Why Santa doesn't come to our place (and it's not because I'm 'anti-Santy')
There's a part of me that still gets excited when I see a red suit and a beard in a shopping centre. "Eeek, Santa!" says my five year old self. "Where are the reindeer?"
Most of me, however, is just bemused.
You see, Christmas in Australia is all about Santa. He hangs around at the shops for weeks beforehand, taking pictures with children (obviously, his middle management is pretty efficient if he can leave the elves in the workshop for so long), he visits parties, has his portrait everywhere, and then does the whole delivery-run thing on Christmas Eve in thongs and shorts instead of fur-lined boots. 'Cos it's hot here, okay?
Not really having grown up with him, the Santa saturation is still a bit of a culture shock.
My friends go to incredible lengths to first create, and then maintain the myth for their children that Santa brings the presents. In our tiny town, the local bus driver even dresses up in red and white and drives around on his motorcycle on the night of the 24th, Parents can ask him to come by their place at a specific time and wake up their children so they can see him out the window.
When my oldest daughter was two I took her shopping a few weeks before Christmas. The shopkeeper, decked out in an elves outfit complete with flashing light earrings and reindeer ears, said to her, "Is Santy (sic - that is not a typo) comin' to your place, darlin'? Have you been a good girl? Is he going to bring you presents? Is Santy comin'? Is Santy comin'?"
My daughter looked at her and then back at me, and nodded because she had no idea what the heck was going on!
You see, and here's where I might get the hate mail, my kids *know* that Santa's not real.
It's not that I'm against Santa. I know some people are. Heck, some people are even against Christmas trees and presents, 'cos that's NOT what Christmas is about' but really, that's too much like hard work for me as well.
No, I think Santa's fun. It's a cute story, I'm a beard fan, and the photographic booths always look gorgeous. But we've never encouraged him here, and there are a few reasons why not.
First, it's a bit generational. My nanna was the youngest of 9 children and grew up in the depression. As a child she never had one doll to play with. But her richer cousin on the Northern Beaches had a houseful of toys that Father Christmas had brought her. My nanna felt left out. Was Santa only for the rich kids?
Second, I like getting the kudos for the presents. When my mum was little she couldn't understand how come her mum and dad never gave her anything at Christmas. It didn't seem very nice of them! Me? Call me selfish but I want the kids to know the trouble I've gone to!
Third, it's a hassle maintaining a myth and fobbing off tricky questions from thinking children. Plus, with my husband having to organise Christmas morning services, opening presents on the morning of the 25th has never been something we've done as a family. It's always too rushed. If Santa existed in our house, I'd have to create a whole other fiction as to how come he did early delivery to us.
Fourth, and here, please don't hate me. I've always said that I would never lie to my children. Santa may be a fun lie, but it's a lie all the same. I want my kids to be able to believe everything I say, so I don't tell them things that I don't believe are true. I'm not judging you. I'm just saying the conclusion I've come to.
Fifth, for us, Christmas is about Jesus. We do trees, presents and family and parties, but we make sure we think about why *we're* celebrating gifts and people.
Sixth, the logic doesn't hold up. At what point does naughty outweigh nice? My eight year old today said, "Well, it's not fair. The naughty ones get presents anyway."
Seventh, and this is not the main reason, but I once went to have my photo taken with Santa. I was 18 and my friend and I had finished our exams and wanted some fun. Unfortunately, Santa was kinda creepy. I think he also may have had a go at groping my bottom. The photo was pretty quick.
So that's why Santa doesn't come here at Christmas. We wave to him in the shops, and the kids all know the stories but we don't leave food out for him in our shoes or stay up waiting for the bells of the reindeer.
If you're a Santa-lover, or not, happy Christmas to you. May you get wonderful gifts from someone, whether or not he or she wears a red and white outfit, and may you truly know peace and goodwill in the new year.
[Unfortunately, there have been a few instances where my children have decided to enlighten their friends, despite me explaining very carefully to them that 'when people believe in Santa, we don't spoil it for them, because it's still a nice story and it's up to their mum and dad to tell them one day.' So... oops. Sorry if that was you...]