Thursday, August 09, 2007

Avoiding the hard questions

Breed ‘Em and Weep wrote about the whole Santa-thing on her blog today. “And in August, Santa Claus disintegrates into a pile of ashes and everyone’s heart hurts.”

It was That Question. The ‘is this guy real, or have you been LYING TO ME all this time?!’

Ouch.

Ouch, ouch, OUCH.

I am such a terrible, terrible coward that I have headed this particular question off at the pass. I dreaded it horribly since before Eldest was even a twinkle in our eyes, all the more so because I never really lost my belief in the jolly old elf.

Santa Claus, St. Nick, the spirit of Christmas, is real in this house. Very, very real. After all, how else do you explain the fact that every single year, SO MANY OTHERWISE RATIONAL PEOPLE are suddenly seized with an inexplicable urge to celebrate the joy, to be a part of the miracle? To give of their time and talents as if they were limitless?

It’s called deputizing. That’s right. The Big Guy reaches out, every single year, to those of us who have the happy combination of ‘means’ and ‘paying attention’, taps us on the shoulder and says, “Hey. Little help here?”

This is what I have told my children since they were old enough to notice this whole Christmas thing. The spirit that is Santa is real. You can’t see it. You aren’t going to hear him on the rooftops or stay up late and catch him at his work. It’s all part of $DEITY’s work, a specific department if you will that largely, but not solely, operates around the holy days of Winter – whether you call it Hanukkah, Christmas, Yule, or Kwanzaa. (Welcome to the house of a Universalist, y’all.)

The guy in the mall? A deputy. The presents that appear under the tree? A little bird (cough-SANTA-cough) told me they’d like them. The presents we buy for other children, whose parents are currently lacking either the means or the ability to hear Santa’s voice? Part of the deputy-Santa gig.

If we’re very, very lucky indeed, the deputizing goes on. We’re allowed to help others all year, not just at Christmas. If we are extremely very much so blessed, we can hear that voice all year long.

It saved me that particular heart-wrenching ouch. And I love how, every year, my girls notice the ‘gift tree’ in our mall, hung all over with requests from children who aren’t looking forward to a particularly merry Christmas and start asking me: Are we deputies this year? Is Santa talking to you, mommy? Is Santa asking you to help again?

Of course he is, my darlings! Let’s do old Saint Nick proud!!

15 comments:

Amy Lane said...

A deputy of good will--what could be better? I managed to skirt it because my kids are smarter than I am...they figured it out, and then figured that it would break my heart to tell me that they knew, and eventually, me and the older kids were in on the conspiracy...

PipneyJane said...

Yes!!! You have cracked the $64 million question. One day, I hope, there will be millions of parents the world over who use your answer to the Santa question. If I'm every lucky enough to have children, then I certainly will.

Bless you, Tama. It's the perfect response.

- Pam

Kristin said...

My husband grew up without Santa and I think that is a real bummer. I have always worried about what to say about it when my kids are old enough to ask.
Good ideas! Thanks for sharing.

Kris said...

I have thought long and hard about this as well because my BIL is raising his kids w/o Santa. We invoke Santa's name fairly regularly after Thanksgiving.

My solution to the big question when it arises is to answer it in the same spirit as you are.

Kris said...

That is very sweet.

We do the Santa thing and when my son would ask the big question I would always work my way around it by asking...Well, what do you think?

I would never lie, just be tricky. It did come down to one year when my son was 8 that I had to break the news to him.

Siercia said...

Wow, that is a great answer.

I'll have to remember it when Widget brings up that particular dreaded question.

Tola said...

my mom always told me "anybody can be a Santa." i love your post, please reiterate it Thanksgiving weekend so that we can remember.

Yarnhog said...

Tears in my eyes. An even better answer than the classic, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" from the Chicago Sun Times editor a hundred years ago.

terena said...

This is great. Thanks for posting this. My girl is 12 and holding on to Santa for dear life. I decided I'd tell her the truth when she asked, and so far she hasn't. When she asks, I can tell her about the deputies and the spirit of christmas. She'll still accuse me of lying, but maybe it won't be such a shock now.

MadMad said...

Awwww..... Awesome!

Steph Bolinger said...

Absolutely beautiful. Santa is very much alive at our house too, and always will be. You have some pretty lucky kids, I think.

RM Kahn said...

I had to give over on the whole tooth fairy thing, but I will go down fighting to hold onto the legend of Santa. But as Peanut nears age 11, I know that time is growing closer and I will do my best to pass on the spirit of giving.

Brett said...

Sorry to threadjack here, but I thought you might be interested in this....knitting sweaters for penguins! Apparently they put sweaters on penguins when there's an oil spill to prevent them from eating the oil when they groom themselves. Its pretty cute:

http://www.myconfinedspace.com/2007/08/13/penguins-in-sweaters/penguins-in-sweaters/

I've googled a bit and it doesn't seem like anyone is actually requesting these at the moment. They had a sweater drive in Australia some time ago but got way more than they really needed for that. But here's the pattern if you're interested:

http://www.tct.org.au/jumper.htm

Science PhD Mom said...

We are telling DD that Santa was a real person and that's about as far as we take it now. She's 2, she LOVES the idea of Santa, so eventually we will work in the idea that we are "helping him out". I love your "Deputies" phrase, I've got to remember that one!

suburbancorrespondent said...

Love the Santa deputies idea. Although my kids are so simple, they totally believe until they are old enough not to be upset by the truth. I guess I've been lucky, so far.