This year, I am hearing heartfelt requests for parents to make presents from Santa Claus small and insignificant compared to the presents that come from family and friends.
The idea is that
if when the question is asked at school, “What did Santa bring you?” brings answers in the $1-10 range, fewer kids will have their noses rubbed into the idea that another powerful white man (Santa) always favors the rich and prosperous…
Okay, I hear you gasp, but the uncomfortable thing about privilege it that it sneaks into even the most cherished innocent traditions.
Me, I love Christmas, the whole idea of opening your heart to the bigger consciousness of humankind, of sharing opportunities and best wishes with friends and strangers alike, and especially giving fullsomely and with a glad heart to those in need. And I do those things, in little and big ways, but always in the traditions I grew up with as if those alone express my Christmas wishes.
One of those traditions is to spoil the children, showering them with toys and goodies far beyond their birthday hauls. My family uses Christmas time for embracing the possibility of magic, with a jolly old elf who delivers fabulous presents to well-behaved little children. The kids in my family have been encouraged to believe in Santa and have received some of their best presents from him over the years. But I never once thought of how that might make another child feel. Imagine:
“Hi, Chris! Merry Christmas! Santa brought me a *Sophisticated Sports Equipment*! He gave my brother the *Hottest New Game System*! What’d he bring you?”
“Hey, Crys. Santa brought us toys, too!” Pause. “I got a puzzle and my sister got a book, so we can share.”
As the kids go on to tell each other about the rest of their presents, inescapable comparisons are made in not only their number but their desirability. Chris feels hurt and wounded, wondering why Santa didn’t treat her family as well as her friends.
“Hi Chris! Merry Christmas! Santa brought me a yo-yo with a book to show how you do tricks! He gave my brother a big pack of crayons and some coloring books!”
“Hey Crys! My mom says thanks for the cookies! Santa brought us toys, too, action figures and legos! And books to read.
“Aw, cool. What books?” The kids will share their stories and toys together. (Okay, that might be a Pollyannish reach, but what’s to stop ’em?)
Soon enough, the children of America will discover how many in power want to reward the wealthy at the cost of the dwindling middle-class and systemic poor.