Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sex and Santa


Got your attention with that title, eh?

I've been struggling a little bit with Santa this year. Not literally--though that would make for an amazing video--but just with some of the ideas that Sawyer has gotten from various kids and movies. Rob and I always wanted the focus of Christmas to be Jesus. We didn't really care about Santa being a part, but didn't want him to be a BIG part. As in, we didn't want to teach the myth as truth for him to figure out later on, and we didn't want to have a bunch of gifts from Santa. Sometimes when you make a huge deal out of things, it creates an issue where there would be none, so we acknowledged Santa when we saw pictures around out the malls or wherever, but we didn't bring up the man in red otherwise.

I certainly did not want to be the one telling my young kid Santa isn't real so he could go and tell the entire preschool class who would then tell their parents who would then call me or send angry letters to me.

Just like me learning about sex.

You see, when I was little, I was a part of something through the YMCA called Indian Princesses. (Now the more PC Adventure Guides.) Basically it was daughters and dads camping and doing activities. Some of my best memories are on these camping trips, where I was dubbed Princess Dirtball (rather than my choice name, Princess Running Eagle).

Most of the girls in my tribe were older, and on one of the camping trips when I was probably in Kindergarten, one of them told me about sex. Yes--I was five.

When you're five, this information is given as something like this: "A man puts his penis in a woman's vagina and it makes a baby." Completely biological and factual.  When you're five, this information prompts a response like mine: "Why would anyone want to do that??" Then I proceeded to tell every kid I knew.

Somehow, probably because this is awkward, no one told their parents and no one called my house to complain.  My parents maybe thought that they were the first ones to tell me about S-E-X when they sat me down a few years later. (Sorry, Mom and Dad. It was old news by then.)

But this is what I envisioned if we told Sawyer and Lincoln that Santa isn't real: that heard-it-through-the-grapevine, I-know-something-you-don't-know news that spreads like wildfire and results in tears and calls from parents. While we didn't want to celebrate or glorify Santa, I didn't want to ruin it for other kids and families. I remember how special the idea of Santa was--even if I figured out through some serious sleuthing that he wasn't real, probably about the same time I realized sex was. (And I'm sure I told all the kids THAT as well.) I had fun with Santa, while I believed. I also wondered why my parents kept lying when I clearly knew the truth.

Sawyer came home from school Thursday with a whole bunch of information that I didn't like. Namely that we should pray TO Santa, and that if he believes, he'll get all the Transformers he wants. Also that Santa has cameras everywhere and is able to move really fast through the whole world and it's true because he saw the movie. Oy. Seems like NOT making Santa a big deal and not being proactive in giving him information left a hole open for lots of bits of Santa mythology we didn't want.

In case you're wondering why we don't want Sawyer learning the typical Santa-as-real mythology, here are just a few reasons:

-I don't love the idea of telling our kids something is real, trying to convince them of it, and then having them find out it's a big farce. What's to separate that from the truths we are teaching them about God?? I honestly have heard stories from several people who are now adults that struggled with that very concept.

-I don't love the way this focuses Christmas on gifts, not on Jesus. With kids this is a natural trap to fall into, and I don't want to encourage it even more.

-I don't love the way Santa stuff is so focuses on being bad or good. It has underlying messages of be-good rather than the gospel message of we're-not-good-enough-which-is-why-we-need-Jesus.

Again, I have some great Santa memories from being a child. I also once told my mom, who said I needed to believe in Santa: "Yeah, I didn't believe last year and I didn't get much." I'm still not sure where we'll go on this, but have heard some great suggestions from friends and read a few interesting posts, namely this one from Mom on the Range and this from Charlie Park.

Any suggestions or thoughts from you guys on how to treat Santa, especially if you don't want them running to tell everyone the way I told all the Kindergarteners about sex?


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