12/22/08

The big guy with all the magical power

I think one of the coolest, and one of the scariest, parts of being a parent is that you get to decide what this little person learns about the world.  When Zoe was first learning to speak, I was freaked out that I could just tell her that a cup was called a "napkin" and a dog was called a "goojimiwhatsit" and she would be effed, for a little while at least.  The power was stunning.

We tell our children, in clear and subtle ways, what to believe.  What stories are "true".  How the world works and why.   Our children will, of course, grow up to learn, or make up, their own truths and reject a little/some/most/entirely ALL of ours but what we say still forms the basis for their understanding of the universe.  And that means that I want to carefully consider the stories and "truths" we tell our daughter.

Can you tell we're still over-thinking the whole Santa thing?

Christmas is challenging for those of us who do not subscribe to organized Christianity.  What is it supposed to be about if not the baby who was sent here to save us all or teach us about our sins or, um,  whatever?  We want it to be about family and ritual and tradition; feasting and giving and lights; nature and remembrance and warming yourself by a fire as Bing Crosby sings about exotic things like chestnuts and sleighs and red-nosed reindeer.   Is that too diffuse?  Not "deep" enough?  Should we just switch to a pagan solstice holiday festival and call it a day?  (Festivus anyone?)

I'm slowly beginning to realize that some of these family traditions need to evolve organically and we shouldn't force them into creation all at once.  They don't have to be set in stone and they don't have to be completely thought out perfectly.  

I think Santa will be coming to my in-laws' house this year.  And filling Zoe's stocking.  But the big gifts will be from us.  And we're not going to overdo the Santa mythology;  we still have to decide whether to leave some cookies and milk out for him.  And whether to eat them/put them back in the cookie vat.   Just how far we will go with the story remains to be seen.

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Updates:  

My dad's first tests are today.  Just because I'm not a pray-er doesn't mean you can't, if that's your bag.  (Thanks.)

We survived our trip here to Arizona, sans DVDs.  Don't ask me why we're holding out at this point.  I'm not expecting a medal or martyring myself for any deeper cause.  I'm pretty sure we're going to think we were stupid for waiting this long when we finally show her some TV and she doesn't turn into a (somehow simultaneously) hyperactive spaz and drooling imbecile.  It was enlightening, heartening even, to realize that we could make an 8 and half hour trip with a two and half year old without TV and be just fine.  We read books.  We sang songs.  She played with her felt board and her Little People and talked to her "babies".  She ate and slept and only melted down once (at the very end, when we ALL were melting down.  She kept whining "My bottom hurts" and we assumed there was a rash in her pull up that needed attending to and we wanted to wait until we got to the house which was only 15 minutes away to search for the diaper cream that was buried the back of the car.  It turned out to be a wedgie.  And yet another truth was told from up on high;  wedgies SUCK.)  We didn't need DVDs and it's nice to know that.  But we will, at some point, want them.  And I know we will all be just fine.

2 comments:

My Buddy Mimi said...

We decided to move Christmas present opening from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day this year. It seems like this monumental change since both of us grew up with presents on Christmas Eve. But yes, I have the POWER to move present opening to New Years Eve, if I choose to. I'll try not to let it go to my head.

Kathi McCracken Dente said...

I am fascinated by the Santa debate. Until very recently I didn't realize there was a debate. I am a believer. I like the idea of a world with gnomes and fairies and Santa Claus. I didn't realize he was up for discussion until a friend of mine's almost 3 year old came up to me at an xmas event and said, "Ya know, Santa is just a man in a costume". I was floored. I guess I am old school... Though I may change my mind when Santa gets all the credit for the stuff under the tree this year...

I am not a prayer either by my thoughts are with your family.

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