Advent Day Three: Write a Fourteen Point Treatise On I Mean Letter to Santa

1. So we wrote a letter to Santa. I wanted Eli to write it but after spending 45 minutes fighting with him over Kindergarten homework, neither one of us had it in us, so he dictated and I wrote. .

2. You will note that this letter begins with “I want” because even though I have corrected this child to “May I please have” over seventy million times since he first began to speak, it has had no noticeable effect.

3. The Letter:

DSC_0122-001

Yes, he did ask for 6 red bell peppers and some hand sanitizer, because those are his favorite things. I know.

4. Yes, we do Santa. Big liars who love stuff, remember?

5. Although the truth is that although I can certainly ramble on at length about this subject (and I will, lucky you!), for me, Santa is sort of like…let’s say, cloth napkins.  There are lots of good reasons to use cloth napkins, but we pretty much just use cloth napkins because that’s what I did as a kid. In fact I mostly had no idea there were other options until quite recently, in the grand scheme of things.  And cloth napkins do align nicely with my personal and ethical and moral beliefs, but it’s just what I’ve always done. I don’t even really think about it that much. I just do it because it’s what I know.  And while I do find it a little confusing when people use paper napkins because the superiority of cloth napkins seem pretty obvious to me, I’m not, like throwing darts at a picture of your face in my spare time if I you use paper napkins. You do your thing, I’ll do mine.  That’s really how I feel about Santa.

6. Especially because if I had a general philosophy about parenting, besides “I hope desperately that my children are happy”, it would be “Let’s not over think this thing, now.”  Mr. E practically has this tattooed across his (manly) back muscles Sons of Anarchy style, so we’re on the same page there.  Parenting gives you so many opportunities to overdo it. You can take every single decision as far as you possible can. If you really want to you can buy organic milk from french cows left to roam on the hillside next to a meandering stream while someone reads them empowering tracts on cow feelings.  I just never want to be that parent announcing nervously to all the other parents at my kids fifth birthday party: “HE’S NEVER HAD SUGAR BEFORE!”  I mean, YOU go for it, but that’s not my jam, you know? I want to swing towards the “oh, screw it” side of life, not the “MY CHILDREN DON’T EAT THAT!!!!!!” side of life.

7. But really, I just don’t want to make a big deal out of things.

8. Also, I remain totally unconcerned about lying to my kids.  First of all, on the scale of childhood trauma, finding out that Santa wasn’t real barely registers on mine.  My father drank out of open containers while driving us around. In the car.  We had bigger problems than Santa.  Secondly, right after “Be Happy”  my goal for my children is for them to be able to think for themselves.  Sometimes this can be scary, because it means that you are giving your children the freedom to disagree with you someday, but that price is worth it to me.  Do I agree with everything my parents say? God no. Do I believe everything they tell me? God no.  I am intelligent human being and one of the things I value most about my life is that I get to believe what I want.  But Mr. Rogers has since passed on and so I think I can honestly say that there’s pretty much no one alive today who I don’t think is sometimes full of shit.  So yes, sometimes I lie to my kids, and they’re going to be ok.  And I hope they grow up questioning much of what the world tells them and making up their own minds about things just like I did, because believe me, a person who parroted back everything my father believes and told me about life is a very different person than the one I am today. That person is horrible person with screwed up ideas about life, fyi. So no, I don’t expect my children to believe everything I tell them, because I don’t expect them to believe everything that anyone tells them, myself included.  That’s way more important to me than never lying to them. I want to raise questioners, not believers.

(But we aren’t doing Santa so my kids know that sometimes we’re full of shit, it’s not anywhere near that calculated. I just think of this when people say “we don’t do Santa because we never want to lie to our kids” and I can’t help but think that the definition of truth becomes awfully fluid and I want my children to question even the things that other people believe are absolutes.)

9. It doesn’t really matter anyway, because this weekend, at Home Depot, where all the best man talks take place, Eli said, to Erik: “Dad, is Santa real? Because I don’t know, but sometimes this Santa stuff just seems awfully pretend.” !!!!! For the love of Pete, man. Children.

10. Did I say there were 14 points? I may have overestimated my ability to ramble.

11.  Tonight we are leaving our shoes out for St. Nicholas. Eli has also expressed doubt that “someone who has been dead for a really long time is going to come leave us presents and candy”.

So I might not actually be that good at this Santa thing, it turns out.

12. But please.  None of this means that I think you are a bad person for not wanting to lie to your kids, or for not doing Santa or wanting to raise believers. I don’t want that, but I don’t care that you do.  Paper napkins, remember? I am surprised that you use them, but I don’t care. At all.

13. We do not have that horrifying Elf on the Shelf.  None of that business around here, please.

14. What I really want for Christmas is for Katie Dubs to go to bed at 7 PM instead of 10PM so I can go back to watching Homeland obsessively.  Dear god I wish Santa was bringing me that.

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21 Responses

  1. See, we just don’t use napkins. I’m just…not a napkin person. We wipe the kids’ hands with a washcloth when dinner is over and that’s it. If we’re having something incredibly messy, like ribs (which isn’t often), we put some paper towels on the table. I realize it’s odd.

  2. My mom and I were talking recently about how great of a parent I am (OKAY FINE I’LL TAKE IT) because I’m so laid-back. And I was telling her, you know, I could very easily go the direction of being uber-controlling about everything LG eats (okay, that is sort of my one uber-controlling thing, but oh well) or who watches her (I mean, within reason, of course) or what she wears or other crap that really doesn’t matter in the parenting long-run. I am just obsessive enough that I could totally be that person. But I just cannot allow myself to be. I am happier turning a blind eye to certain things if it means it doesn’t make me insane. Because that is a definite possibility. Anyway, so I get you. Happy children are the name of the game. And also: Happy parents too.

  3. Oh, and for the record, *I* do not call myself laid-back. That is what my mom said. I prefer “lazy.”

  4. I don’t have kids, so I won’t weigh in on the Great Santa Debate except to say that we were a Santa household and I turned out okayish. Also, my mom lied about not telling my dad something SUPER PERSONAL and that was way more scarring in the “parents lie sometimes” spectrum.

    But, I can weigh in on the cloth napkins. We own no cloth napkins, no tablecloths, and no napkin rings. Clearly we are heathens. But it works for our little family.

  5. You know why I use cloth napkins? Because I don’t want my kids to feel as teenagers that some random, cheesy restaurant like Olive Garden is the height of sophistication because they have cloth napkins and then, at Olive Garden of all freaking places, to feel out of place and uncomfortable because, OMG cloth napkins — fancy!

    Not that that ever happened to me or anything.

  6. My parenting philosophy is “whatever.” And honestly, a lot of the things I do that seem all crunchy and hippy are because I am lazy. Breastfeeding? Don’t want to buy formula and make bottles. Cloth diapering? Don’t want to remember to buy diapers. Baby led weaning? Don’t want to make and feed baby food, so have some of my green beans.

    Also, we do Santa. For several reasons. I want my kids to believe in magic. Also, as an adult, I don’t NOT believe in Santa myself. (Also, fairies, dragons, magic, etc.) And I lie to kids ALL THE TIME. For their own good.

  7. We do Santa because it’s easy. I spent a couple years at the beginning of childrearing not really sure. It was confirmed last week when Spencer told me he had a dream that Santa was a vampire and I said “but vampires aren’t real, right?” so that ‘s happening. Finding out there was no Santa was traumatic for me, but it was the way and when I found out. My parents divorced when I was five, and my mom told me that there was no Santa so I wouldn’t think that Santa thought I was bad because Christmas wouldn’t be as plentiful that year.

    Honestly, I don’t even remember that Christmas, just the conversation with my mother.

  8. Great post! And, our #2 is yelling at our kid to chew with his mouth closed – how freaking hard is it?!?!!! I’m pretty laid back about anything else but when I can see your food in your mouth while you chew like a cow and try to talk and sing to me at the same time? No. No, I don’t think so.

  9. My stock answer to the “Is Santa real?” question was always, “Do you believe he’s real?” “Yes.” “Then he’s real.” And as long as someone believed, we did Santa.

    I always chuckle at those of you who breastfeed because you are “lazy,” when most of your blog posts/tweets sound like it’s anything BUT laziness. I mean, I just made up a bunch of bottles every night before bed and heated ’em up when they were hungry! Y’all feed all night long and pump and eat fenugreek. That is NOT lazy. 🙂

  10. I love this, and I’m so glad you put these thoughts into words. We do Santa because we both grew up with him and have fond memories that we’d like to share with our kids. It’s not about lying or not lying – it’s about fun, for all of us.

    Also, “empowering tracts on cow feelings” is my favorite phrase ever.

  11. I’m feeling pretty smug right now because I use paper napkins that look EXACTLY like cloth napkins.

  12. You know, I am generally very honest with my kids….we have talked about sex, the election, why we don’t eat at chicfila…but I am all for Santa, fairies, and magic. I think imagination and creativity build intelligence. That being said, despite my best efforts, Violet decided this year at age six, she has decided she doesn’t believe. She pretends for her little sisters and at school. Her nine year old neighbor friend called her a wierdo, though, because she didn’t believe, which shocked me. And broke my mama bear heart.

  13. We didn’t do Santa when I was little- my parents were a little heavy handed with The True Meaning of Christmas and there was none of that Santa business to muddy up the picture, thank you very much. Therefore, I do Santa. NOT heavy handedly, but we do him, and we do the story of the first Christmas and the nativity scene too, and Rudolph and Frosty and every other bit of Christmas jazz, because my parenting (life) philosophy is, “Everything in moderation.”
    I’m getting a little concerned waiting for my oldest to figure out though- or at least SUSPECT- that he isn’t real. She still believes quite firmly, at seven, that the jolly old elf is real, as well as the tooth fairy. This has me a little concerned. It seems so patently, obviously a myth that I’m concerned none of my little ones have caught on at all, especially when I’ve hardly made a huge effort to keep them believing. I’ll make the random comments here and there about Santa watching, and they write him a letter and we leave out cookies. No leaving out reindeer food or climbing up on the GD ROOF to leave reindeer hoof prints like one of my friend’s parents did. Isn’t seven a little old to not even be wondering about it? I don’t know, since as I’ve said I have no childhood framework for it.

  14. I am with you 100% on that Elf on the Shelf deal. That thing is troubling, and I understand that it may be a tradition from the ancient days of yore, but in my world it first appeared in a Hallmark store, which makes me have the suspicious, Generation X-type feelings.

    Anyway, we did Santa until the kids told us we were full of baloney. It’s such a relief not to have to keep up that charade anymore.

  15. No elf on the shelf for us either. I asked my 3 yr old son what he thought of it when we saw one at Target. His response, “it’s a litle creepy.” YES, child, thank you!

  16. I just really really love all of this. Especially the not overthinking stuff. AMEN.

    We are totally going to do Santa. It made Christmas SO magical. And there is only a short time in our life where we get to believe in such fanciful, fun things. (Even though I did write a paper in a philosophy course in college comparing believing in Santa to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. Haa. What a crazy.)

  17. I am a completely lazy parent. So far the children have made it to the teen years. (One will be 18 this month! How can that be???) Oh, and I totally lie to my kids all the time. Not about important stuff but about stuff like Santa – if you don’t believe he won’t bring you any gifts (to older kids when the littles still believed.), the tooth fairy, MAGICAL things. Also, things like, yes, it is very horrible that you got detention for stupid boy stuff at school. How dare you behave so. And then laugh my ass off in another room.

  18. Love this post. Love the Mister Rogers line. Love love love the cloth napkin anaolgy.

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