Janell and Peacebang both are writing good stuff about Santa.
Which reminds me that I accidentally fired a shot in the so-called War On Christmas when I picked up my copy of Run Shepherds Run and the clerk said "Happy Holidays," and I joked "Oh, hey, it's a Christmas book, you can just say Merry Christmas." I thought I was being so funny, until I remembered that this is actually an Extremely Serious Situation (ESS) for some of my brethren and sistern (or is it cistern?). Anyway, I was reminded that Santa used to be an ESS for me, too.
Like Janell, I've been pretty anti-Santa, for all the reasons that she puts so much better than I can. Go on, click over there. And make sure to read the comments, too. Mostly, I simply cannot understand how it could be fun and magical to try to make my kids believe in something I know is fake, when there is so much fun and magic to be had from the things I DO believe in.
But, lately, I kind of get the Santa thing just a little more. Or at least, there's been an easing up on the no-Santa doctrine at Casa Juniper. We tell our six year old that Santa is just for fun, by which we mean not real. But my kid doesnt really understand not-real.
If he can imagine it, it's real to him, whether he's seen it or not. Are all kids this way? Maybe yours is different, but mine believes in fairies, Jesus, Wall-E, evaporation, the rings of Saturn and Santa with equal fervor.
Once, in the middle of summer when Christmas was the furthest thing from my mind he came to me with those worried little wrinkles on his forehead like the weight of the world has just landed on him. "Do you think Santa can even get in here?" he asked all trembly voiced, "That chimley is so skinny!"
I guess I believe less than I used to that I can MAKE him believe (or not believe) anything. Eventually, some of his beliefs will fall away and some will get stronger, and I'm pretty sure that all I can do about that is keep modeling my own beliefs, keep talking to him about why we do the things we do, keep teaching him the old songs. So, this week we light 3 advent candles at the dinner table, put together a creche, watch my favorite Christmas movie, hang my childhood angel ornaments on that ancient pagan symbol, tack up a stocking or two and have this conversation:
"Santa's not really real. But it's fun to play Santa."
"Well, _I_ believe in Santa."
Who knows what he makes of it all? His beliefs and practices will most certainly be just such a mishmash as mine, maybe more. Maybe I'm just getting lazy. Or maybe the older I get, the more I think that mishmash might not be such a bad thing.