I’m not the sort of person who gets excited in regard to Christmas. For the most part I find it to be an overly-commercialized, obnoxious, hackneyed holiday. Though, I wasn’t always the sardonic husk of a human that you read before you. I was at one time an idealistic, towheaded youngster who greatly looked forward to Santa’s annual Christmas Eve visit to my parent’s quaint family farm.
Thinking back, I now realize that parents go through quite a bit of work to fool their gullible kids so that they can feel intellectually superior to them. For instance, as a child, how was I not to believe that Santa visited me when there would be a single bite taken from a Christmas cookie (a bit wasteful if you ask me, but whatever), a sip of milk, and a bite out of a carrot from Rudolf, etc. If memory serves I think one year my mother actually knocked snow off of her boots by the back door. She was practically as clever as the guy who tossed on fake feet and left Bigfoot tracks in Montana.
If I were a parent I wouldn’t stop there. I would be pulling my eager kids around the living room saying, “Look, look at the couch indentation, kids! Santa sat down on our couch. Let’s see what he was watching on the television. Look at that! Santa likes Spike TV. Hmm, I guess I thought better of him. Whoa! What’s that smell? I think Santa used our bathroom. Sheesh, the man’s disgusting… didn’t even bother to flush, kids. Wait, oh God, where’s Grandma’s silverware? Oh no! My Rolex! Santa took Daddy’s Rolex! Wait, shush…do you hear the ceiling creak? Santa’s still in the house!”
Everyone remembers when they had their world turned upside down by being informed there was no Santa. For me it was Christmas Eve 1990. I was at the tender age of eight and giddy about Santa’s arrival. I made the mistake of sharing my excitement with my sister Claire who is two years older than me. As I was mid-gush about the visit from Old Saint Nick, she said to me, “You know there’s no Santa, right? It’s Mom and Dad.”
I was stupefied. I hadn’t even considered the notion that Santa didn’t exist. And I felt a bit silly because she delivered the information to me in such an offhanded, flippant way. By the way, how was eight-year-old me supposed to answer the question, you know there’s no Santa, right?
“Ugh yea, of course I do! I’m just really messed up on brandy-nog.”
Regardless, the revelation managed to douse my great expectations and sent my mind reeling. I felt like the interrogation detective in The Usual Suspects—my head spinning, my eyes darting around the room looking at figurines of Santa Claus and Rudolf. My brain putting the pieces of the puzzle together, like the ruse that involved all us kids being herded down to the barn on Christmas Eve to help Dad with chores while Mom conveniently hung back to finish baking bread or cinnamon rolls. It all added up. I felt cheapened. They played me like a hobo’s harmonica.
To be fair I was eight years old (one month from nine). No kid should be double digits and still believe in Santa. In hindsight my sister did me a favor by dropping some knowledge on me. Though, I think she could have exercised a bit of tact and waited a day or two after Christmas to break the news. It’s akin to an atheist telling a grieving family member at a funeral, “You know there’s no God right? Click Like a light switch, it’s over. Say, don’t cry. Take comfort in the fact that one day you’ll join your child in absolute oblivion…an eternal void of nothingness…am I helping in any way?”
Nobody remembers when they figured out the lies surrounding the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny because nobody cares about the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny. Let’s see, a miniature pixie with a fetish for children’s teeth leaves a quarter under the sleeping child’s pillow in exchange for the tooth to do God knows what with. Was there supposed to be like a fairy castle constructed of kiddy teeth? Yikes. Or, did the tooth fairy simply dissolve all the teeth in large vats of Coca Cola? The entire premise is pretty stupid.
And as for the Easter Bunny, that concept is specious and nonsensical from the very outset. What does a giant, humanoid rabbit who hides painted chicken eggs have to do with the resurrection of a Christian martyr? It’s as if the notion of the Easter Bunny was pulled from John Lennon’s acid-induced opus “I Am the Walrus”.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
I am the bunny, goo goo g’joob.
It’s a wonder why there aren’t generations of jaded kids walking through life with trust issues since they’ve been spoon-fed lies for the first handful of years of life. But, like many abuse survivors, those kids grow up and reenact the abuse that was done to them by filling their own children’s heads with lies. Perhaps having our belief system shattered at such young age is what makes some of us incredulous as adults. I imagine that Michael Shermer was a kid that LOVED Christmas and was crestfallen after someone pulled the rug from beneath his feet. That is why Mr. Shermer spends his adulthood with a chip on his shoulder, having distain for happier people with deep-rooted faith, while he instead chooses to steep himself in boring evidence and proven facts.
So this year why not suspend your disbelief by getting blotto to the point where you actually believe an obese man is going to break into your home and leave you a present with no strings attached. And if by chance a large bearded man actually breaks into your home on Christmas Eve, you’d best keep drinking because you’re not going to want to remember what happens in the morning.