Sunday, December 28, 2008

Miracle on 34th Street - or Merry Xmas

I've been gone a while, I apologize to anyone who may have missed me. I've had a number of major life changes in the last few months, and I had a hard time deciding how to write about them. So I didn't.

But it's the holiday, and I'm finding I have a little extra time in between cooking extravagant meals, and playing with my now near three year-old son. (Wow, he's nearly three already?!?) I recently watched Miracle on 34th Street for the first time in my life. I saw it with my wife's family over the Thanksgiving holiday. For anyone who hasn't seen it, it's the story of a crazy old man who claims he's Santa Claus. Hijinks ensue.

It's an appalling movie. It demonizes people who point out the obvious (this old dude is insane) and over and over it paints a gauzy, pretty picture of people who just "believe". Why do we as a society place a value on people believing things that are demonstrably untrue? Why do we think it's cute to lie to our children, and tell them that a creepy old fat man broke into our houses on Christmas Eve, and left presents under the tree ready for the morning? Why do we go to lengths to prevent them from discovering the inevitable truth? I could barely sit still during Miracle on 34 Street, as they heroically show the conversion of a woman who's a realist into a woman who breaks down and cries that she believes, she believes, she believes.

My son recently asked me where Santa is. His teachers at school and the other children talk to him about Santa. (And I read him The Night Before Christmas every Christmas Eve - I also read him The Cat in the Hat and Deep in the Swamp - I don't tell him that any of them are anything more than stories). Now we have a dilemma. How do we tell him the truth, without turning him into the villain-kid at his daycare. The one who runs around telling the other kids that Santa doesn't exist. The one who gets demonized. The one who gets beat up.

At the moment, we're handling it like we handle all the other imaginary questions. When he asks us where Bob the Builder is, we ask him. He's often in the closet, so we pretend with him that Bob the Builder is in the closet. On Christmas, he pretended that he was Santa, so we played along. And when he asks us where Santa is, we either ask him where he is, or we point to our beat up old copy of "The Night Before Christmas". That'll do for now.



Sergio said...

And when he asks us where Santa is, we either ask him where he is, or we point to our beat up old copy of "The Night Before Christmas". That'll do for now.


I've often noted that the realists, or skeptics, are usually placed in a not so comfortable light in many movies.

But then I remember the movie based on Stephen King's The Mist, in which the kooks were some religious fanatics. It makes me feel better somehow.

Laurie said...

Isn't it about time for that poor
Bob the Builder to come out of the closet??

I don't think I've ever seen Miracle on 34th Street. That one with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed is bad enough. Now Scrooge with Albert Finney on the other hand...

lockers said...

It's a tough call. I have been telling my daughter that elves don't exist. She sorted out that santa is an "elf" and I asked her what that meant. Lately the tooth fairy is her current source of disbelief with me. My position is even more touchy do to a divorce where her mother wants to spoil her with lies. Personally, I retain my integrity as opposed to trying to save her from peer pressure... and in my case a nasty phone call from my ex-wife.

Anonymous said...

You raise an interesting dilemma. My wife wants our children to have normal lives, with stories of the tooth fairy, Santa Clause, and Leprechauns. I don't reject the mythology out of hand, but it's hard for me to tell the stories with a straight face.

Personally, I think that we tell our children these stories to give them some sort of magic that transcends the cruelty and harshness of the real world.

Nobody like to hear that they and their children, and their grandchild's children are getting screwed out of their birthright, a free democratic Republic. However, that's what's going on in the world today. If it helps them to deal with what should be a existential crisis by believing in the hope of becoming an American Idol, then fine; believe whatever makes them happy.

Lollipops will grow in the lawn tomorrow, and Obama and the Federal Reserve will make Citibank solvent, by throwing enough money at it.

The science of reality will be solved by the FDA declaring something inane like, "Mercury is OK in small doses", as they recently did with in mercury in fish.

Government will repeal all the natural laws, of nature and human nature. It's up to us to re-write our stories so that we can sleep with ourselves at night.

[Yes, I have been drinking. But, what's the adage, 'A drunk man's ranting is a sober man's thoughts'?]

- Anonymous Coward