Tuesday, December 24, 2013

About Santa. We Have Something to Tell You...

Doug:  One of the rites of passage of youth, at least among those of a Christian background, is the "finding out" that Santa Claus just ain't real.  Today we're asking you to reflect on that moment, or perhaps for you it was an evolution of thought, when you found out that ol' Saint Nick wasn't really coming down your chimney.

Doug:  To be honest, and this may be hypocritical of me, I don't recall when or how I found out.  I'm going to cop out and say it was on the playground, because after all -- isn't that where many of us learned all of the important "facts of life"?  So instead of my experience, I'll relate a tale of how we informed our younger son.

Doug:  He's such an innocent guy -- really to this day as a college sophomore he's still a loyal, sympathetic kid.  So when he was around 8- or 9-years old, and still a believer, my wife and I decided that we needed to tell him before he got into an embarrassing situation at school.  What's that expression?  "The quickest way to a man's heart is through his stomach"?  So we take the little guy to our local Barnes & Noble and serve him up a big hot chocolate and a huge cookie.  We sit at a counter with our backs to the other patrons and begin the process of rocking his little world.  It was humorously painful (if there is such a thing) to watch his face as the weight of our words became realization for him.  He quit eating and just sat for what seemed like a very long time.  And then we could see a light come on, and a whole new level of disdain cross his face -- "Does this mean the Tooth Fairy isn't real, either?!?"  Poor guy...

Doug:  How about you?  Got a story?  And for those of you celebrating, a very Merry Christmas from us to you!


Anonymous said...

The way I choose to see it, Santa Claus is just another name for the spirit of giving. So, yes Virigina, there *is* a Santa!

david_b said...

Doug, your story sounds a lot like mine, as I'm sure most will today.

I must have been 8 or 9 and my Mom told me at home that there wasn't a Santa. Apparently I walked back into my bedroom, came back a few minutes later, and inquisitively asked, 'So I'm assuming there isn't an Easter Bunny either..?'

Pretty funny. But like most I think of him as a splended embodiment of giving and expressing charity and hope to loved ones and strangers alike.

Edo Bosnar said...

To be honest, I never really believed in Santa - guess I was a skeptic from an early age. My parents never really encouraged (but never actively discouraged, either) these sorts of things with me and my older siblings. So it was obvious to me from the start that my Christmas presents were brought by my parents.

Doug said...

Anonymous and David, I agree with your comments. This is why we never had a problem (and neither my wife's or my families had any trouble either) fitting the legend of Santa Claus into our other Judeo-Christian teachings -- both in the home and at church. We are a church-going family (Protestants), and sometimes find our fellow congregants who don't participate in the fun and greater message to be somewhat less imaginative... bordering on close-minded. But I really don't want to get into any sort of political or religion-bashing conversation today. Instead, for our readers who do not know the historical background of St. Nicholas (which is not all rosy, all the time), I'll offer you this link.

Be well in this season of giving and caring,


david_b said...

My mom still has some of those old style Christmas books, with the lavish art of elves at the North Pole. The were magnificently drawn and embellished, and she would read 'em to me each Christmas.

Couple that with the plate of a half-eaten christmas cookie (with crumbs) and half-glass of milk at the kitchen table in the morning along with a 'merry christmas' note from Santa, when I woke up early...? My parents really went out of their way to make the Santa myth very, very real to me.

And boy, Santa knew how to wrap those big Major Matt Mason playsets under the tree.

david_b said...

Ah, the beautiful George Hinke books from the late '50s is what I'm referring to from my youth. You can google '"george hinke" christmas', or here's a etsy auction with 5 pics..:


I'll get 'round to embedding links someday. :)

Anonymous said...

It is so weird to me that parents would go out of their way to inform their children about the mythological nature of Santa at some late date (when I have kids I plan to let them in on it from the beginning).

I had the opposite experience. When I was about 8 or 9 and was certain there was no Santa (as kids had been saying it for years in school) I announced it at home and got in trouble! You would think I had declared I didn't believe in God or Jesus! (that wouldn't come until I was about to be confirmed and refused). My mother was REALLY mad at me, and I had to retract - and was really righteous about how she STILL believed. It was weird to me then and it is still weird to me now. To this day I would never mention that Santa isn't real in front of my mom or my older sister - to them that is the same as saying BAH HUMBUG unironically. They still talk about Santa bringing gifts and being naughty or nice, etc. . . in the same breath that they will tell you what to buy them as a gift. I guess for them it is a kind of role-play that is part of the holiday spirit, but I just find it annoying.

Then again, as I said before I am a Grinch and a Scrooge. ;)

On the other hand, I do plan to tell my kids all sorts of wacked out stories - just original ones. :)

MattComix said...

For me it was more of a slow realization rather than a having a truth-bomb dropped on me.

At first it was a little sad but then I think I quickly realized that Santa much like my favorite superhero, fantasy, and sci-fi character symbolizes an idea and it's the meaning of that idea which is real.

The character is a way of celebrating it. Granted this is a character that has also been used extensively in the interest of crass commercialism and turning Christmas shopping into a something between a contact sport and a sanctioned riot. But I see that more as failure of the dreamers rather than the dream so to speak.

Incidentally, out of various versions of Santa's costume I tend to like the more father Christmas kind of designs where he looks almost like a wizard. Not to say that the iconic or what my wife refers to as "Coca Cola Santa" is bad.

david_b said...

Ah, a Festivus miracle erupts..:

George Hinke classic Christmas Book

Tada - My first embedded link.

Remember, 'a Festivus for the rest of us.."


J.A. Morris said...

I had a few "playground" moment, jokes like "Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and (something else that isn't real, can't recall) walk into a bar...". I asked my parents around age 8 or 9 and they told me the truth. I cried, not because they "lied", but because I was sad to learn there wasn't someone that good in the world.

It was easier for me to believe than others, since I was isolated in Wyoming. When I was a little kid, the nearest shopping mall, and the nearest Santa were an hour away from our apartment. When you don't see "Santa Claus" on every corner, it's easier to believe he's real.

Steve Does Comics said...

Santa Claus really wasn't at all popular in Britain when I was a kid. It was Father Christmas who got all the credit for bringing presents, and Santa was seen as some feeble pretender to the throne who'd get his bottom handed to him on a plate if he ever tried to mix it with Father Christmas. As you can see, we were all full of the Christmas spirit of tolerance and peace and harmony back in those days.

Having said that, I came from a rampantly atheist family and was never left in any doubt that Father Christmas was fictional and that presents came from the shops and found their way into the house via the front door.

Nowadays, of course, I have the sense to know that Father Christmas really does exist and is the root of all prezzies.

Teresa said...

When I was four years old, I was skeptical about this Santa business. I cornered my mother and grilled her until I got the truth. These are a few of the questions:

1. We don't have a chimney, how did he get in?
2. Santa's wrapping paper and bows are the same as yours in the closet.
3. You said Santa brought the gifts, not you. While we ALL were sleeping? Why do the "from Santa" tags have your handwriting?

Her story had holes big enough to drive a truck through. There was a lot of backpedaling and contradictions. This invited more questions. She eventually broke under the pressure.

Anonymous said...

I have not commented here for a long time, and planned on not doing so again; I had been cowed down after mentioning something of importance going on in my country / this world of ours. I know this is all escapism, but half the time many of you on the internet take what should be serious and dismiss / neglect it, and do just the opposite on the other end.

Doug- your commentary is one that made me write. You talk of your religion, yet what you said about your son came off as overly self-aware, callous, and made him sound like a commodity. By the way, a lot of you who have had the opportune fortune of having a voice on the internet, come off as supremely jaded and soul-less; guess this is just symptomatic of our general world, anyway- part of the System that I have wanted to avoid wholeheartedly endorsing my entire life; for all your adoration of comic fantasy, etc., I wonder if very many of you realize just how thoroughly you have become tools of this 'System'- something I think most of you would have been antagonistic to, at one time.

I want to add that I have spoken- and CAN speak- outside of this unseen venue-- seeing as I am a decent writer, and have been around before this over-reliance on digital communication.

I am an artist by heart, and so it is my obligation to express myself; once again, whatever I said before here, that I got knocked down on, it was of vital importance; I was supremely disheartened, but not too surprised, by some responses.

Anyway, instead of empty greetings, perhaps look around at the basic state of life right now- maybe realize something haywire is increasingly going on in this System; you want to call it political and cause for (stupid) side-taking- go ahead. Take the Season we are in- which has lost much depth of worth, from either Christian OR pagan origins, to commercialization- and maybe see that there is something to be taken to make a realization of Life- and not to JUST be a cog in this machine.


Anonymous said...

My older sister told me the truth about Santa Claus; she took glee in it too, she was meaner than a rattle snake and pure-D evil, that one.
She works for the prison system in Missouri, now!
But she's a good ma and a good grandma, so she's mellowed some.
I hope.
Happy holidays to all, whatever your deal is!

Anonymous said...

Nothing much to say here - Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all the BAB community!

- Mike from Trinidad & Tobago.

Redartz said...

I really don't recall the specific revelatory occasion. As a 7 year old I looked out the window late Christmas Eve with my little brother. We saw what no doubt was a plane, but we were certain it was Rudolph! Yet by another year or so, 'reality' had set in.

Of course, idealistic optimist that I try to be, I find Christmas still can evoke hopeful sentiments. Our boys, when young, eagerly set out the cookie tray. Telling them of the true source of their gifts was a simple matter, they suspected already by that time.

As for now, the world all too frequently assaults us with the sorrows and madness that mankind is capable of. It is very easy to become cynical. Nonetheless, I feel that our best hope lies in nurturing the element of goodwill that inspired the stories of kindly old "St. Nick".

May you all have a safe and happy holiday and New Year!

Rip Jagger said...

I don't remember for myself. But this did make me think of my eldest daughter Virginia.

When I was in college, it was a small school and most people knew one another. The Amazing Randi came to make a speech for convocation and he was doing his debunking thing as he was wont to do. It was around the Christmas season as I recollect and for some reason I took my daughter with me, a very small sweet little girl she was.

At one point in his speech Randi says to polish a particular point "No Virginia, there is NO Santa Claus". I still remember startled and concerned heads swiveling to see if my daughter heard it. I don't know if she did, or even understood, but it was nice to know the whole community in that moment cared about the tender feelings of one little girl.

Randi never knew.

Rip Off

Edo Bosnar said...

It's already late Christmas morning here in SE Europe, and I don't know if Doug or Karen are going to post anything today, so I'll just say Merry Christmas to everyone here.

As for me, now that Adam - based on the posts and comments on this blog - has keenly peered into all of our souls (and indeed, our everyday lives and (pre-)occupations) and revealed how callous and shallow we all are, I guess I'll be spending the rest of the day lamenting the fact. :P Sorry, couldn't resist...

Seriously, though, have a good one everybody (you, too, Adam - no sarcasm).

Teresa said...

Merry Christmas everyone!

Karen said...

Adam, I don't know what 'incident' you're referring to -I know there have only been a couple of times I've come down on anyone, and that was when they were making personal attacks on other readers. We don't like to 'drive' anyone away.

I do sense your distress though, and I'm very sorry, particularly to hear it coming on Christmas Eve. I would agree, the world is a less than perfect place. And I am sure that many of those who come to read BAB have their own personal issues going on. I know some have been out of work due to the terrible economic issues. Others have health issues or have lost loved ones. Given all this, I like to think of BAB as a sort of oasis where they can escape all of that for a few minutes each day and just have a chance to read something that will bring a smile to their face.

There are plenty of political and news sites out there to deliver information and allow for discourse if anyone wants to take part in them. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the regulars here also visit those sites. But at this site, we want to stay focused on lighter subject matter. It's not a matter of censoring people, it's simply what we want to cover.

And with that, I want to say Merry Christmas to all, or if Christmas ain't your bag, then a happy solstice, a cheery winter, and love all around.

Doug said...

Funny story when I saw the reference to "the System": Back when I was a young asst. cross country coach we used to try to get splits every mile for our runners (every half mile for the better kids). Sometimes we wouldn't' t get to the mark on time or would even miss a kid altogether. I, to this day, when something goes slightly awry will say "just use the System"! What that means is, if you don't know it, just make it up!


Fred W. Hill said...

Y'know, I can't even remember when I stopped believing in Santa. I'm sure it was by age 8 but I don't remember a specific aha moment. Obviously it couldn't have been that big a deal to me and I didn't go out of my way to spread the news to my two younger siblings, one of whom was only 10 months younger and he probably figured it out on his own around the same time I did, and I wasn't about to spoil for the baby of our clan. I just realized it was a bit of fun for both grownups and kids. I do remember when I was 6 and my family lived in Navy housing in Japan, in a unit without a chimney, my mother allaying the concerns of my brother and I by telling us that Santa didn't need a chimney to get inside (whew!)
Mom & Dad continued labeling a few big presents as "from Santa" for a few years past the time I stopped believing, but I continued going along with it, just to keep in the spirit of the day. I came out as an atheist to my family several years ago -- fortunately no one in my immediate family makes a big fuss about it and I just continue to go along with whatever traditions are practiced with whoever I'm visiting for the holidays. I'm just glad no one ever asks me to say grace, maybe because they suspect I might say something like, "Ok, Grace, get in here and let's eat! Ramen."

Vintage Bob said...

What in the world are some of you talking about? All this nonsense about Santa not being real...humbug! If he's not real, then who is it that's been leaving gifts under my tree for almost a half century despite both my parents being long gone?

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