First, adults spend a lot of time and money putting together Christmas for their children. Braving the crowds, waiting in lines, finding and then returning and then re-finding the perfect gift (when your kids KEEP CHANGING THEIR MINDS NO YOU CANNOT DECIDE YOU WANT SOMETHING ELSE THE CUTOFF WAS DECEMBER TENTH SO YOU CAN JUST DEAL WITH IT) (ahem). No matter what budget you set there's always one more thing that needs to happen (candy for the stocking! the last minute idea you had that really would make everything perfect! ornament craft kits because it will not stop freaking raining and everyone is home from school and you can't go anywhere and oh my gosh we are all going to go insane HERE MAKE AN ORNAMENT KIDS), and those one-more-things always cost money.
Now, I'm not complaining. I love Christmas shopping, and finding just the right thing, knowing my kids are going to have that one magical day where they are ridiculously spoiled but it's okay because amidst this pile of Transformers and Pokemon and Pillow Pets we're thinking about Jesus (okay, yeah, that part maybe doesn't work so well, either, but we do try). I think it's fun.
So why, after all of my time and thought and effort and money, should some anonymous old man in a red suit get all of the credit?
No, SERIOUSLY. WHY.
We do things a little differently around here. My kids love the idea of Santa Claus, and write heart-breakingly adorable letters to him. And Santa Claus reads those letters and brings them one--ONE--present they asked for. I'm okay with a little magic. But the rest? That's from Daddy and me. Because a little magic goes a long way, but knowing who really loves you (hint: It is not a man who rides around the sky on reindeer one night a year and then disappears the rest of the year) is its own kind of magic.
My second quarrel is this: Santa Claus as a dirty old creeper. And I'm going to apologize right now, but seriously? Hey, kids, go sit on that strange man's lap and tell him secrets! And then he's going to come in the middle of the night and sneak around our house! But in the meantime, HE IS ALWAYS WATCHING YOU SO YOU BETTER BE GOOD.
Now, if Santa Claus were eternally youthful and sparkled like diamonds in the sunlight, maybe that would be sexy and spawn a series of mega bestselling novels. But he doesn't even have bronze colored hair.
I may, however, be a little warped because when I was little Santa Claus would always load our stockings with (in addition to treats and small presents) underwear.
That's right: Santa Claus gave us underwear.
I don't know how or why this started. Granted, with four girls right in a row most of the bums were around the same size, and it was probably easy to just grab a few packs of underwear to be split among them while out shopping anyway, but seriously: Santa Claus gave us underwear. (And he didn't even give us our own packs--no, he opened them and divided the pairs among the stockings. Except in my only brother's case. He always got his own. Total favoritism.)
It wasn't until we were older that it hit us how strange that was, but at that point we all knew the truth (which is that Santa Claus is not an eternally beautiful vampire, of course) and it was more a joke than anything. But still. Underwear. Weird, right? (Sorry, Mom and Dad. IT'S WEIRD.)
Finally, I hate the whole Big Brother aspect of it, and the notion that kids should only be good because they are being watched and it will earn them presents. Shouldn't they try to be good anyway, without the promise of rewards or the threat of disappointment? (Which, let's face it, young parents in that restaurant: are you REALLY not going to give your two-year-old any presents if he doesn't sit down and eat right now? Really? Because I don't think that's a threat you're willing to follow through on.) I don't know about you or your kids, but mine always tend to get stressed out. Last year by Christmas Eve my son was screaming, "I DON'T WANT CHRISTMAS. I WANT CHRISTMAS TO BE OVER." After a month solid of anticipation, it all just melts into stress and anxiety. And being told you have to be good? That kind of makes me want to go in the opposite direction. You're watching me all the time? WELL WATCH THIS! (No, I have no idea where my son got his contrary nature from.)
So, to sum up: I hate giving credit to an imaginary person who has characteristics that are either vaguely creepy or seriously romantic depending on your feelings about vampires/old men. I also worry that when magic turns into blackmail it tends to lose its wonder. If you want Santa to be a part of childhood, let Santa be a mythical figure that represents the good and fun and joy of this time of year--but don't let him be the entirety of Christmas.
And for heaven's sake, don't let him give your children underwear.
(Also, Merry Christmas!)