To believe or not to believe - that is the question. Why we encourage our kids to believe in Santa Claus is a constant riddle to me. We summon his omnipresence when October rolls around, threatening that bad behavior from this point on will earn them nothing but a sack of coals. And are they good? Well...temporarily.
I'm guilty, too. But as I tell my boys that Santa is reconsidering their list if they don't stop fooling around I can see that deep down, they know I'm feeding them a bunch of malarkey.
I know what's important to them: it's that they get the lousy toys they asked for. Who gets it for them or how it gets delivered is of no importance whatsoever. They play along with the charade, however, whether it's to humor me or to have the power to bust a brother's chops.
Just the other morning at breakfast, pandemonium broke out because I served eggs instead of chocolate Cheerios. When Zuki decided to spill some eggs on the table rather than eat it, his little brother was quick to conjure Santa's power.
"Ooo, Santa's not gonna bring you any presents cuz you made a mess, right Mommy?"
I didn't concur. As a matter of fact, I wondered what I created - a four-year-old using Santa's name in vain...how is this situation any different from George Orwell's "1984"?
It isn't really. And I find it typically Western - be good because you are being watched and judged by some guy! It's either Jesus, Santa or Big Brother but at any rate you can be sure they're not using AT&T to have that much coverage.
Eastern culture, on the other hand, relies on Karma. It's not seasonal, marketable or even selective. If you choose to believe what goes around, comes around then you know there's a price to pay for every action. Sometimes it's instant, like the time Samu kicked his brother, gave him a Bronx Cheer and took off only to smash into a wall. Other times, it takes a day - like the time I kept the change of a hundred-dollar bill instead of the fifty I used to pay a tab. I was smug with my profit but the very next day, I was served a fifty-dollar fine for not picking up my dog's poop. That was some expensive shit, right there.
There is no reason why the boys can't live with both, Karma and Santa. I guess it's the need for children to personify and put a face to Santa that disturbs me a little. They refuse to sit on the lap of a man dressed as Santa at a shopping mall. Yet, the UPS man - who is Black - delivered packages last week and my four-year-old who assumed the packages were Christmas presents asked the UPS man, "Are you Santa?" Luckily, the UPS guy was smart. He told my son that Santa wears a red uniform, not a brown one.
Hopefully, when my boys discover that there is no such thing as Santa, they won't be too devastated. Of course they'll understand that the reason they get presents at Christmas is because they have family and friends that love them and not because there's an Elf sweatshop somewhere at the North Pole. Until then, I'll have to check myself that I don't accidentally spill the beans - it's right up there with watching my language.