December 22, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    I wasn’t sure about Santa unitl about 15 years ago when one of our nieces came to visit us in Albuquerque. Her name is Jenica, but we always call her “Jen” or use her nickname “Jake.” She was 8 or 9 years old at the time, and starting to doubt. One day while she was with us, we went to the local mall, and since the line was pretty short, she went to see him. As soon as she sat on his lap, he greeted her by her given name Jenica, and thanked her for leaving carrots for the reindeer when he came.

    The carrots he could have guessed, but there is no way he could have known her name was Jenica unless he was the real thing.

  11. Dead Seriously on December 22, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    From my neighborhood:

    Kid 1: Santa isn’t real. Your parents lied to you.

    Kids 2-10 in Sunbeams: *gasp*

    Sunbeams Teacher to Kids 2-10: She’s lying, kids, don’t worry.

    Sunbeams Teacher to Parents of Kid 1: You need to reconsider how you teach your children.

  12. Matthew Chapman on December 22, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    When my older kids were old enough to ask, I told them, “When you give a gift to someone, and you don’t tell them who it’s from, then you are Santa Claus.”

    In related fatherly wisdom, I teach them, “We don’t believe in magic. Only miracles.”

    I was getting my 4-year-old ready for his bath, and he asked me, “Papa, are WE real?”

    What would you say?

    http://lydeem.blogspot.com/2005/12/i-believe-in-santa-claus.html

  13. Kathryn Lynard Soper on December 22, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    ah, the preschool metaphysicist! I’ve got one of those too.

  14. Rob Perkins on December 22, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    Har!

    My oldest daughter keeps telling me that nothing seems real anymore. She’s been in her own personal existential crisis for some years now. She’s also the one who resisted me when I took her aside last year and made her reconcile herself to the fact that just because I let her believe a wild fantasy about Santa, doesn’t make him false when the fantasy turns out to be false.

    It’s proof that people are complicated. I hoped to teach her a bit of nuance about faith. So far, it looks like it’s in one ear and out the other, but she’s a very good kid, so there is hope yet.

    #9: What I used to say is, “I believe in Santa Claus. Don’t you? If you don’t, then, sorry, kid, but he’s not coming.” Cavalcades of confessions invariably follow, even from that oldest daughter.

  15. Velikiye Kniaz on December 22, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    Yes, my child, it is very likely that he is real, but people have changed him a lot over time. You see, ‘Santa’ really means saint and ‘Claus’ is actually the nickname for Nicholas. The real Santa Claus was actually the bishop of a small city called Myrna which was in the country we now call Turkey. Nicholas was a very kind, caring and loving bishop for all of the members in his ‘ward’ or church. He was born to a very wealthy family and when his parents died he became a rich man. Nicholas had a very strong testimony of the Saviour and truly believed in Jesus’ teaching that, “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, you have done it unto ME.” So when ever he saw a person or a family in need in his church he took some of his money and secretly gave it to them. One simple way he did this was to put the coins, usually gold or silver, in a small bag with a tie string. He then waiting until the family was asleep and then toss the money through their window. Once, it is said, the bag of coins landed in a sock that was drying out after being washed and this is thought to be how the custom began to hang stockings at Christmas. Throughout his whole life Nicholas continued to give his money away anonymously (secretly) to all that he knew needed it. When he died his fortune was gone but the fame of his kindness and generosity became a legend. It was in the 1800’s when artists began to draw Saint Nicholas without his religious robes and started to show him in a fur trimmed suit. It was the Dutch who called him in their language “Sinta Klaus” and the English who changed this to “Santa Claus”. Saint Nicholas was living the Gospel to the best of his understanding by sharing his wealth with the poor, just as the Saviour gave us all of His wealth, the gift of forgiveness after sincere repentance and the gift of eternal life with Him and our Father in heaven. So when you see the jolly fat man with the long white beard and the red suit, remember that fellow is a bit of a fantasy cartoon character but Saint Nicholas was a real bishop who lived a long time ago and who loved his ‘ward’ members very, very much.

  16. Jonovitch on December 23, 2008 at 11:27 am

    ^ ^ ^ Best explanation ever. I like it. Thanks.

    Jon