Ugh. This is hard. This is about ... fundamental beliefs. Which are different for everyone. Which ... I don't really even know what mine are, really. Which ... this is going to make my mother pray for my soul more fervently than she already has to.
Do I teach my daughter to believe in Santa?
Of course a post like this has to start with me recounting how I found out there was no Santa. I was in the backseat of a Gremlin with two other kids of close family friends, on our way home from Santa Claus Land (now Holiday World, still in Santa Claus, Indiana) in the middle of July. It was hot as hell, the boys were terrorizing me with the little plastic snakes that look (and move) like they are real, and it was really freaking hot. And I was stuck in the backseat. With boys.
Who then thought it would be fun, since they were bored with the snakes, to terrorize me by telling me that Santa Claus doesn't even exist. I looked to the front seat, to my mother, to correct them, and she gave some noncommittal bullshit answer that sealed the fate in my heart.
Santa Claus doesn't exist. He's pretend, he's made up.
I always wondered why Santa didn't wrap the presents he left at my house, but he wrapped the presents he left at my grandparents house. And why make two stops, anyway, why not just leave it all at my house to begin with? And some of my friends had presents under their tree that said 'From Santa' weeks in advance - is that how he did it? He spread it out over time instead of doing it all on one night?
I remember feeling devastated. I remember wondering what else my parents were lying to me about. I remember feeling ... sortof ... abandoned. I was a pretty dramatic kid, after all. (Was?)
I'm not sure at what point I started questioning if God exists. It's not related to the Santa thing. Except ... is it?
I believe that there is much in the universe that we don't understand, and we can call them miracles.
I believe in energies and synchronicities and love, and I believe these are all traits of God.
My heart wants to believe in God. My brain? Not so much.
But yet, I pray. Daily, nightly, please, thank you.
We don't go to church. Mostly because I hold onto the past and get homesick and then nothing in the present is good enough. I belonged to a church where I used to live, where my baby was baptised, that I loved. But I moved. Back home. The church where I grew up ... is different now. Different pastor, some different people, it feels different.
I want to take my daughter to church. Not to someplace where she can play while I worship. I want her to be "in church". Which, given our nap schedule, means find a church with alternative worship schedules. Which basically means ... outside my denomination.
So I basically get to decide what I want to be now. Do I want to be Episcopalian? Do I want to attend the Church of Christ? Do I want to be unitarian? I want to go someplace where they love gay people, and single mothers by choice, and everyone else who walks through the door. I want to go someplace where there is love and laughter and open arms and stuff for kids and stuff for grownups.
But not too many expectations. Because I have a full-time job, a household, and a toddler that I manage as a single mama, so I can't volunteer for too much or come to this-and-that right now. If I get us dressed and to church on time a couple of Sundays a month that will be a good record for us.
By this time next year, I will have to make the Santa decision. Am I teaching her that different families believe different things, and some families believe that a big fat man comes down the chimney in the middle of a certain night and eats their food and leaves presents and flies on a sleigh with reindeer? And ours doesn't?
Because I'm not sure I can handle those big round eyes looking at me, saying 'Mama, please tell those boys they are wrong, please tell those boys there is a Santa?"
One morning at church I realized that God IS there. God is in all those people loving and hugging and welcoming. God is in the exchange of energy between those people. Isn't that what Santa is too? So if I teach her to believe in God, don't I have to teach her to believe in Santa? But if Santa isn't real, then is God?
Last year I put out the key. I bought a magic, golden key. Because, you know, some people don't have chimneys. They live in apartments, or houses without a chimney. And how does Santa get in? You leave him a key. It came in a gold organza pouch, and it has a red satin ribbon and a bell. And a poem, about how Santa will use the key to come in and leave your presents.
From the blogosphere: MyBrownBaby won't let my kid play at her house if I don't teach her to believe in Santa. I haven't read DaMomma's post, because I know it will make me weepy.
I can do "the magic of the season". Once finals are over, that is. I'm just not sure I can play along with Santa.