Where real moms tell it like it is.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Thanks Be To Santa Or Not

Christmas used to be such an uncomplicated time of year in my childhood home in Miami. My Cuban Catholic family would attend midnight mass on Noche Buena -- or Christmas Eve -- and I would stand in the pew, fantasizing about what Santi Clos would bring me the next morning. Not a single gift would appear underneath the tree before the morning of the 25th. My father made sure of it, pulling an all-nighter on the 24th, wrapping well-hidden gifts so that Santa Claus would remain real to me until the 1st grade -- when a classmate spilled the beans.

Yes, I was sad to learn that Santa wasn't real. But as an adult who fondly looks back at her childhood Christmases and is forever grateful to her poor father who got no sleep or thanks for the gifts, I find myself perturbed by people like my husband and letter writers to BabyCenter and Berkeley Parents Network who question whether it is harmful to allow kids to believe in Santa. Here is an excerpt of a letter on BabyCenter by a mom who wishes to let her child believe in Santa even though it conflicts with her husband's beliefs:

Josie says, "My child's dad is refusing to let our 1-year-old believe in Santa Claus. He says it's wrong for us to 'lie' to him and that 'lying' about Santa could traumatize him. I just want our son to have the normal childhood memories of sitting on Santa's lap, waiting for Santa on Christmas Eve, and writing him a Christmas list. Help!"

I understand we live in an ethnically-diverse society -- especially here in Berkeley -- and that not every religion believes in Santa. Questioning the gross commercialism this time a year is also a legitimate concern. But children are already forced to grow up quickly because of our media saturated airwaves and other peer pressure. What's wrong with a little make believe? Where did the child in all of us go?


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