Christmas Came and Went... Same as Always.

Christmas came and went. The holidays are gone. Back to reality, and here’s my annual thoughts on all that...

On Christmas eve, while every other adult had sensibly gone off to sleep, my brother-in-law Nick and I toughed out the night performing some of our usual celebratory rituals, i.e. drinking too much, smoking too many...err...cigarettes, resolving some of the world’s serious ills and satisfying those munchies.

At one late point, as we debated Quebec labour unions between gulps, puffs, and mouthfuls of words mixed with left-over meatballs and handfuls of cashews, Nick suddenly exclaimed, “Oh no! I forgot to leave cookies and milk by the fireplace.”

It did take far longer than it should have for us to convert glowing blue numbers on an oven to time, and longer still to deduce that we’d best hurry since my two nephews, ages 6 and 2, could be up at any moment.

Nick hesitated, tired and hazy, his face contorted in an expression of defeat and abandon. So, rising to my role of loveable uncle, I clapped my hands and jumped to the task. Nick leaned against the kitchen counter and watched as I side-stepped by him, broke a piece of crust off of a pie and proceeded to crumble flaky bits in a small plate.
“You think that’s gonna fool them?” he asked.
“Looks like crumbs to me,” I replied.
“Hmmmmm. They’ll know it’s not cookies.”
Nick rummaged through our parents' pantry for cookies while I got a glass which I then filled with a spurt of milk.
Again Nick watched and asked,” You think that’s gonna fool them?”
“Well, I’m not gonna fill it. Santa drank it, right? It’s just for show.”
“No,” Nick wagged a finger in the air, “Kids, man... I tell you. Fill it up and I’ll drink it. Otherwise they won’t see that milky line and they’ll know the glass wasn’t filled.”
“Oh... right,” I said, “Not a very good liar, am I?”

That’s when it hit me, the type of paralysing doubt I’m often ridiculed for being plagued with at such moments... Was I actually doing a good thing by partaking in and encouraging a scheme to dupe my nephews into believing the existence of some jolly ol’ mythical figure fashioned and exploited to promote a kind of empty consumerism that goes against my every moral fibre and annually places such a devastatingly big financial burden on parents?

Jolly Old Saint Nick + slaving elves = peace and love = the birth of Christ = a mega f*cken stretch any way you look at it today! Screams of capital C Capitalism.

Schools wouldn’t dare teach crap about aliens and Martians; we convince our kids that ghosts and goblins don’t exist; the grimly realistic cautionary tales of yesteryear have all been Walt Disney-ized, and every single parent I know is quick to point out that unicorns, mermaids, dragons and vampires are all straight out of fiction, and that Barney is some guy in a suit and not a real dinosaur. Yet everyone, educators to the educated et al., are all willing to play along when it comes to Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny (and yes, the whole “Easter Bunny = Christ’s resurrection” equation is one that completely numbs my brain...). Why is that? Equally disturbing is the fact that even atheists are willing to sell the existence of a never-seen, all-knowing and judgemental Santa Claus and Easter Bunny to kids. How Judeo-Christian is that?!? It's no wonder people have a hard time with the concept of the Holy Trinity, in their early years we’re teaching them that it’s actually a Holy Quintet!
I in turn leaned against the counter and let Nick take over operations as I reflected on the matter... which inevitably became our topic of debate once Nick returned to the kitchen, the plate and glass carefully staged by the modern, ultra-efficient fireplace. That the belief in the myth requires authentic cookie crumbs and meticulous planning to ensure that kids buy into the loony idea that some obese box-carrying man came down and out and back up of what even the blindest of bats could see was an impossibility from three properties away is destabilising.

“Are parents really doing a good thing by selling their kids the preposterous Santa clause?” I asked, offering a sly grin, proud that I could still muster some wit in my state. “Or are they just playing into the hands of big-money by perpetuating the cycle which seeks to indoctrinate consumer habits at the youngest age possible?” I hiccupped.
Nick stared back, mouth agape, “Uh?”
“And what if the belief in Santa Claus and the magic of Christmas is a required part of a normal, healty occidental childhood?” I continued. “What if having a Santa-filled childhood is necessary to create the proper memories and nostalgia needed to become a well-balanced individual in our society?”
After all, nearly all adults—even the childless—agree; Christmas is for children.

We drank and ate and talked some more.

Nick, father of two, was happy with leaving things at, “I do it for my kids; it makes them happy.” He bid me goodnight and crawled off to bed, grumbling that he’d have to be up in 45 minutes to an hour.

Me, still childless and wildly idealistic, I couldn’t be satisfied with that. Left with my thoughts and two-thirds of a beer, I pondered a world without Santa Claus; not a world without Christmas mind you, but a world where parents weren’t coerced en masse into lying to their kids about a pseudo god of consumerism. A world where our economy didn’t entirely depend on 4th quarter sales and a mascot for peace and love that had very little to do with actual peace and love.
I headed to bed profoundly disappointed by the thought that such a world would never be allowed. Santa Claus is now a firm part of the world we all played a part in creating, like death and taxes and disposable whatsits.

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© 2010, Pascal-Denis Lussier

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