One day in the future, when people (Ok, maybe just my own kids…) look back on things I have written, they will see that I somehow – and unintentionally – ended up with an annual Christmas rant. It’s not like I plan these things; it’s really just too easy with the material I’m given to work with.
This morning I stumbled upon a post on social media that involved a parent seeking a professional gift wrapper she could pay to wrap the Santa gifts and write out the tags for her kids because they knew what her own wrapping style looked like. Yes, I read it twice.
Pause… Breathe … Regroup.
(If you really suck at gift wrapping, go ahead and pay others to do it if you must. Or if you have a need for all your gifts to look like Martha Stewart wrapped them, you are entitled to that. I’m addressing the idea of having to go this route because of a situation created that could have been avoided altogether.)
Now I’m not going to tell anyone how to do their Santa thing in their own family because that’s everyone’s own business. (I do have some opinions about how some of what you might choose to do affects other children, but that’s in another post already…)
If you enjoy running around like a headless chicken for the month of December embellishing with ever increasing fervor the commercialized and over active Santa Claus of 2016 – in between trying to find new and exciting ways for your shelf elf to appear on each of twenty-four busy mornings and hoping the comparisons done by children will rate your efforts worthy – then you just go for it and have fun!
However, when people share their complaints about stress during the holiday season, and then talk about things like having to buy special paper just for Santa gifts – or in the above case, actually paying someone else to wrap and write on tags – I have to ask what the heck you are thinking getting yourselves into this mess.
I think that once you have to start farming out your Santa duties because you can’t fake out your own kids anymore, you’ve dug your hole too deep and maybe it’s just time to fess up already. Why didn’t you just start with unwrapped Santa gifts the first year?
But now you’re paper committed; it starts with having to buy special paper every year and hiding it strategically, hoping the kids don’t see it, because if they do, you’ll have to take it back to the store and exchange it for new stuff (true story from a retail clerk). Then they start to recognize your wrapping style. What a bummer! No chance at all that these uber observant probably borderline genius kids you’re trying to fool just might have heard something in the air about Santa not being real?
(I don’t believe my adult children – after 28 and 30 years – would be able to pick my own wrapping out of a pile unless they knew which paper I used, but perhaps they missed out on that gene.)
It’s too late for many. But for what it’s worth – from my life experience and subsequent observations – here’s my unsolicited advice for new parents contemplating the variety of options:
KEEP IT SIMPLE FROM THE START. Seriously. Your kids will still have lots of fun and you won’t get migraines. They don’t need a lot of extra balderdash to make Christmas special. They will come to appreciate what YOU make it, and what society says won’t matter if YOU don’t care.
Tell your kids about the REAL SANTA, not the fake one. It’s so much easier to deal with over time and it teaches your kids to share and to give. The real Santa lived hundreds of years ago – St. Nicholas – and he did deliver presents to kids, and everything we do now under the name of fake Santa actually started with him, but it’s gone far beyond a kind and loving gesture. It’s turned into a commercial cash grab and parents are jumping down the rabbit hole every time something new comes along. Why embellish? Why build on lie after lie until you can no longer find enough ways to keep it going any longer? Why not just tell the truth up front and have fun with it and let everyone enjoy sharing in the spirit of Santa?
Kids like suspense and anticipation. You decide what they’ll be waiting for at Christmas.
Will it be some guy in a red suit who delivers big expensive gifts to some kids and no gifts at all to others? The guy who actually visits some homes in person but never visits others, or who phones certain children to chat while others never hear from him? The guy who after many decades now needs to depend on stuffed elves to keep track of kids and entertain them for a month before he comes himself? The guy who painstakingly wraps gifts for certain kids in special paper they’ve apparently never seen anywhere else while simply tossing the gifts of other kids under the tree as if he had no time left to decorate those? This 21st century Santa is no longer the wonderful character of old fashioned movies. He’s probably in therapy trying to keep up with the parents of today.
Will it be the guy you have to explain about every year because the rules keep changing, society is constantly upping the ante, and nobody wants to feel left out of the excitement that is supposed to be about making kids happy rather than competitive and greedy?
Or will you have your kids wait for the special surprises that will be left for them by loving family members who are carrying on the tradition started by a real person of playing Santa to make others feel happy and loved? No lies to cover up, no extravagant commercial trends to keep up with, just the spirit of Santa Clause that lives on in truth.