Christmas is complicated.
I’m not one to tell another how to do their job, but Santa is slipping and we need to convince him to pull himself up by his bootstraps. It’s not his fault. He’s been around since at least the 1500’s and it’s entirely reasonable that he’s gotten himself into a rut and lost touch.
My angst towards him has nothing to do with the fact that he refused to bring me a Nintendo, but that’s where we’ll start.
When I was a kid, I was convinced owning a Nintendo would secure perpetual happiness. Santa, apparently, either disagreed or didn’t care because he never brought me one.
Of course, the perfectly acceptable reason for this is Santa’s continuous all-knowingness made it easy for him to see I hadn’t been particularly good in any given year. My charmingly-youthful misdeeds might have gone unnoticed at first glance, but he checks that list twice and no pouting, shouting or crying slips through the cracks of his gaze.
Nevertheless, every Christmas morning I convinced myself to expect to be unwrapping the most magical of gaming systems.
‘I didn’t get what I really wanted,’ I can vividly recall whining, obnoxiously, to my mother one Christmas afternoon. Now that I’m old, I know she would have been infinitely more heartbroken to hear that than I felt saying it.
She couldn’t know why Santa was snubbing me, but she did know she had done her very best to supplement whatever offerings he had brought with her own wrapped-with-care packages.
Thus, we have Christmas: a child convinced the world has ended because a specific present is missing and a parent at their wit’s end after giving all they had.
This unfortunate aspect of holiday merriment is entirely Santa’s fault. The pressure he brings to Christmas has become so immense that the actual meaning of the season is being crushed under its weight.
We’re supposed to take time off work to hug our kids and argue with otherwise-avoided family members over Tofurkey feasts. Instead, we max out our credit-cards and pull out our hair fretting over what Santa has put under the tree, where expectations crash into reality.
Wouldn’t December be so much better if we all spent it high-fiving each other for lasting another year? Lighting our pay-cheques on fire to meet expectations sent into orbit by a magical elf who has an army of unpaid labourers working out of a factory where nothing is impossible is exhausting.
Along with forcing our focus in the wrong direction, it seems Santa is all too willing to play within our established economic disparity.
He can, we believe, give anything to anyone. Yet, the luxuriance of the gifts he gives seems alarmingly in tune with the size of the homes he’s dropping them into. That’s tough on the kids who live in small ones, especially the ones who worked hard to stay on the nice-list all year.
It’s impossible enough for parents to teach their kids about the harsh realities of annual salaries and family budgets. I’m pretty sure my three-year-old son thinks three beach pebbles is a reasonable price to pay for a unicorn. It’s a whole other ballgame to try to explain why Santa gives bigger rewards to kids whose parents make more money.
It’s a better idea to let him dish out one gift to each kid on his nice-list and leave the rest of the bounty up to us. We need to help Santa tone down the extravagance of our holiday expectations. There’s too much pressure on everyone and, frankly, there’s too much fear at a time when fear shouldn’t even be on the horizon. School is out, work is too. Let’s celebrate being free and stress a little less about what’s happening under the tree.