Have you ever wondered why we keep on introducing generation after generation to the Santa Claus lie?
Every year there are more children introduced to this ideology, and every year there are heartbroken kids who find out the truth.
I was asked this question long ago and over the past few years I believe I’ve finally came up with an answer.
Traditionally Santa Claus is the jolly old bearded guy, who flies in his sleigh driven by magic reindeer; A man who consumes cookies and milk after climbing to your house through a chimney. A guy who in his spare time hangs out at the malls across the country, has you sit on his lap and take pictures, while he’s taking in requests of what children want for Christmas. In recent decades we also found out that Santa’s sweet tooth extends to Coca Cola as well as to other brand name cookies and crescent rolls etc. Santa is a whore to appease and your mom’s cookies from scratch are no longer enough. Cheers!
I grew up in Russia during my tender years, where traditions are much different. We do not celebrate Christmas – we celebrate New Year’s. We have Grandpa Frost and his Granddaughter visiting children on New Year’s Eve and leaving them presents under the tree when they are not watching. We call him Grandpa Frost with red nose [probably from an underlying alcoholism]. His granddaughter is called Snegourochka [sneg means snow in Russia]. We host many gatherings for children which are called “Morning Gathering” or “New Year Tree”. Short and sweet. During those gatherings children dance, compete in mini-competitions, and at the end we call in Grandpa Frost and he grants every kid a present. It usually includes numerous sweets and sometimes toys.
Imagine the surprise of numerous Russian kids when they immigrate and find out that Grandpa Frost is Santa Claus and that it takes him a whole week to get to Russia after he visits USA. WTF? Do elves need extra time to assemble presents for Russian children? No wait? Where did elves come from? We never had elves! Oh, this is BS 😊 Best [case] Scenario!
To the point:
The Santa Claus illusion is the most widespread and the most media-supported illusion there is. It is a live ongoing fairy tale. There are movies pertaining to Santa affecting children and adults [mostly through the wishes of children]. It is the most supported, yet it's not the most protected. It only takes one kid to go: there is no Santa! And you get a pissed off menace for a few days. Or a tearful menace. Or a very vividly broken-down kid with a scar for life [yeah, yeah. That one may be a bit far-fetched]
There are many efforts forever deployed to make us feel that idea of that holiday season is the time of the year when miracles happen. I was raised to believe that New Year’s Eve is that time of the year when miracles happen, and yes – this one is stuck around. If it is not such miraculous time it is most likely at least one of the most entertaining times of the year. It's the time for people to come together to share a sense of belonging with each other if not with family. Let’s be honest most family gatherings for average Americans are not among the most pleasant events – they are usually the more memorable ones 😊
Getting to the point – WHY?
When I look back to my childhood, NYE was that magic time. We had our New Year’s Tree set up; in Russia we had -30F° to -50F° winters thus our double-pane windows were always painted with frost, most beautiful geometric shapes!
While the lights were shining from the tree, room was always filled with warmth of lights and holiday spirit. I never caught my parents put presents under the tree, and I was always hopeful and grateful.
In US there is another layer to Santa Claus – there is a naughty or nice list and if you’ve been bad you get coal. I personally think that it is rather brutal. However, that doesn’t stop me from gifting fake coal and snowman poop to my friends as a gag gift.
The Santa Claus was our first ever introduction to higher power! It was our first encounter with ever watching being who knows if we are naughty or nice. It is our first system of morality control that has us evaluate our behavior and this system has a very specific deadline to validate our initial concept of whether we are naughty or nice. It is our first reference to how naughty is naughty, and to how nice is nice. It provides insight to young and fragile minds and helps them develop leniency up until Santa illusion is dispelled.
Regardless of what tradition you’ve been brought up in, the underlying morality radar still stays within you, unless you try hard to abolish it. The anticipation of miracles in the holiday seasons stays with most as well.
If the holiday season time has been a hallmark of your childhood – you are more likely to associate that time to much love – pure vulnerable unconditional love. If your holiday season was less than perfect, you may want to give your children a season that is filled with love you’ve craved and never got during your time as a child.
I know for sure that once my children will arrive I will host a myriad of Christmas traditions in our household from stockings to cookies, hot chocolate to Santa pictures. My holiday season in my childhood was amazing, and I know that my family will have amazing holiday seasons with me as well. We are a family that gives. We fill ourselves with love and we fill each other’s lives though giving as well.
Whatever your holiday memories are – I am sure that you can trace how much they have affected you through time. I can take that thread and trace it all the way back to my new year’s when I was 6 years old. I remember falling asleep looking at our lit-up garland with water filled colored ampules that bubbled up after they got warm. I remember gratitude and love. I remember my parent’s efforts... All those wonderous efforts through all our challenging times in USSR.
What do you remember?