Every year, the spawnlings are asked, “Have you been good for Santa?”
Sometimes, they answer with a polite “We don’t believe in Santa but we like to exchange gifts with loved ones during the Summer Solstice.”
Other times, I can see they really are too tired to explain it so they settle for “We don’t believe in Santa”. That usually passes the accusatory glare to me, and I’m okay with that.
This year, we have a new winner for best response:
“No. Santa’s dead.”
Courtesy of the four-year-old fascinated with old people and how they die.
We don’t do Santa in our family
Yep, I’m a cold-heartless bitch who is depriving our spawnlings of the most sacred magic of childhood… Believing in a man who visits your bedroom, while you’re sleeping, after stalking you all year long. To top it off, he is the Master of Extortion by holding your gifts ransom dependent on subjective levels of behavioural management.
Or at least that’s how the 11-year-old tells it.
In our home, we don’t celebrate Christmas. We don’t do Santa. We don’t decorate a tree. And for the love of all things cool, calm, and collected—we do not do the big roast dinner. Why? I’m Pagan. EG Dad is an Atheist. And the weather outside our Lair is a balmy 36 degrees Celsius with 90% humidity and a storm threatening to dump all of three raindrops on my freshly-washed laundry.
Instead, we celebrate the Summer Solstice.
Solstice (Summer or Winter) is an astronomical phenomenon. It is science. It is set in the stars. There is no messing around with whether it really happened because it simply does. Every year. It can’t be manipulated, delayed, or even cancelled—no matter how frustrating my kids may be after only one week of school holidays. Five more to go…
The Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year. It derives from the words sol (being our Sun), and stasis (being stationary). In astronomy, the Solstice is calculated for the moment the Sun appears stationary, or ‘rests’ a little longer in one position in the sky. In December 2017, we celebrated it last Friday 22 December.
We are not the only people in the world who celebrate the Solstice but we are still in the minority. So much so, when we are asked if the spawnlings believe in Santa, I always pause to consider if it would be easier to just say no and not spend the time explaining why.
Do You Believe in Santa Claus?
Truth is: We have told the spawnlings about Santa. We have told them the full story (as accurate as you can be based on a legend from hundreds of years ago).
Santa is based on jolly ol’ Saint Nicholas, a Greek monk who was very generous with gifts to help out less-fortunate people. Originally, the tradition was to give gifts to the bones of St Nick, kept in a Basilica in Bari, Italy. It was Martin Luther who suggested changing the focus to children; a rather successful albeit slightly political attempt at enticing children and families to Christianity rather than making it about Saint-worshipping.
When we tell this story to our spawnlings, we point out how old the legend is. We point out how strong the legend is. Most importantly, we point out how wonderful the legend is, whether or not it is true. The ‘spirit’ of St Nicholas is about sharing our fortune with others. We give gifts, we share with others, and we think more about what we can give rather than what we receive.
The Lessons of St Nicholas
There are two benefits from this honest lesson: First, the spawnlings learn the real magic of Santa Claus. The spirit of Santa is so strong, it can be shared amongst many people all around the world. Every Santa you see in a shopping center is another person reminding us about giving and sharing with others. Santa may be dead but he made enough of an impact to inspire copycats everywhere. After all, imitation is the greatest form of flattery.
The second benefit is even more important: it has taught our spawnlings gratitude for every single gift they receive. They do not wake up in the morning and expect Santa to have left a present for them. Instead, they understand the love behind every gift they receive. They know the true person giving the gift and thus are able to understand the thought behind the gift. In return, the spawnlings place far more consideration in their own gifts. They ensure every gift means something and is not simply “stuff”.
Santa is Personal
Everyone has their own interpretation of what Santa Claus means to them. We ‘get’ that. And we respect that. The only rule we have is “DO NOT RUIN IT FOR OTHERS!!” Rest your panties, minions. We have made it very clear to our spawnlings they do NOT tell this to other kids. We are not responsible for other kids and their parenting but I will also not be responsible for revealing the betrayal between another parent and child.
Not everyone believes in Santa. I have met some who are utterly repulsed by the idea, and to them, I say “Okay. You do YOU.” The thing is, you never know where someone stands on the issue, and no-one should be reprimanded for asking.
Thus how we ended up in our situation today. Our spawnlings are absolutely fine with their understanding of Santa. They are not afraid of your questions. You simply need to prepare yourself for the answer.
Santa is dead. Spread the word.
Happy Holidays for all your festivities at this time of year.
Edit: Just found this pic which suits Zaltu perfectly