Occupy This: A Letter To Santa

 

A stachue of santa claus

A statue of Santa Claus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Fair Warning: This post is deliberately meant to challenge certain long-held ideas. It is intended to shock you into awareness. I will try to do so as kindly as possible, I know most of you are not willfully ignorant, but I want to help you to be the best you can be, even if, maybe especially if, that means getting you to give up something you love.  I also do not want to out you to your children, so please, don’t let them read this without reading it yourself, and even then, only after you have seriously reflected on it.

 

I know it is only August. Christmas is still four months away. Visions of air conditioners and bathing suits still push out sugar plums. Still, this topic is on my mind. I live in the city, I work in the city, I usually play in the city and in doing all these I have noted a curious absence around that time of year. Oh, everyone decorates as best they can. You can hear Christmas carols in the 19th Ward as readily as you can Fairport. No, it is the morning after Christmas I notice it.

 

Somehow Santa Claus has missed entire neighborhoods. He is a busy guy, I know. Seven billion people to visit in one night, and I complain about the hundred or so I have to in one afternoon, it makes me feel like a bit of a slacker. I am sure he has to cut corners to do so, and how can you blame him? I wonder though, how he chooses which places to skip. Surely there cannot be entire neighborhoods full of bad girls and boys, can there? I have known some of these children. It has to be some kind of mistake… every year. So I have written him a letter.

 

Dear Santa;

I want to start by saying I am a big fan. Red is one of my favorite colors to wear (very slimming, as I am sure you are aware) and we both share a fondness for deer (please be careful when visiting certain rural areas.) You have a work ethic that beggars description and always write such nice notes when I leave milk and cookies for you. I do have a concern though.

I have friends that you seem to miss every year. Little DeShaun, Emily and Hector are good little kids. They help their moms and dads, especially when they only have one or the other. They work real hard in school even though they have to compete with forty other kids for the teacher’s attention. They are never in any sort of trouble. They have a great many friends that are the same way. I have never known them to be bad in any way.

So I have to ask, why do you not come to their homes? You could not have put them on your naughty list, could you? They don’t belong there. I know you are busy, but I also know how much you look out, so I know you know how bad my friends have it. They could sure use a little love from the world’s favorite, jolly, old elf.

Because if they don’t get it, and soon, they are going to start believing they are on your naughty list. If they start believing they are on your naughty list, they are going to start believing they are naughty, no matter how good they are, and if they start believing that, well, they may decide being good really isn’t that good after all.

I don’t know how much American TV, or radio, or internet, or print you get up in the North Pole (do you even have mail service or WiFi?) but if you have seen any of it, you know that it does a pretty good job of making my friends believe they are automatically less than other kids. It would sure break their hearts if the Spirit of Generosity and Kindness confirmed this. If that happens, well, I don’t want to think about what could happen to them.

So if you could please do me a favor, and I know it is a biggie because you’ve been doing this so long, if you can’t come to Deshaun’s, or Emily’s, or Hector’s neighborhoods, can you please not go to any. Because when they see you go other places, but not where they live, it hurts them, and I know you are too nice to want that to happen.

With Love;
Christine

 

Harsh? Maybe, but I want you all to think a little. I know most of the people I will link to this are decent people. I understand that for many the first reaction will be “Oh look, Christine is tilting at windmills again.” It’s true, I do that. There are so very many to charge at, and someone has to do it. I know you may believe that I am raining on your Christmas Parade. It is, after all, just a bit of harmless fun.

 

I would not send this to you, however, if I did not think you were smart enough, strong enough and more importantly decent enough to do the introspection I ask of you. I would not bother if I thought you were all so calloused that you were incapable of thinking about the harm this tradition has done to millions of poor children, especially children of color.

 

There are so many excellent traditions around our holiday seasons to draw on. If the buying of gifts for your children is so important, do it as mom and dad, not as some mythical creature who only gives to good boys and girls, therefor reinforcing the notion that the poor are undeserving. Sure giving this up means losing a little of the fun for you, and maybe your kids, but your kids will still have fun, you will still have a nice enough life, and little DeShaun, Emily, and Hector, will not be left wondering whether it is worth their while to try to be good.

 

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6 thoughts on “Occupy This: A Letter To Santa

  1. I am not a Christian, but Santa is very important in our Pagan household. To us he represents the light in the middle of the bleakest of season. He isn’t “just” presents. He actually is a representative of many male gods in our polytheistic spirituality. His gifts to our children are not given to them because they are “good” but because in the darkest days of the year feast and gift exchanges bring reprieve from the darkest days of winter.

    Gift giving from Santa at Christmas/Solstice in our household is more of a teaching experience than anything. My children are learning and being taught gratitude and humble graciousness. They are learning that gifts, even from Santa, can be recycled, homemade, nature based or used. Santa in our home, NEVER has been used as a bad/good poor/rich lesson. We would never do that.

    We buys gifts for our children in Santa’s name, and I make no apologies for that. To us that is akin to offering cakes and ale to the goddess, because to bless a child with a gift (material goods or gifts of celebration and feasting) is to bless our whole household. As the kids they have also channeled (I don’t use that term lightly) the spirit of Santa. No, not the spirit of Christmas or Jesus, but Santa–a giver of gifts with no expectations in return. The distinction between gifts from Santa and gifts from parents is extremely important in our home. My kids know how to thank mom and dad and accept gifts from us, but gifts from Santa help them learn how to offer humble thanks to the unseen force of the world, i.e. the goddess or god or divine or flow–however one defines it.

    Throwing out a general “get rid of Santa” is problematic in that it assumes that ALL people who bring Santa into their homes are by default gift-grubbing rich white Christian people who use Santa a threat/bribe.

    This couldn’t be further from the truth in our case.

  2. Christine;

    That is awesome! I am glad you guys take that approach to Santa in your home. Unfortunately that is not the larger cultural perception of Santa. My desire is not to rid the world of Santa, but to get people to think about whether or not they need Santa in their household, and if they do, what form he should take. The narrative as it is presented to larger society creates the problems that I suggest above and that narrative needs to change. If everyone treated Santa as your household does, the world would be a much better place.

    • I totally know what you are saying now, especially after re-reading again. Santa is not bad. Gifts aren’t bad. It’s how we view these ideas, thoughts, and traditions. Do we blindly move with them ignoring the consequences and implications? OR do we reinvent, investigate,and ask the hard questions? There is a place for Santa in our culture, but we have to have the courage to understand how Santa fits into the winder picture. Rejecting Santa outright or accepting the Santa myth blindly are both problematic reactions. Thanks for getting everyone thinking!

  3. If it is such a problem then why don’t you donate toys to these children yourself or raise money to do so??? The problem today is there is too much talk and not enough action!!! Don’t complain about something,DO something about it!! Santa is just an “idea” a thought of good will, a hope. Making him real inspiration is our job as adults!

    • There are already toy shelves. People still fall through the cracks. If you read my response to the other Christine, it is not about Santa, it is about the narrative surrounding him. Ideas matter, ideas influence how people view themselves or others, whether it is Santa not coming to poor kids houses, slut shaming, or racial profiling. Ideas have real world consequences.
      By all means, give to charity, I do when I can, that does not mean we stop thinking about how our traditions affect others.

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