Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Spin Cycle- Tradition

It's like a merry go round of fun and excitement. Reach for the gold ring, then go see Jen, over at Sprite's Keeper (where most people probably got their spin's in on time...)

Ok, I'm late again. I know. It's been a busy week. But I have to spin. Why? Because all week this song has been going through my head, from Fiddler on the Roof. Why is it that so many spins end up with me having a random song in my head???

"Tradition" was the subject of a late night conversation last week. Christmas tradition, to be specific. Because it feels as though it's right around the corner. As would be expected, PB and I were raised with different Christmas traditions. Everybody does it different, right? But now we have to decide who's to pick for LG and o. Because they can't really be integrated.

We're not talking about dinner, or church or any of that stuff. We're talking about the man in red. The flying UPS man. Santa.

PB was raised in what I've assumed to be the most popular way for "Christians" these days. Let the little ones believe in Santa until a reasonable age, or some older kid ruins it for them. I'm pretty sure his parents weren't those overboard types who did foot prints on the roof, or carrots for the reindeer (but I can't be sure). They still went to church, everybody knew it was Jesus birthday and all that, but to them Santa was real. And he brought toys. If I'm understanding my MIL right, it was only toys. Everything else came from Mom and Dad. Sounds reasonable, right?

Here's the catch: we were never brought up to believe Santa was real. Not at any given moment did I think Santa was any different from Frosty the Snowman, or the Grinch. A fun Christmas story, and that's all. I knew all about him, but was not taught that he was real today, flying around giving out presents. Presents came from Mom and Dad, and relatives, to celebrate Jesus birthday. And you'd better believe that we had to go to church and thank Jesus for letting us share his loot before we could touch so much as a stocking sitting under that tree. Don't get me wrong, we made out like bandits. All the traditional bikes, and candies. But we thanked God and Mom and Dad. Not some mythical dude with flying herbivores. ( I should mention here that we were instructed NOT to speak of Santa to other kids. My parents did not want us ruining the neighbors Christmas traditions.)

So, the crux of the problem- to Santa or not to Santa? I would vote no. I don't even like Santa statues. I don't like cards with Santa. For me, he blurs the message. And it feels like I'm lying to my kids. To PB, it feels like he's stealing a little bit of their childhood by not letting them have the Santa myth for a while. And I can see his point. Part of childhood is believing in things that don't exist. Like fairies, and trolls, and honest politicians.

But to me, Santa is a tradition for the want to be Christians. The people who don't go to church, and don't really celebrate, but need something to allow them to buy presents and put up a tree. And I'm ok with that. They can have Santa and the Easter Bunny, too. Everyone should have a reason to give at the holidays.

And so we sat at 2:am, discussing the pros and cons of the situation. At times like these, I wish we were Jewish. Don't see the little Jewish kids hoping Hanukkah Harry will leave them extra geld for playing dreydl with, do you? (I might add that this was one of my favorite times of the year to visit our Jewish relatives. No Christian game holds a match to dreydl. Lions and the Romans aside.)

In the end, we resolved nothing. We're pretty sure LG and o are still both going to be too young to care this year. Which gives us another year to decide, I guess.

Throw your thoughts at me. What's your take?

And then have a great week. We'll see you next week, when the spin will be about arts and crafts. And I might be on time since we have an auntie visiting for the week to help out. Woo hoo.


Sprite's Keeper said...

Then again, it may not be that great to be Jewish. We knew Santa wasn't real, but were also warned not to ruin it for others. Still, we were jealous of the traditions others got to share. A lit up tree in your house? Awesome! Toys and gifts? Rock on! Cookies for Santa? Can I help you bake them?
Being an integrated family, we are fully immersing Sprite into the Santa thing, mostly because I don't see the harm in her believing in some fairy tales and she believes in Princesses. I don't think this is too far off. (And we're raising her Jewish too. How's that for religious confusion?)
LG and o will enjoy whatever tradition you throw at them, whether or not Santa is involved. Because it's from YOU. You're linked!

Jan said...

I LOVE Santa. I have a large collections of Santas (mostly vintage-looking Father Christmas, actually), along with a large collection of snowmen that come out every year. (I've pondered adding penguins to the mix, 'cause they're just so darn cute, but Beloved threatened to strangle me in my sleep if I did). I guess I just don't see the harm in letting kids believe in the Jolly Fat Guy, but that's because I couldn't imagine life without him. Well, I could, but I wouldn't want to.

I was also going to say something about your assertion that Santa is just an excuse for the non-religious to celebrate the holiday - because I don't necessarily disagree with you - but I think I'll give it its own post. I tend to do things like that.

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

That's sort of a similar conundrum my hubby and I had when deciding "do we, or don't we?" Ironically enough, my hubby is half-Jewish, but he wasn't raised with the 'traditional' Jewish holidays, and his parents also didn't 'allow' him to believe in Santa.

When I was growing up, my parents 'allowed' us to believe in Santa - it was a magical time and some very fond memories. Then when we got older, my parents switched it to celebrating Jesus' birthday and Santa was eliminated from the holiday altogether.

Hubby and I both decided to let Princess Nagger have some of that awesome 'magic' that was lacking in hubby's childhood, and was 'taken away' when my dad decided enough was enough and to go from one side of the spectrum to the other. :)

We figure PN is a smart cookie, she'll figure it out sooner than later, so we might as well let her enjoy her childhood and so she won't ruin it for other kids - because I'm not so sure she'd be able to keep the fact that Santa isn't real under wraps. (grin!)

I agree with Jen - whatever tradition you decide will be enjoyed by LG and o no matter what...because it comes from you. :)

blueviolet said...

I always found the magic of Santa to be a fun element of the holiday season but it was just an element, not the entire thing. It's all about balance and we all have to find the balance that's best for us.

You will come to the right conclusion for your children. Your instincts will guide you. :)

Maureen@IslandRoar said...

You guys are great parents; the fact that you're laboring over this issue is more proof of that. Whatever you decide, your kids will be fine. Christmas is such a magical time of year; I STILL believe in Santa.