A Candid Discussionon January 13, 2014 at 11:09 pm
For the record, I can be a bit of a grump around the Christmas times. I am a creature who flourishes on a steady diet of quiet contemplation, so I get a little starved out over the holidays. But we’re back, and hopefully by now we’ve all had a week or two to get back into a routine that isn’t wall to wall panic shopping and turkey stuffing. So now that the holiday imperative buzz has worn off, maybe we can have a bit of rational discussion about the whole Kris Kringle thing.
The Santa Claus paradigm makes me deeply uncomfortable; it’s basically a combination consumer engine and paediatric panopticon, neither of which are grounded in principals I value and one of which requires me to lie to my child’s face. Though I have managed to avoid direct perjury in the case of Saint Nick, I do little to educate my son on the topic.
Gifts are best spontaneous and unexpected, as the real value in the gift is in knowing that the person who gave it to you was thinking of you unbidden. Adding everyone to a list once a year and checking them off smacks of cold obligation and the predetermined timing ruins any chance of spontaneity. Worse yet, it discourages people to partake in gift-giving until this arbitrary time of year, for fear of running low on ammo for the Christmas season. The advantage is held entirely by retailers, who can prophesy buying habits en masse and mobilize accordingly when everyone sticks to the same schedule.
Managing child behavior through threat of supernatural judgement is just plain dishonest and more than a little dogmatic. Instead of teaching a kid to be respectful of his fellow human beings because the greatest achievements are made by teams, we teach them just to not be dicks so long as they’re being watched. And when they get into their third or fourth year of never hearing of anyone who got coal in their stocking, they know they can feasibly hide their misdeeds from mere mortals. Movies like The Guardians and Arthur Christmas demonstrate that there’s some rich mythology here waiting to be explored through literature, but passing fiction off as fact is lying and that can only take you so far as a parent.
All that said, dude’s got style, yo. I have a red and white Santa-hat I wear from the first to the twenty-sixth of December that is equal parts silly, ironic, and functional. That’s hard to find in a piece of clothing.