Ah, the time of year for lies, greed, self-importance, and gross consumerism. Now before you jump on the "Aaaa! Liberals! War on Christmas!" bandwagon, please hear me out and wait for the end. I actually more or less support the holiday. I just find it annoying.
I'm being lazy and drove to work instead of biking this morning and so I listened to the radio on the way. Between the obnoxious diamond industry ads (which are a long rant unto themselves) and the obnoxious car ads (another good rant) there was an obnoxious Duracell ad.
Did you know a certain gentleman at the North Pole uses Duracell for all those toys he has to deliver on Christmas Eve
I admit I was taken aback by this claim. Now of course, they never say Santa Claus but given that the North Pole is in the middle of an ocean and no one actually lives there, let alone flies around giving toys on Christmas Eve, it's fair to say that most people are going to fill in this particular fictional character. That's like saying Jesus's last supper was at McDonalds or something.
What a claim! He uses these batteries in all the toys! HEY KIDS, IF YOUR TOYS HAVE ANY OTHER BRAND OF BATTERIES, THEY DIDN'T COME FROM SANTA!
Okay, sure, Santa Claus is a marketing construct that's been used to pimp merchandise for the past hundred and fifty years. That's the beauty of a fake celebrity. You can claim anything you want about them and he'll never file suit against you.
That brings me to the second part of this rant. I've never really understood why parents feel compelled to lie to children every year. *Children are greedy self-serving little creatures.
So why do parents go along with a lie to kids that is basically, "Magic will give you everything your selfish little heart desires!" It makes all kinds of sense for the corporations selling stuff, of course. Parents are so desperate to keep the secret that they drive themselves into debt every year to shower their children in cheap crap that the child will probably be bored of after a few days.
I suppose the other half of it is the selfishness on the part of the adults. In the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas (US biased commentary) they can pretend they're decent people and drop a 50cent can of beets into the bin at the grocery store to make up for a year of looking the other way when near homeless people and cutting in queues and running traffic lights and so on. Of course, they'll do more of those other things since traffic is bad and they have to be FIRST to get this year's MUST HAVE items.
However, it's all so they can pretend they're selfless by giving the kids a GREAT Christmas with Santa's name on every package, and mom and dad's name on every bill, quietly taking one for the spirit of the holiday.
Seriously parents... Think back to when you were a kid. Was christmas EVER fun, or was it an over-hyped day where you were disappointed you didn't get a solid gold pony with a jet engine and lasers and then you had to put on a monkey show for your relatives. Christmas is all about ego for adults. **LOOK WHAT OGG MAKE! LOOK WHAT OGG CAN BUY! OGG GREAT! OGG POWERFUL! OGG MAKE MORE OGGS! OGG LIVE FOREVER!!! It's really all about ego for the adults involved. Of course, on the child end of things, I don't know what is good. Certainly there is a difference between gifts and rewards and not everything should be rewards. I'm not even going to pretend to know what's best for children. I just dislike the lies people tell themselves at Christmas time.
I said at the beginning that I was generally in favor of Christmas and I should tie up that claim. Of course, like most christmas promises, it probably wasn't quite what you were expecting and the air of goodwill may ring a little hollow in the ears of others but... Tis the season. So yes. I like Christmas. I like the magical thinking and particularly I like the lie of the fat man, that's fed to kids year after year. I like that he's a symbol of consumerism and greed and that children are used as pawns for corporations to make a quick buck. I like it all, not for the crowds or the artificial good-will or some glowing memory.
I like it BECAUSE it's fake. I like it because it's all transparent crap and eventually EVERY child wakes up to a morning where they realize there is no Santa Claus. The great thing about this isn't death of innocence, but rather the beginning of questioning. When you learn Santa isn't real, it gets those little wheels turning. If Santa isn't real, what about the Easter Bunny? Or God? It's most fortuitous that christians co-opted old weird pagan holidays and greeting-card companies then took those icons out of context to ridiculous levels. It makes discovery of fake-magic so much more timely with regard to considering religion in the same vein. I owe the fat man much.
Without the help of Santa, Peter Cottontail, and the tooth fairy, I might never have escaped the ignorant, hateful, and self-destructive religious beliefs of my mother. Thanks, Santa. In the end, you gave me the best gift anyone has ever given me. You gave me doubt and made me think for myself. You took away magic but you gave me the entire universe on my own terms and taught me to believe in myself. You gave me the power to make my own dreams and made me who I am today. *No, I don't hate kids. ALL animals are greedy and self-serving. We humans just learn to try and be better than our base desires and kids generally haven't quite got the hang of it.
**Shamelessly stolen from Nina Paley! http://www.ninapaley.com/Flash2000/PaternalInstinct.swf