Another post inspired by Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop. Other people’s similarly wintry posts here.
Dear Santa Claus,
I was so relieved when I found out that you didn’t exist.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a bit of Christmas spirit as much as the next person. Decorating the tree, making paper chains, putting out socks (upstairs) and pillowcases (downstairs) were, and still are, a load of fun. For several years, it was somehow important to make a nativity scene using toilet roll middles, cotton wool and felt-tip-pens. After that we had a spate of making those Christmas decorations (Santa, angels, little drummer boy) made out of a clothes peg. I think that’s just a more advanced version of toilet roll middles.
We would save up chocolate from my birthday (October) onwards so that we could have a ‘feast’ early on Christmas morning. Every year we seemed to forget that chocolate tastes completely disgusting when you’ve just woken up.
Then we would excitedly open the Christmas sock upstairs (apple, satsuma, Chocolate money, shiny pennies, pencil sharpener) and wait till we were allowed to go downstairs to see what wonderful things were in our pillowcases. The excitement!
But the actual Santa business, I found pretty confusing. From a very early age, I could see that it didn’t make sense, for you to get all the way round the world in one night. I think the pseudo-scientific explanations were even worse than ‘it’s just magic’. It bugged me. Everyone said Santa was true, but the story just didn’t fit in with the way that things work in the rest of the world. It sat uncomfortably with all the other things I knew about the world, even the scary ones, like death and infinity (yes, I was an obnoxious 6-year-old).
Then at school, I found out that not only did people get presents from Santa, they got presents from their parents as well! My parents didn’t give me anything for Christmas. Just Santa and the other relatives. Why was that? I gave them presents.
To be fair to my (rather rational) parents, they probably thought they were taking the best route to making it clear to us that it was all a story without actually saying so explicitly. We didn’t have carrots with teethmarks, or footprints outside or anything.
There’s another thing: we had no open chimneys. I had to wonder, could you just pick locks? Or did my parents let you in?
I continued for a while to try to make the fantasy fit the facts. But when I figured out (or was told) that you didn’t exist, it was like letting out a big breath. Christmas didn’t get any less fun. It just hurt my brain a bit less.
A few years ago, I had an argument with Mr Woodsmoke about whether kids should be told that you’re real (the argument was all the more ridiculous given that we’re not having kids). He believes that kids should get the standard ‘magic of Santa’ thing. I, of course, take the opposite view. I think Santa is still magical even if you know he’s a story. I don’t remember playing kings and queens to be no fun because it wasn’t real. I didn’t complain every time I read an Enid Blyton book that it hadn’t happened in real life.
So Santa, I really appreciate the presents and all that, but how about we get over this “Santa is real” nonsense and enjoy you for the fun traditional story that you are? I don’t think I’m the only scientifically-minded little kid who’d enjoy that approach even better.