I loved reading all the comments on yesterday's post. Thanks to everyone who chimed in. More on the subject:
I agree with everyone who said that there's a pretty slim chance of a child being scarred by what they were told about Santa. I've never known anyone who was mad at their parents for letting them believe Santa was real. I also don't know any people who wish they had been told he was real. A friend emailed me today about yesterday's post and said a lot of really interesting things, including, "In the end, I think that it doesn't matter either way. No one seems especially traumatized one way or the other that I can tell. I can't think of anyone who hates their parents for how they handled it or who, as a result, has a lack of faith in other things or whatever. It just seems like some childhood thing that comes and goes with no damage."
That's the theory at least. Anyone know anyone who feels Santa trauma?
This same friend had this to say about Christmas gift giving:
"If we didn't buy presents for anyone over seventeen, it would solve lots of problems. Why do adults need to exchange gifts? Aren't we old enough to buy our own crap? If we could somehow only give each other presents when we have some thoughtful idea, without anyone getting their feelings hurt, that would be great. The forcing and expectation is what ruins things: especially when sometimes people say they don't want or need anything and they actually mean it and we get them something anyway. C and I make fun of the diamond commercials they run every year, when the TV tells you what diamond thing you're supposed to get your wife this year.
If I ran Christmas, kids would get gifts and adults would get warm feelings."
I liked his ideas there, especially that last line. This friend and I were talking on the phone this afternoon about how the real fun at Christmas, once we're all grown up, is getting gifts for the kiddos. Last year, Abe had a bunch of stuff to open up just because we found it so fun to wrap things up for him and watch him open everything. We like to give kids gifts. That's just how it is. But it's easy when they're only a year old, like Abe was last year, and pretty much oblivious to what was going on. Now he's a wizened two, and we really don't want him to get sucked into the "I want, I want, I want" vortex. So I really liked the idea Christina had about the five gift tradition: something you need, something you want, something to wear, something to read, and something to share. I might even be inclined to make it even simpler. I like the idea of recycling gifts too (from thrift stores and hand-me-downs). My friend, in the same email, also wrote about what he thinks is the best holiday and why:
"...That's why I'm currently thinking is the best holiday. There's a minimal effort and a large payoff. You get some costume (sometimes the cheaper the better) and buy a sack of candy and you're pretty much ready to go. You can decorate as much or as little as you want and no one will judge. It's more of a community thing than Christmas is. The movies are more fun. There's nothing cheesy or saccharine about Halloween: it's kinda hip actually. You're not hearing about it everywhere you go. No religion is involved (except for those who wrongly think there is). There are a variety of ways to celebrate. Kids can be kids and can be cute. No one is wanting to kill themselves. Satan's blessings are everywhere.
Even Thanksgiving...is probably a better holiday--but in its case, only because of the promise of Christmas. You have some turkey dinner or whatever and see some family and you start getting excited about Christmas and pulling out Christmas records and thinking about shopping: but you're not sick of everything yet. You're not wanting to kill the next actor in the next Christmas commercial selling a Samsung Blu-Ray player. But then Black Friday hits and someone gets fatally trampled at and the comes alive."
I get what he's saying (please, don't be offended by the comment about religion. And the "Satan's blessing" is a joke). I realized tonight though that I have all kinds of emotion attached to Christmas, like no other holiday. On my walk with Abe this afternoon, we walked past a house that was being decorated. The owners were playing Christmas music from the front porch, and as Abe and I sat there on their front steps talking about the decorations, I got all choked up. Tears welled up in my eyes from hearing some Christmas song playing; I don't even remember what it was. But my childhood appeared right in front, conjured by the music, the way it did when Max scratched his name on the side of his boat in Where the Wild Things Are.
I am very lucky that I had a happy childhood and bunches of happy Christmases. I bet there are a lot of people who didn't. For me though, probably because of all the happy memories attached to it (and not just because of the gifts), Christmas is still my favorite. My high school best friend's favorite holiday was Halloween, which I never really understood, maybe until now as it was just explained in my friend's email (not the same friend). It got me wondering what you all think the best holiday is and why? Anyone out there nutso for Valentine's or St. Paddy's Day?