Sunday, December 23, 2012

Letter to Santa from a middle-aged woman

Photo by rahego
Dear Santa

My kids want to know if you and I have a problem.
Busy with their letters, they asked why I'm not writing one too.

I said that you and I are totally fine (I left out the bit about 40 years ago when I wanted the talking Viewmaster but you gave it to my wee cousin Laura instead.)
I explained that adults don't really write letters to Santa, then my 10 year old (who's frankly too smart for his own good) shot me down in flames. Apparently, his Jewish friend had told him that, even though Santa Claus doesn't generally visit Jewish kids, as he feels it might be disrespectful to  their beliefs, he's more than happy to, providing their parents write a letter to Santa saying it's OK.

So, here it is. First letter in a good few decades.

What do I want for Christmas? -  Well...

Look, if you wanted to pay off the mortgage, or tell that douchebag who completely let me down that they're an ass, or if you could do something about my pant-size...
Any one of those things would be much appreciated, but the truth is, I'm grown up now, and I'm sort of used to handling that kind of stuff on my own.

There is one thing I 'd like though, and it's a favor.

Lose the "naughty or nice list."   That's right, you heard me. Lose it.

Because? Well, because the whole idea is crass.
You'll only give presents to kids who have been good. Kids who have been bad don't get anything and that this is all monitored by your trusty elves - who like magical little Stasi - keep note of everyone's behavior.

And I'm not even clear on the "why".
We tell our kids  they need to be good to get the reward and then what? Whilst they're obligatorily being good, they suddenly realise that "being good" is awesome -  as much fun as playing Minecraft but a whole lot more wholesome?

Kind of passive aggressive if you ask me.

But, the main reason is that, sometimes, you completely and spectacularly screw up. (And I am not talking cousin Laura here!)

We both know of  irritating, aggressive, spoiled and entitled miniature people who will awake,  Christmas morning, to great swathes of gifts that  - unless their reporting elf is drunk, stoned or absent -  there's no way they "deserve".

This year, my 5 year old's school 'adopted' several families who were in need.
These families are made up of decent people who, for whatever reason, have fallen on really hard times.
My friend, the school principal, told me, on receiving their gifts one of the mothers tearfully hugged her, thanking her on behalf of herself and her family, but also on behalf of another family who were there - one where the mother had just been diagnosed with breast cancer, and the way things were going, this may be the last Christmas she has.

I am telling you this Santa, because it seems that if the school hadn't adopted them,  you would have completely passed them by.
Any of this sinking in?

Those kids are 7 and 3.
What were they supposed to think on Christmas morning ?
Bad enough to be powerless in a terrible situation, without also being lead to believe that somehow you caused it.
Even if they're complete little psychopaths, how much damage can they have done in the time they've even been alive?

It's time to think about what message you're sending across here.

Look, I'm not saying you have to be perfect. Nobody is, and, in fact, that is exactly my point.
You screw up, I screw up. We all screw up, from time to time.
I'm trying to teach my kids that that's ok.

Life has its ups and downs, and I'll do whatever I can for my kids to make the ups much greater than the downs.
But downs will come.
And when they do, I want my kids to meet them with strength, not with guilt.
I want my kids, when they meet people who are in trouble, to feel compassion not superiority.
And I really DON'T want my kids not to go through life with the notion that there's an invisible elf somewhere taking stock.
(I've met way too many adults who still live their lives like that.)

My kids will get a ton of stuff for Christmas, from me and from you.
The fact they've been good this year is entirely a co-incidence and completely irrelevant.
That's what I'm telling them.
And that's what you're going to be telling them too.
In a letter. I've written. From you.

So, this Christmas, I will handle the mortgage, and that douchebag who let me down and I'll  cope with the pant-size thing. And you? - just  lose the "naughty or nice list."

Then, you and I can call it quits on the Talking Viewmaster.

Sort of.