Friday, December 11, 2009
Mommy, "Why does santa bring toys?"
Okay, so as I was attempting to collect my thoughts about my role in accommodating my children's belief in santa ,and the effects of totally over indulging our kids with perfectly wrapped boxes filled with failed attempts at material versions of intrinsic pleasures, my preschooler asks, "Mommy, why does santa bring toys?"
I am struggling with how far I want to take my kids on the gift filled, red-nosed reindeer driving, elf toy making Santa train. There are two issues I have with the idea of santa, one is how much do I want to incorporate dishonesty into the whole concept of holidays, santa in particular? How elaborate do I get on the details of "the jolly old fellow who comes down our chimney with a bag full of toys for all the good girls and boys?" Not to mention, Mrs. Clause who is traditionally not even on the train. She doesn't make the toys, drive the sleigh, check the list. (We all no I have a problem with that). Now that I think about it, I probably have more than just two issues with santa; but, for the sake of time, (Dora is only 20 minutes long)I will only write about the dishonesty issue and the problem I have with how many toys kids receive during Christmas.
I love the idea of believing in the magical, whimsical concept of santa. This innocent ability to believe disappears with age. I don't want to rob my kids of this short lived joy. In fact, I thoroughly enjoy the whole concept of believing in fantasy, pretending, stepping out of the constraints of reality. I still remember the unmatched delight I felt as a child when I woke up Christmas morning and believed santa ate the cookies and Rudolph the carrot, I left the night before. The enjoyment received from the fantasy may have surpassed the pleasure received from the gazillion presents under the tree. But how far do you take the illusion, and are there negative effects to untruthfulness even in the light of innocent "make-belief?"
The bigger issue for me is the materialization the santa story can bring to Christmas. My husband is out in the freezing cold right now earning our families finances, do I want to take that hard earned money down to Walmart to buy my daughter the lame ass cupcake maker she sees on TV? I know she wants the toy, the TV tells her how great it is. I also know, however, that when we make cupcakes together, it is way cooler than that lame ass cupcake maker.
Don't even get me started on commercials.
Commercials-- legal kidnapping of your kids brain. Not only do commercials steal your child's completely open, unencumbered, persuadable brain space; but, advertisements fill their brains with lame ass ideas about lame ass toys.
Just shut off the TV, simple as that. Sorry, Dora, or actually the uninterrupted enjoyment Dora brings my kids, is way too tempting. Limit yes, complete elimination; not in my house. Also, I will never be able to completely limit their exposure to all things commercial. Advertisements are everywhere.
Okay, I guess I got started on commercials.
Back to santa, and why he brings us toys (with the help of Mrs. Clause of course). I loved opening my gazillion toys as a kid. Waking up to all the Christmas presents, under the tree, supposedly brought by this great dude and his flying reindeer, brings back fantastically fond memories of childhood. However, I do not want to fall victim to unintentionally destroying my kids inherent elation in basic objects. In our desire to bring enjoyment to our kids through gift giving, we rob them of what they all ready possess, which is pure, true, joy in simple gifts or simple things for that matter. Most kids start out, not just playing, but being completely happy with the box that the toy came in. Until, we bombard with a gazillion toys, then we have to keep topping each present with something bigger, louder, LAMER. Inadvertently, the idea of santa becomes an oxymoron. Instead of the intended pleasure he set out to bring; he brings disappointment. After a few years of absurd amounts of cupcake makers, toy cars, toys that do this, and toys that do that, our kids become overindulged to the point of material congestion. The innocent delight in the simple is replaced with the desire for more, more, more which inevitably leads to discontentment.
I do not have the Chapman family version of santa written completely in my head, yet. I do know I will be cautious of the story I tell, and thoughtful of how our version is played out every December, without sacrificing the innocent magic and pure joy in the concept of a "jolly old fellow (and his wife) bringing toys to all the good girls and boys."
(Because, a preschooler does not wait for you to gather your thoughts or write a blog about your answer to their questions....I did reply "Santa brings toys because he likes to bring joy to kids, and teach kids the joy of giving")