We encourage our children to value honesty, yet we value duping our children.
Today I had the pleasure of ruining an already awkward professional lunch. How? Not with politics, religion or even dietary practices. No, this social train-wreck was all thanks to Santa.
Going by the looks of jaw-dropped horror and misplaced pity, you’d have thought I had revealed I was a parent-less nomad who spent my childhood dumpster-diving for meals and keeping warm by street vents. But, no. What incurred this onslaught of conversational tension was this simple reply to a series of presumptuous questions:
“When I was seven, my mom trusted me with the truth, and she told me there was no such thing as Santa.”
I went on, “She also told me it was an adult secret, and I that I wasn’t to share it with other kids.” I never did, but the damage was done. I had blasphemed their tradition of deception. I defiled the considerable effort their parents had exerted upon them, and that they now exert upon their children, to bamboozle them to believe in the reindeer-riding, chimney-sliding, cookie-eating, gift-giving, red-cheeked Father Christmas.
I felt dirty and small. And, yet again, outcast from mainstream America that, for the past 42 years of my life, has tried oh so diligently to get me to play along. To pretend that truth is a depressing downer, and that illusion is a jovial upper. I wanted to flee that table, flee the culture that deems duping children as a socially acceptable behavior. My mom, who raised me without illusion, had done me a disservice.
Not only can children handle the truth, they are purveyors of it. That is until they learn all the sordid little tactics adults feed them about how to “get on in the world.” You know what I want to jingle? I want to jingle the As-It-Is bell. I want the outcast thing to be pretense, bullshit and other soul-drainers. Multi-generational lies are not fun. They are not amusing. They are an unexamined social phenomena that is begging to be outgrown.
Less facsimile. More actuality. Now that would be a refreshing Yuletide.
Erika Harris has never believed in Santa, and she makes no apology about that. She’s usually much less agitated than portrayed here. Take a gander at her website.
Editor: Wendy Keslick
Photo: Wendy Keslick
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