Flickr: Photo by mollypopI know I seem like a mean mother -- especially where holidays are concerned. While many parents are weaving tales of the Easter Bunny hiding baskets of chocolate eggs in the back lawn, I rail on about the dangers of marketing to children, the commercialization of religious traditions, and the fact that candy is a health hazard.
At Christmas, if my kids feel compelled to sit on the lap of a red-suited, overweight, part-time employee at the mall, they do not for a minute imagine that that man will be bringing them toys via our gas-fire chimney.
And though other people's children may loose a tooth and go to bed imagining that some currency-wielding fairy is going to abscond with their incisor, mine merely laugh and tell me they want "two dollars for this one."
Not buying into the myth-making machine of the American merchandiser is not an attempt to kill fantasy or imagination. It is not because I don't believe in the "spirit" of Christmas or the magic of childhood. I treasure all of the above and actually see our mass-market culture of ultimately exposed fiction and disappointed expectation as far more damaging to a child's psyche than denying the existence of flying reindeer.
Yes, Virginia, there was a Santa Claus. He was a kind-hearted priest in Asia Minor during the 4th Century, who saved poor girls from an unspeakable future by providing dowries for them. He is not what Macy's and Coke and every other retailer would have you believe.
Someday -- no matter how elaborate and colorful or touching and full of poignancy our stories are -- our kids will find out the truth. We were the ones who filled the stockings, hid the eggs, and left the money. The rabbits and fairies and workshop elves were just things we made up to make them happy. And then they will look at us and ask us about God.
What do we say then and why should they believe us?