Guest Blogger Emily: A few weeks ago, as my husband and I walked past a way-too-skinny Santa at the mall, I asked him if he would ever allow our son Jacob to take a picture with Santa. "No, we're Jewish," he said incredulously. "Santa's bullsh*t!"
"Well, I grew up taking pictures with Santa at the mall, and I was never confused about what holiday we really celebrated," I said defensively.
"Yeah, but Santa's not even real. And I'm going to tell him that."
"What?! Why would you tell him that?"
"Because he should know. Why should he grow up believing that a fat guy in a red suit is going to climb down his chimney, let alone anyone's chimney, and deliver gifts?! That's ridiculous. Might as well tell him the truth now ... and tell him to spread the word."
WAIT. STOP. Is my normally festive, forward-thinking and liberal-minded husband suggesting that we teach our son that good ol' Saint Nick -- a holiday icon for the majority of the world -- is fake, and that he's not even real for the kids whose religion actually embraces him?! I was floored.
I figured that as Jacob gets older, he will obviously hear about Santa and will want to know about him ... and I figured that our game plan would be to tell him that Santa doesn't come to our house because we celebrate Hanukkah, BUT that on Christmas, he may go to his friend Blake's house or to our next-door neighbor's house or get too drunk with Mrs. Claus and stay in for the night ... I don't know, something! But I had never intended on disclosing the real truth behind Santa. Why would I? Won't he grow up one day and figure it out on his own -- or be told by guest blogger Grinch's mean daughter that Santa's not real?! Why should our kid have to be the bearer of bad news?
When I was a kid, I can remember going to school one day after losing a tooth, and proudly exclaiming that the tooth fairy had left me 50 cents under my pillow. (BTW, a ten spot would've been nice, Mom.) But when the girl who developed before anyone else told me, "The tooth fairy?! The tooth fairy's not real. DUH! It's your mom, stupid," my heart sank. What?! I was devastated, and begged my mom to tell me the truth. But it was too late -- and my mom was a terrible liar. My hopes and dreams that a little fairy who looked like Tinker Bell and carried around bags and bags of baby teeth from children around the world were ruined. With that image in mind, the thought of spoiling whatever fantasies and make-believe that swirl in my son's brain seems cruel.
Obviously we're Jewish, and obviously we don't "celebrate" Christmas, but that doesn't mean we have to put the kibosh on Santa. He's not really even a religious figure at this point anyway! And sure, it'd be nice if the rest of the world glorified Hanukkah and made it as mainstream as Christmas. But the reality is, it probably never will -- and little Timmy and Jane in Bumble F*ck, Nebraska, aren't ever going to yearn for Hanukkah songs and dreidel games.
We will never hang stockings, or have a Christmas tree, or leave cookies out for Santa. But if Jacob wants to believe that Santa's busy at the neighbor's house, trying to stuff himself through the drain in the sink to get inside (which is what I imagined as a child, since no one I knew had chimneys), then so be it.
Now the Easter Bunny, that's a whole different story ....