The North American tradition of Santa Claus has not been part of my own upbringing, but I want it to be part of my son's experience. There are both benefits and disadvantages to that. The funny thing is that since it is not something I have grown up with in an organic way, I have to study it along the way, just like studying a foreign language or doing research. And I need to get my stories straight since my son will be in contact with other kids of his age and the topic of Santa Claus is a popular one especially when the festivities are within reach.
Also, and although a wonderful thing but making things somewhat more difficult for me, my son is rather bright for his age and sees through (my) logical inconsistencies. So my wife and I have to get our stories straight. In our version, we have updated and modernized Santa by giving him access to email as opposed to the traditional letter (who writes letters anymore?).
My son is rather humble, which is a good thing, and had only asked for three toys this year since he is worried that Santa's bag has limited space and would not be able to carry sufficient toys for all the other kids out there. I did not dispute that belief, for selfish reasons, of course.
Then the night before Christmas Day, we strategically put up milk and cookie. When my son fell asleep, my wife and I started our secret covert operation of wrapping the gifts in a rush, quietly and under limited lighting with the Mission Impossible theme song looping in my head.
And it seems that we made it through another year without a mishap. My son is not suspecting anything too fishy, and my story is airtight albeit perhaps not completely correct on all accounts. That remains to be seen.
Some oppose the celebration of Christmas. I have heard some criticism of this tradition that one as a parent gets no credit whatsoever and that all of that is transferred to an unknown jolly fat guy in a red and white suit. So be it. Giving presents is not about getting credit for it, but seeing the joy on a child's face is what really counts.
In fact, this whole ordeal and secrecy entices the imagination of both parent and child. Of course, I do feel guilty at times, for lying to my son. I guess Kant would not be good at adhering to Christmas, at least North American style. His son would ask that there is a rumor going around that Santa, as we know him, may be a fabrication by a soft drink company and father Kant, unable to lie under any circumstances, would nod and say yes, this is categorically true, my son.
It is a white lie nonetheless because it brings more joy. It is transmitting something of a tradition, something often associated with warm feelings of childhood. And hopefully, our children will remember these festive events with glee and warmth. This is what my wife has lacked too in her own childhood; her mother is often referred to as the "Grinch" as she would not only not celebrate this event, but dismiss it as humbug and make believe for the ignorant.
The other criticism is that the whole festivities are an expression and extension of materialistic beliefs. We are creating future consumers by falling into the trap of the big companies. That is true but why rob children of their innocence and their thirst for toys at such an early stage; they can always rebel against materialism and embrace Marxist ideals when they are teenagers.
But still there are some creepy details about Santa. The first one is best exemplified in the song 'Zat you Santa Claus. The singer in this one strikes me as paranoid. Who is that at the door or on the top of the chimney? Is it Santa? Or is it a burglar? Or perhaps it is a burglar dressed up as Santa?
Is it not a creepy idea to have a stranger walk around in your house at night eating your cookie and drinking your milk? This unseen presence that does not steal but leaves behind wrapped gifts instead? Since we do not have a chimney I had to modernize this part of the story and have him enter through the balcony. But the matter is, at least in my son's fertile imagination, if Santa can creep in this way, what about other threats like monsters and dangerous individuals?
Speaking of which, I do find it disconcerting that during this post I have mistyped Santa's name on various occasions by misplacing the letter "n" at the end, and suddenly we are left with somebody completely different altogether, somebody you definitely do not want to enter your premises under any conditions. Is that simply an unfortunate coincidence or a conspiracy? Who knows. In the meantime, merry Christmas everybody!