Re: Santa's white, fake, etc.

1

Nia insisted she didn't believe last year (at 6) but then woke up Xmas morning sure she'd heard sleigh bells and seen something out the window, so she and Mara (then 5) were both sure Santa had dropped by. That was not the change I'd expected, but we've talked about Antalya province and how Santa really would have had brown skin though lighter than theirs but people with white skin like to imagine someone who looks like themselves. I haven't asked who believes what this year.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 4:00 PM
horizontal rule
2

I don't remember ever thinking people really believed in Santa. Or the bunny, fairy, etc.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 4:00 PM
horizontal rule
3

I don't remember ever thinking people really believed in Santa. Or the bunny, fairy, etc.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 4:00 PM
horizontal rule
4

I don't remember ever thinking people really believed in Santa. Or the bunny, fairy, etc.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 4:01 PM
horizontal rule
5

I don't remember ever thinking people really believed in Santa. Or the bunny, fairy, etc.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 4:01 PM
horizontal rule
6

I figured it out when I was 5, but my oldest (9) doesn't seem to have a clue. She's either much less guileless than she seems, or that drop on the head when she was an infant had more of an effect than I dreamed.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 4:09 PM
horizontal rule
7

My Dad was constantly making up the most absurd stories about stuff so my bullshit detector got calibrated pretty early on. I was perfectly happy to play Let's Pretend about Santa, but I don't recall ever being under the illusion he was real. Plus my parents were pretty religious and didn't want the Christmas message polluted with too much gimme gimme gimme, so the whole presents thing was downplayed to a considerable degree.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 4:10 PM
horizontal rule
8

Ned was extremely unconvinced.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 4:11 PM
horizontal rule
9

I wasn't raised with Santa, but it was a shock when all the kids in my Catholic kindergarten got St. Nicholas day gifts and I didn't. I think he showed up a day late or something and my parents insisted on making us put out shoes so that we were doing it more legitly than the people who'd actually celebrated their whole lives. He does leave gifts for our girls for similar local-culture reasons, but only on the kitchen table because we had a child who was afraid of anyone (supernatural or otherwise) who'd break into our house and so everyone but the tooth fairy has to stay downstairs.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 4:17 PM
horizontal rule
10

I don't remember any sudden realization, I know I knew early on.

I have a related story, though. In [country] Santa drops by in person to deliver the presents, and one time I said matter-of-factly to my mom "Huh, Santa had the same shoes as grandpa."


Posted by: David the Unfogged Commenter | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 4:19 PM
horizontal rule
11

It would never have occurred to me to try to make my kids believe in a literal Santa Claus. But turns out my wife is 100% into it. I dread the day when the 6-year-old starts to ask direct questions about this, because I'll be in trouble if I give the game away, but I'm very uncomfortable flat-out lying to my kids. The world is complicated enough for them to figure out without telling them false things about it! So far I've gotten away with vague mumblings.

Plus Santa Claus is so damn goyish.


Posted by: freight train | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 4:34 PM
horizontal rule
12

We've been raising our kid sans-Santa, but one year he tried to pretty hard to convince us Santa was real. We were all, "sorry little dude, not buying it."


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 4:42 PM
horizontal rule
13

Bubble glue?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 4:48 PM
horizontal rule
14

We did "Santa is a fun character! Let's pretend about him!" from day one and it worked pretty well. Now each of us takes turns pretending to be Santa and fill someone else's stocking on Xmas Eve.

The only awkward bit has been explaining that some of her classmates might not understand that Santa is pretend.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 4:54 PM
horizontal rule
15

My parents avoided all the awkward conversations. They just waited until I was 10 or so and said "you know there's no Santa, right?" Similarly, "you know about sex, right?"


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 4:55 PM
horizontal rule
16

9 -- wait what? Was your Catholic school in Holland? Do they give gifts on St Nicholas day in Kentucky for some reason? If they do does be also come down with super racist black stereotype kids who will beat you up for being naughty?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 5:01 PM
horizontal rule
17

I remember being really bemused to discover that kids at my school actually believed in Santa. But then, I was similarly surprised to find they actually bought the Jesus thing, so.


Posted by: delagar | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 5:05 PM
horizontal rule
18

I pretend to promote Santa but I kind of get the feeling that my kid is only pretending to believe in him. Knowing her she probably assumes that all adults are lying to her about Santa, and has come up with some even more implausible and insane story which she thinks is the real hidden truth.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 5:07 PM
horizontal rule
19

I don't ever remember believing in Santa, although my parents tell me I did until around school age or a bit older. My brother was openly sceptical from about 5 or 6 but I think he half believed and wasn't quite sure for at least another Christmas.

Not sure what we'll do with the baby. Presumably some sort of Santa / ježišek thing for a while.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 5:11 PM
horizontal rule
20

17: By "kids at my school," I thought you meant your current students.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 5:12 PM
horizontal rule
21

Getting all worked up because Santa is white is fucking moronic. There are in fact whole countries and cultures comprised of white people and their mythical character that's a blend of St. Nicholas and Odin is white. Craaazy


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 5:13 PM
horizontal rule
22

I'm trying to remember if realizing Santa was a myth also caused me to wonder if God was a myth. I think it did, but don't remember clearly enough. I do remember conflating the two a bit when I was really young.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 5:14 PM
horizontal rule
23

16: It's a very German area, although not recent immigrants or anything like that. Googling suggests St. Louis, Cleveland, and Milwaukee may also celebrate, though my mom is from Milwaukee and didn't do it growing up. I have no idea if many Protestant families celebrate, but some other kids at the girls' public school get gifts, so I think it's semi-secular.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 5:14 PM
horizontal rule
24

14.last -- Jane has already figured out that Santa isn't real, which is fine since neither one of us is committed to Operation Preserve Childhood Innocence Forever. The problem is this fact, like all the facts she has learned, is one that she wishes to share with all her little friends. We were having a tea party, the other kid's mother made an innocuous comment, and there was a joyous cheer of "SANTA'S NOT REAL!". Fortunately the other kid was too busy getting a sugar high off Pepperidge Farm Chessmen and didn't notice, but there haven't been requests for a followup engagement.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 5:26 PM
horizontal rule
25

My kids like the Santa thing when they were young and then figured it out just like other kids who aren't idiots.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 5:28 PM
horizontal rule
26

Hawaii taught her cousin how to accurately use Goddamnit in an exclamation, which made me cringe when we sent the cousin back to the cousin's house.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 5:29 PM
horizontal rule
27

22 is interesting. From what I remember, I was always aware that we were supposed to act and speak differently with respect to Santa's reality than to God's. Like, Santa-talk was all fun stuff that adults would smile about, but God-stuff (church and religious responsibilities) and God-talk were super serious and spooked my parents if you did it wrong. God was bigger than my parents; Santa was smaller. And the God-talk lasted all year, while any Santa-talk outside of Christmastime was pretty transparently just my mom try to get us to "be good." (Yes, so was the God-talk, but my parents didn't know that, so it took me much longer to catch on about that.)


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 5:31 PM
horizontal rule
28

23 -- cool. I had no idea St. Nicholas' day was a thing anywhere in the US.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 5:33 PM
horizontal rule
29

I had a friend who grew up in a super religious family. One Sunday at supper, after church, when he was six or so, he was asked to say grace and said, sincerely, "It's okay, you don't have to pretend for me anymore."

He got in a lot of trouble when they figured out what he meant, and he kept his doubts to himself from then on. (I'm sure I've told this story before.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 5:37 PM
horizontal rule
30

Bubble glue?

Completely unrelated, there is a very stupid show called Bubble Guppies. We have a book of one of the episodes. The Bubbly Guppies are essentially mer-everything that live underwater.

The first time we read it, Hawaii was like "Wait, why does that dog have a tail-body?" and we said he was a mermaid dog. On the next page, she was like "GODDAMNIT, THAT ONE DOES TOO!" which was pretty great.

Anyway, this stupid fucking book: the dog and one of the guppies get stuck in a tree. You're underwater. Just swim down. They get rescued by fire-fighters. They learn all about fire-fighters, and even get to use a fire hydrant, which is functional, even underwater. Of course, a fire hydrant really would work fine underwater for creating a current, but it's probably not going to put out whatever molten lava burns underwater.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 5:42 PM
horizontal rule
31

I remember being in on kindergarten (6) when I started really questioning Santa, and in first grade when my dad gave me the "Santa is the spirit of Christmas and giving, now don't ruin this for your sister" talk.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 5:53 PM
horizontal rule
32

15.last: well, yeah. It's when Santa comes in the night and gives you a baby.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 5:55 PM
horizontal rule
33

I, having been raised Jewish, have no interest in perpetuating the Santa myth, and my wife is on board with that, except we don't want our kids to be the jerks who ruin it for the other kids whose parents have a sense of whimsy and magic. But then the kids went to a party last weekend at which Santa made an appearance, and suddenly they have all kinds of questions. E came back thoughtfully pronouncing, "I think Santa is real. He was at the party. But I'm not sure."

I ended up having the following argument with J:

J: Is Santa real?
Me: Well, some people think Santa is real, and some people think it's just a fun make-believe story.
J: Right, but is Santa real?
Me: What do you think?
J: I think he's just a story.
Me: Well, there you go.
J: No, but is he real?
Me: What do you think?
J: I think he's just a story but for real is he really real?
Me: I think what matters most is what you think!
J: (fists clenched, shouting) Daddy! No! You can't just take care of me! You have to take care of everybody! You have to tell me if he's real for everybody!


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 6:09 PM
horizontal rule
34

Told my eldest two when they were 4 and 6 because the younger one went into a panic at 10p.m. on Christmas eve about intruder Santa. And really upset a few people, including I've friend who cried and told me I had destroyed all the magic in the world for my children. But she writes letters from the tooth fairies, so fuck that anyway.

And then I didn't think about it with the next two, and got a bit unsettled when kid C at 8 still seemed to very much believe. He hadn't really got the hang of making things up - if people say this will happen, obviously it will. But by the next year, 7 year old kid D was highly sceptical and he caught on.

I think the bloke in the article did cock up though - the reaction was entirely predictable. The vicar who did the local town remembrance service said that he was his son's tooth fairy and you could see frowns everywhere - a lot of youngish children there.

But I've recently read threads like "will my y7 (I.e. 11 years old) be laughed at at secondary school because he still believes in father Christmas?" which is just ridiculous.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 6:13 PM
horizontal rule
35

I think expecting other adults to participate in your conspiracy to keep children who are at school believing in a literal Santa is pretty weird, to be honest.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 6:24 PM
horizontal rule
36

I don't quite remember believing in Santa. I do remember having asked an older cousin what Santa would do if there was a fire in the fireplace, a question I'm pretty sure I posed as a kind of gotcha because I wanted him to tell me Santa wasn't real. But instead he made up a convoluted story about some special elf who accompanies Santa and goes in the house a different way first to make sure there's no fire burning in the fireplace.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 6:44 PM
horizontal rule
37

I recall thinking at a very early age that the Jewish kids were obviously smarter than the Christians because we all knew the truth about santa and they didn't.


Posted by: Unimaginative | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 6:49 PM
horizontal rule
38

How about that Elf on the Shelf shit? A friend's sister-in-law initated it with friend's four-year-old despite friend's explicit instructions not to. I would have killed a bitch.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 6:53 PM
horizontal rule
39

That fucking elf. Pokey's teacher showed up with a knock-off elf yesterday. Named Gino, she told me, which is big kitty's name. Apparently Pokey was vocal about naming the elf.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 7:07 PM
horizontal rule
40

I grew up putting my shoes out on the 6th for St Nicholas and getting presents in my stocking the 25th. FWIW I also got Hanukkah presents and my birthday was in December, so December was payday as a kid. My parents never explicitly said otherwise, but they never tried too hard to convince us Santa was real. They were mostly like, "if we were in Norway, you would be getting presents from a little troll (Julenisse), not some weird fat dude who is a bastardization of St. Nicholas." They also thought that Black Peet was super racist and let us know that from a young age.

I was all for arguing that it was strange to argue Santa wasn't white, until I watched the FOX clip. Yikes! Santa can really be any color anyone wants him to be. Or he could be a penguin. Also...Greeks and Middle Easterners...do not look the way Santa Claus and Jesus are normally pictured. Actually, maybe a compromise would be that all depictions of Jesus/St. Nick would have to be scrupulously real depictions of what people in 3rd cent. Greece and 1st cent. Palestine looked like.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 7:45 PM
horizontal rule
41

Actually, maybe a compromise would be that all depictions of Jesus/St. Nick would have to be scrupulously real depictions of what people in 3rd cent. Greece and 1st cent. Palestine looked like.

With feathers, right?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 7:56 PM
horizontal rule
42

When I was 6 I really disappointed my sister (then 14) and my mom by explaining how I didn't think Santa was real because the logistics just wouldn't make sense. They had really enjoyed playing the game of sustaining the myth.

Elf on the shelf is fucking creepy and - I'm just going to go ahead and break out the tin-foil toboggan - normalizes the surveillance state.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:02 PM
horizontal rule
43

Now I'm imagining my wacky local NSA official making a mess with the sugar.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:03 PM
horizontal rule
44

As my blood alcohol rises the idea of introducing Elf on the Shelf to other people's children is sounding increasingly funny.

I was all for arguing that it was strange to argue Santa wasn't white, until I watched the FOX clip. Yikes!

Well yeah, I'm not arguing for aligning with that nonsense. Whitening Jesus (don't fuck with the Jesus!) is of course a dumb thing to do. But Santa pretty obviously has a lot of Nordic/Northwest European influences and complaining that Santa is white sounds a lot like complaining that the Shinto gods always look so Asian.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:04 PM
horizontal rule
45

I figured it out pretty young, because all of the things that Santa gave me were things my mother wanted. (Her mentalizing capacity isn't the greatest.) I faked it for another year or two for them. Then I asked whether Santa was real, and my Dad said that he was as real as the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy. For whatever reason, the Easter Bunny had always seemed much less real, so that broke it.

My sister believed in Santa for a long time. Eventually we took over responsibility for being Santa to each other, i.e. doing stocking stuffers.
That was hard, because my parents were trying to figure out how to break it to her. She would cry when kids suggested that he wasn't real.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:05 PM
horizontal rule
46

Elf on the shelf is fucking creepy and - I'm just going to go ahead and break out the tin-foil toboggan - normalizes the surveillance state.

Yes! I went exactly there in my conversation with SIL-afflicted friend.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:07 PM
horizontal rule
47

What the fuck exactly *is* elf on the shelf? *googles* Jesus Christ I have never been happier to be Jewish.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:10 PM
horizontal rule
48

47: never fear!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:12 PM
horizontal rule
49

This morning, when I dropped off Pokey, there was another mom in the room, during the meet-the-knock-off-elf-named-Gino conversation. The other mom said, "I had to fake a phone call to Santa on the way over here!" Then the teacher said something to the kid like, "Did Mama talk to Santa when you were in the car?" and he nodded very contritely.

I don't like to knock other parents, because we're all just trying to survive till bedtime. And it's not a particularly evil parenting move. It just irked me, though.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:12 PM
horizontal rule
50

48: You forgot the most wonderful thing about Hanukkah: no one gives a fuck about Hanukkah.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:15 PM
horizontal rule
51

The Mensch on a Bench does!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:18 PM
horizontal rule
52

Benches are soooooo Jewish!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:20 PM
horizontal rule
53

16/28: we celebrate St. Nicholas' day. It's a great way to do "Santa" without having to actually do Santa.

I'm reasonably sure my wife's family did too, when the kids were young. (They don't anymore.) She grew up in Connecticut.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:21 PM
horizontal rule
54

And... shelves... so Christian?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:22 PM
horizontal rule
55

Let alone elves.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:22 PM
horizontal rule
56

I don't want Bianquette to be the kid in my second grade class who loudly announced "There's no Santa Claus." I just got out Polar Express and was a little surprised that on the first page a kid says there's no Santa. The Tooth Fairy, fine. We got a book that turned out to be about the Tooth Mouse who takes baby teeth in France, and she was all, How does a mouse take your teeth, how does the moon (in Sweden or someplace) take your teeth, so I don't know what she thinks. She happened to see a commercial for that Guardians movie that shows an older kid not believing in Santa or the Tooth Fairy too, and some other figures I haven't told her about. Her Easter baskets come from me, even if I thought there was a point to it, pretending there's an Easter bunny is more effort than I want to go to, and lots of people around here give kids Easter presents. I realized I had gone wrong on this, though: Santa's real (and like with Thorn's daughter, was not allowed in the house for a year or two), ghosts and fairies and elves are not, in France a mouse delivers money for teeth, some people believe in God and some don't, turned out to be too complicated for her.

But I'm curious what other people think of Polar Express.


Posted by: bianca steele | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:23 PM
horizontal rule
57

Where will the Christ on a Cross turn up next??????????


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:23 PM
horizontal rule
58

Dude, that's easter.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:24 PM
horizontal rule
59

Christmas is the Christ in a Crib.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:25 PM
horizontal rule
60

I hate the Elf and I haven't even asked the girls if they've heard about it from their friends or classmates because I don't want to know. We don't do gifts as a reward for behavior but just because it's a celebration day.

The girls did request new footie pajamas as a Christmas Eve gift, and I bought all those tonight. I'm sort of excited about that part.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:26 PM
horizontal rule
61
The concept of an omniscient and judgmental Santa (and his deputized elves) tracks with the evolution of American-style Christmas in the 19th century. As noted by historian Stephen Nissenbaum (in "The Battle for Christmas") and others, Christmas in our nation's early days was a lawless melee, in which the impoverished lower classes would riot if they were not appeased by booze and other treats given to them by their bosses and wealthier neighbors.
It was well-off New Yorkers of the early-to-mid-1800s who found refuge in repurposing the holiday as a family-minded, nominally religious retreat from social mayhem. The modernized morality of Dickens and other storytellers emphasized Christmas as a time to do good, to calm down, to behave. In such households, some theorize, the children assumed a role previously reserved for the town beggars: By staying out of trouble, they got a Christmas treat from a jolly old elf. Later came the songs and folklore about the 24-7 surveillance from the North Pole.

Some interesting Christmas/surveillance/discipline commentary from the WaPo review of the Elf on the Shelf TV special, via Wikipedia.

If memory serves, the second verse of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" is "Please give us some figgy pudding(x3)/or we'll piss on your cat".


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:27 PM
horizontal rule
62

I had a coworker who told her toddler that the deer in her neighborhood were reindeer spying for Santa, reporting whether the kid was going on the naughty list. She started this months in advance. After Christmas, I was feeling kind of relieved for the kid, but then the coworker shifted to telling her that the neighborhood rabbits were spying for the Easter bunny. Poor kid is gonna need therapy.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:28 PM
horizontal rule
63

I despise all Christmas traditions.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:29 PM
horizontal rule
64

Where will the Christ on a Cross turn up next??????????

Christ on a Cracker!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:30 PM
horizontal rule
65

Watch out for the Beer In The Fridge!!!!!!!!!!!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:32 PM
horizontal rule
66

Poor kid is gonna need therapy.

At least the next generation will donate to the ACLU. Or maybe they'll not see what the big deal is.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:32 PM
horizontal rule
67

Broccoli on a Fork is watching you. Better bite him in half.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:32 PM
horizontal rule
68

(I actually enjoy choosing and cutting down Christmas trees--I don't often get to saw through living things--but my wife and kids have both developed allergies to them, so that tradition is dying.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:33 PM
horizontal rule
69

Poor kid is gonna need therapy. become an avid hunter.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:35 PM
horizontal rule
70

The other mom said, "I had to fake a phone call to Santa on the way over here!"

Some parents think it's a good idea when they see a cop in the sev or wherever to tell their small child to be good or the cop will come and get them. When I was in patrol I was rather fond of telling those kids that a cop's favorite thing in life is to take people to jail for being mean to kids and then ask if their mommy/daddy had any warrants.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:39 PM
horizontal rule
71

-I don't often get to saw through living things-

I'm not sure I buy that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:40 PM
horizontal rule
72

68: Start a new tradition of bleeding the maple trees?


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:43 PM
horizontal rule
73

The realization came at an odd tempo for me. I have the memory of noticing my parents up very late one Eve, the sound of wrapping paper, and it all suddenly being clear to me - I even cried. Earlier, I also remember noticing the return letter from the North Pole being postmarked from a city where my uncle and aunt lived, and observing this to my parents, but purely as an interesting curiosity, not threatening my conceptions. I suspect I was osmotically picking up "he's not real" for some time before making the sudden realization, maybe making myself deaf to other kids saying it. Not sure what age this all was. I think it's better learned when reality is still blurry, before ideas start to be important and held long-term.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:53 PM
horizontal rule
74

I was 5 years old when I overheard my parents talking about our Christmas presents while they did some last-minute Christmas Eve gift-wrapping. I was supposed to be asleep, of course, but I was too excited to sleep because it was Christmas Eve! and Santa was coming! Up to that point, I had been a true believer, so I was a bit crushed. I didn't tell my parents that I knew, or not right away.

The next Christmas, I tried to will myself to believe, but it didn't work. From the moment I overheard my parents, I knew.

When, a year or two later, my younger sister started asking questions, I took it upon myself to reassure her that Santa Claus had to be real. "How could Mum and Dad afford to buy us all those presents?" I asked. When my parents found out, they were highly amused, but also a bit troubled by my child's eye view of the household economy.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:55 PM
horizontal rule
75

I have this whole, probably overly complicated, plan to keep telling Jane that Christmas is a time when grownups are all bustling around making secret surprises for kids and each other* and so no one can quite keep track of all of it, and it is a magical time of year, so who knows if all of it is grownups or what? So then she can imagine what she likes.

*This is also the explanation for why she is not supposed to talk about Santa not being real, so she won't spoil anyone's surprise, which is a concept we think she has a pretty good handle on.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:58 PM
horizontal rule
76

On the whitening of Jesus:

When I was about 8, I drew and coloured a picture of Jesus, with yellow (for blonde) hair and blue eyes. My dad told me I was wrong: "He wouldn't have looked like that. He was an Armenian Jew." And I guess "Armenian" was wrong (should have been Aramaic?), but in retrospect, it was an interesting point (don't make Jesus look like a northern European) for my father to have made.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 9:07 PM
horizontal rule
77

I have to admit, it's kind of nice when the kids get a new toy infusion. Everyone gets so rapt for awhile.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 9:07 PM
horizontal rule
78

Clicking through the various white-Santa-kerfuffle links, I came to a BBC article about what Jesus might have looked like, and the point of greatest relative certainty seemed to be that he would have had short hair. This had never occurred to me. (No Christian background, never spent much time thinking about Jesus, frankly, but I always assumed he looked like a hippie of some color.) They suggested that the long-haired thing may have confused "Nazarene" with "Nazarite," IIRC, a sect who abstained from wine and haircuts.

At some point in my childhood I insisted on buying a ceramic creche as a Christmas decoration, I think out of a strong preference for the interesting Jesus story over the plotless Santa stuff. My parents were cool with it, if surprised.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 9:28 PM
horizontal rule
79

normalizes the surveillance state

I used these very words to my sister-in-law, whose kids (7 and 10 question mark exclamation point) have elves on shelves. I think she thought I was just kidding.

The one issue we're having is that my almost-three-year-old accompanies his mom to church and I'm cool with that, but we haven't settled on precisely how frank I can be with him about my own lack of belief. I came downstairs the other day to find him in front of the creche, saying, "Hello, baby Jesus, how are you today?"


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 9:43 PM
horizontal rule
80

33: J: (fists clenched, shouting) Daddy! No! You can't just take care of me! You have to take care of everybody! You have to tell me if he's real for everybody!

Wow. That is one smart kid. How wonderful.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 9:46 PM
horizontal rule
81

79:

If my family is any indication time will win that for you without much effort. Mormon mom took the five kids to church all growing up while atheist dad stayed home. Only two of the five still go.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 9:57 PM
horizontal rule
82

I came downstairs the other day to find him in front of the creche, saying, "Hello, baby Jesus, how are you today?"

You heretics. You're supposed to keep the baby Jesus hidden in a drawer, and wrapped in tissue paper, until the evening of the 24th: he's not meant to show up in the creche until the night of his birth.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 10:02 PM
horizontal rule
83

As I just mentioned elsewhere, Iris (age 9.75) cornered AB last Xmas and confirmed that Santa isn't real ,but by spring was talking about the jolly old elf again, and has maintained firm commitment since. I'm sure this is tied up in a desire not to depart childhood, but the reversal is still striking.

I personally figured things out about this age*, but had no desire to make a clean break. I believe I got presents labeled "From: Santa Claus" at least through HS, if not until I had my own kids.

*I have vague visual memories of sorting it out, but I lived in one place from 6.75 through 13.75, so it's hard to know how old I was


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 10:03 PM
horizontal rule
84

I concur with 82. But it is just another damn thing to do on Xmas eve after bedtime.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 10:04 PM
horizontal rule
85

81: From two extremely Catholic parents, I'm one of three atheists and only the last child is still marginally Catholic.

Lee has asked me not to tell the girls yet that I'm an atheists, but we agreed that if they ever ask what I believe I'll tell the truth. For now it's a lot of "Some people think..." stuff and asking them what they think about various things. But I'm also the one who takes them to church and does night time prayers (bracketed with "A person who wants to pray could say, 'God bless [child]'" because I'm not sure how hypocritical to be) and I'm sure they assume I'm a Christian because of that.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 10:05 PM
horizontal rule
86

I believe I got presents labeled "From: Santa Claus" at least through HS, if not until I had my own kids.

My parents always made sure to tell the dog which of his gifts were from them and which were from Santa.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 10:06 PM
horizontal rule
87

The snoop on the stoop.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 10:08 PM
horizontal rule
88

You're supposed to keep the baby Jesus hidden

This would have been smart, because the gravest threat to the baby Jesus is being chewed by the younger kid. Every day he can reach just a bit higher...


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 10:11 PM
horizontal rule
89

F that shit - i hope my kids tell all the other kids that Santa is completely fictional. I have no desire to conspire with other parents lying to their children and I have no problem being the troublemaker parent. For me I remember putting things together when I could read the ads in the flyers advertising stocking stuffers (around age 4 or so).


Posted by: RebeccaS | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 12:13 AM
horizontal rule
90

Santa Claus may not be real, but his house certainly is. I've been there.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 12:34 AM
horizontal rule
91

Proof in Flickr pool.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 12:40 AM
horizontal rule
92

It's a great way to do "Santa" without having to actually do Santa.

I think you can achieve that at Ty's on Christopher Street, as well.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 12:48 AM
horizontal rule
93

In case people didn't click through, the best part of the story Chris Y sent is the parents complaining that they don't go into church and announce that Jesus is fictional. I can't imagine that quote making a newspaper over here, which is probably why we deserve news about white Jesus.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:54 AM
horizontal rule
94

This is a great thread. I particularly enjoyed the Mensch on the Bench, and "No! You can't just take care of me! You have to take care of everybody!" Well done that kid.

Of course Santa's white. Look at the pictures. It's asinine to say "AHA! But he's loosely based in part on someone from what's now Turkey and would therefore be swarthy!" James Bond was loosely based in part on an aristocratic chap from the Western Isles but I don't go around shouting that Daniel Craig is doing the accent wrong because JAMES BOND DOES NOT EXIST*. James Bond's accent is whatever Daniel Craig (currently) chooses to make it. Santa's skin colour is whatever various artists choose to make it.

*Just like ttaM and all other little Scots kids, I believed that James Bond existed until I was about 6 or 7. My parents used to tell me that James Bond was watching my behaviour through a small camera disguised as a pot plant, and if I was good all year then I'd get an exploding fountain pen for my birthday, but if I was bad he'd shoot me in the head with a .32 Beretta.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 2:51 AM
horizontal rule
95

My own epiphany was on January 6th at the age of five, when I woke up while my dad was swapping out the stockings. But my reaction was not "Oh God! My dreams are shattered!", more "How extremely stupid not to have thought of that!"

We went on having "stocking presents" until my parents died, but this was simply that everybody was assigned a stocking (plastic carrier bag) into which you put any small additional gifts you might have bought along the way. We had a very pragmatic approach to the holiday.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:32 AM
horizontal rule
96

re: 94

Aye.

'Now son, don't forget, have you been practising your dead-pan quips?'

'What did I tell you. You never know when you'll have to kill a man in cold blood, and without a quip?! Bond is going to be so disappointed in you. No whisky for you again this birthday.'


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:43 AM
horizontal rule
97

re: 95

Yeah, we had a big sack each. Things in the sack were marked from 'Santa' but the convention was that that was just bigger Christmas gifts, and that smaller more personally presents would be labelled specifically from Mum or Dad. I can't remember when that stopped. Before high school, I think, but long after my sister and I had stopped believing.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:44 AM
horizontal rule
98

"If you don't clean up your room, we're not taking you to Q's Grotto!"


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:51 AM
horizontal rule
99

Obvious inconsistency by your parents there - Bond uses a Walter PPK.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 4:00 AM
horizontal rule
100

re: 99

Only in the later novels. He starts out in the first half a dozen or so with other guns [Beretta, and others].

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beretta_418#The_M418_in_Fiction


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 4:11 AM
horizontal rule
101

the parents complaining that they don't go into church and announce that Jesus is fictional.

Some big box store had to put out an apology recently, because an employee at marked a Bible with a "Fiction Section" sticker.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 4:30 AM
horizontal rule
102

The Elf in The Router.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 4:46 AM
horizontal rule
103

Some big box store had to put out an apology recently, because an employee at marked a Bible with a "Fiction Section" sticker.

So they should, it belongs under "Mythology".


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 4:55 AM
horizontal rule
104

i hope my kids tell all the other kids that Santa is completely fictional. I have no desire to conspire with other parents lying to their children and I have no problem being the troublemaker parent

Hmm. Seems kind of dickish to relish in the idea of ruining something for people who enjoy it when it doesn't harm you in any way to let them enjoy it. Especially when the motivation seems to be to reinforce your self important sense of moral superiority rooted in the apparent inability to distinguish between the wonders of childhood make-believe and "lying to children."


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 5:04 AM
horizontal rule
105

"He's ruining the play! He's ruining the whole play!"


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 5:17 AM
horizontal rule
106

Sorry, but the "ruining" language is pernicious gobbledygook.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 5:18 AM
horizontal rule
107

the apparent inability to distinguish between the wonders of childhood make-believe and "lying to children."

The difference is that, at least in my experience, kids know that make-believe is make-believe already. If you have a four-year-old running round the house in a toy firefighter's helmet going "nee naw nee naw nee naw" then it will not shatter his picture of the world to take him aside and say "Lachlan, you realise, don't you, that you aren't a real fireman?" (Personal experience)

So, if Santa is just part of childhood make-believe, kids won't mind being told that actually it's your parents leaving the presents. If there are kids out there who are dreadfully upset by hearing the truth, then it's because they actually believe in Santa - in the same way that they believe in, say, the postman - and that's because their parents have been lying to them about the world.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 5:24 AM
horizontal rule
108

Here's what I find a little odd about the vicar story, as I recall, discussions of St. Nicholas and the origins of Christmas traditions, and how Santa-type figures operated in other cultures were a staple of young children's Christmas books and stories. Is that not still the case?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 5:25 AM
horizontal rule
109

So they should, it belongs under "Mythology".

Not "True Crime"?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 5:25 AM
horizontal rule
110

Like the Dan Rather National Guard story, "fake but true."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 5:27 AM
horizontal rule
111

But, ok, I agree with 104, but surely once you get to the point that the local vicar discussing various different Santa-related folkways is verboten you've got a bit carried away, no?


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 5:31 AM
horizontal rule
112

108 --- yes, of course they are still a staple, especially of well meaning sunday school activities, which is what the vicar thought he was engaged in.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 5:35 AM
horizontal rule
113

108: Nah, now it's Elves on Shelves all the way down.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 5:48 AM
horizontal rule
114

These "don't ruin Santa for the children" types are probably the same people who freak out about hearing spoilers for a tv show.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 5:51 AM
horizontal rule
115

"She doesn't get eaten by the eels at this time."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 5:56 AM
horizontal rule
116

A colleague has just noted that belief in mythical figures seems to last in inverse proportion to the size of their beards. Santa: huge beard, generally discarded age 5. God: smaller but still impressive beard, discarded age 12. Marxist-Leninism: fairly small beards, discarded age 25.

Evolution is not a counterexample: when Darwin wrote "The Origin of Species" he was sidewhiskered but beardless.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 6:02 AM
horizontal rule
117

Lear's Old Man With a Beard: No one believed that shit in the first place.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 6:06 AM
horizontal rule
118

The Elf in The Router. Machine.

We have a Christmas goat, which guards the tree from evil spirits. When I was young we also would dance around the tree singing songs. Apparently this, along with the Christmas gnome, is considered thinly disguised paganism by respectable people.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 6:07 AM
horizontal rule
119

An actual goat or a model goat? Because in my experience of goats, an actual one would be liable to eat a) the carpet b) the presents c) the decorations and d) the tree, not necessarily in that order.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 6:12 AM
horizontal rule
120

On the OP: surely it must be a joke, given this quote:

"Loads of kids went home crying - it has ruined Christmas for them. It wasn't a nice story for children to hear, there were lots more he could have told. Not only has he spoiled Father Christmas for them, a lot of them are now questioning the existence of the tooth fairy as well."

It reads just a bit too much like the Daily Mash...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 6:15 AM
horizontal rule
121

107: Accepting your premise, I still fail to grasp how deliberately upsetting other people's small children by shattering their belief is anything but a dick move. Most kids eventually figure it out without any trauma and some even remember their years of belief fondly. The little ones who are desperately upset to learn Santa is a myth tend to be at an age when they will also be desperately upset if you tell them spiderman or Dora or whoever it is kids these days are into isn't real.

Tell your own kids whatever you want. I am completely fine with kids not believing in Santa and parents not wanting to "lie" to their kids about him. I just think it's terribly self-involved to think you need to cram that approach down other families' throats by telling all the other kids Santa isn't real.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 6:16 AM
horizontal rule
122

I came to a BBC article about what Jesus might have looked like

I think I have mentioned the George MacDonald Fraser interview before in which he insisted that the conventional portrait of Jesus was wrong because he was always depicted as being very skinny: "I've been in the Middle East, I've seen the kind of muscle that Middle Eastern moneychangers employ, and if Jesus was able to march into the Temple and overturn their tables without immediately getting the shit beaten out of him, he must have been built like a prop forward."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 6:21 AM
horizontal rule
123

121: the counter to that is that deliberately deceiving your children by telling them lies, thus setting them up for a traumatic moment when one of their wee friends innocently mentions the truth, is also a dick move, and there's no moral onus on other parents to tell their children to keep quiet around kids who are thus deceived. It's not even like the truth is unpalatable for small kids and the lie is therefore justifiable; we're not in "Rex has gone to live on a farm where he can run around/ Grandpa is with the angels in heaven" territory.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 6:24 AM
horizontal rule
124

"I came here to set brother against brother and eat loaves and fishes, and I'm all out of loaves and fishes. ...oh, no, wait."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 6:25 AM
horizontal rule
125

IIRC, that last BBC 'what Jesus looked like' thing, they had him looking (funnily enough) like a heavily built, curly haired middle-eastern guy.

re: 122

Yeah, also: carpenter. Early 30s manual worker. Built like a brick shit-house.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 6:30 AM
horizontal rule
126

Also, his followers, largely fishermen and other not-fucking-about professions. I'd guess the soft-voiced-ethereal-ponce much beloved of Western religious art, not so much.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 6:31 AM
horizontal rule
127

The goat is made out of straw and about 2' high.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 6:32 AM
horizontal rule
128

114: I think it's right to tell someone about Santa, but wrong to tell them spoilers for a TV show.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 6:36 AM
horizontal rule
129

107: I grew up Jewish, so I didn't have Santa Claus to doubt, but we did have the tooth fairy. I did not understand the make-believe aspect, and I was terribly worried that my parents were lying to me.

So of course, I performed a series of experimental tests to determine whether there was in fact a tooth fairy, until I reached a decisive conclusion.

By far the most upsetting thing was that when I confronted my parents with the conclusive evidence I'd found that there was no tooth fairy, I didn't get an apology for the lies, or even an admission of falsehood.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 6:39 AM
horizontal rule
130

125. Also, as I remember, short haired.

Oh right, here it is.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 6:41 AM
horizontal rule
131

Togolosh's 7 above also rings true with me.

My Dad was constantly making up the most absurd stories about stuff so my bullshit detector got calibrated pretty early on.

This, definitely. My Dad still does this.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 6:41 AM
horizontal rule
132

When I was about 7 or so, with my kid sister, we set up an experiment to determine the existence or otherwise of Father Christmas. Specifically, we had a tape recorder running by the tree, next to the mince pie and glass of scotch and carrot for the reindeer. Even better, my grandfather made sure to record a message, although we were deeply sceptical that the real thing would speak with a strong Hertfordshire/Buckinghamshire accent (think like a stage peasant, basically).

Christmas this year is going to be weird, because the sister is spending it in New York City with intended husband, the first time she won't be present. You should totally look her up because she's awesome.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 6:55 AM
horizontal rule
133

129: Parents are supposed to apologize for giving you money for a worthless tooth?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 6:58 AM
horizontal rule
134

131: My favorite is the Calvin and Hobbes where Calvin's dad explains that old photos are black and white because the world was black and white until 1950.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 7:00 AM
horizontal rule
135

We can probably place Santa Claus somewhere in this Venn Diagram. Or maybe there needs to be another ellipse, "Childhood Bollocks."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 7:03 AM
horizontal rule
136

133: I wasn't very enterprising.

I would have gladly forgone a few bucks to be able to reasonably trust that my parents would tell me the truth.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 7:04 AM
horizontal rule
137

"Hello, baby Jesus, how are you today?"

(Falsetto, from the staircase) "My meat and bones are made of ceramic, my child, and I'm outdoors in the middle of winter. I'm cold. I'm so very cold..."

I don't know why that response would especially amuse me, but it would.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 7:10 AM
horizontal rule
138

Aside from the entertainment, I don't see how you can raise small children while strictly telling the truth. You could say, "I'll give you a dollar if you get that tooth out of your mouth just so I don't have to watch you wiggle it continually for the next day," but kids would probably resent that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 7:11 AM
horizontal rule
139

I will happily take money from anybody's parents who want to lie to me. I promise to act credulous.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 7:13 AM
horizontal rule
140

I will happily take money from anybody's parents who want to lie to me. I promise to act credulous.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 7:28 AM
horizontal rule
141

My favorite is the Calvin and Hobbes where Calvin's dad explains that old photos are black and white because the world was black and white until 1950.

"Dad, where do babies come from?"
"Well, most people order them out of the Sears catalog."
"I came from SEARS?!"
"No, you were a K-Mart special. Almost as good and a lot cheaper."
"MOOOOOM!"
"What are you telling him now, dear?"


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 7:36 AM
horizontal rule
142

I like that the BBC used old skulls and portraits to craft a guess, rather than just assume Jesus [would have] looked like modern Middle Easterners. In the link he does look like the TSA would give him special treatment, but the features aren't as specifically Arab as I've seen posited elsewhere.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 7:47 AM
horizontal rule
143

My Dad was forever making up shit (watermelons are blue until you open the, then they turn red, just like blood). I do it to, to any child who happens to be around.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 7:47 AM
horizontal rule
144

That's not something your dad made up. Cut open a watermelon in a vacuum and you'll see.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 7:54 AM
horizontal rule
145

I like making stuff up, but I'm not as good at it as my uncles. My uncles aren't as good at it as the person who told me that there is a remake of 47 Ronin starring Keanu Reeves. It's really great to see a master spin a tale that's just on the wrong side of plausible.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 7:56 AM
horizontal rule
146

"I've been in the Middle East, I've seen the kind of muscle that Middle Eastern moneychangers employ, and if Jesus was able to march into the Temple and overturn their tables without immediately getting the shit beaten out of him, he must have been built like a prop forward."

JESUSCAKE! JESUSCAKE! JEEEEEEEESUSCAKE!


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 7:59 AM
horizontal rule
147

Actual conversation from a few weeks ago: ME: "no, seriously, fairies aren't real." 6 YR OLD "Oh I know you say that but they are, and they're not going to bring YOU any presents now" ME: "What presents are you talking about [nb, fairies did not actually bring her presents]" 6 YR OLD: "they plant trees and open flowers for me all over the city" ME: "But isn't that a present for me too, since I can also see flowers? 6 YR OLD "No, you only get to see the not so good flowers. I can see all of them."

Moral of the story: All this stuff about "lying to your kids" about Santa is bullshit because kids are basically insane people who love weird implausible fantasy strangeness. At the same time, freaking out because some priest spilled the beans on the Santa story is also bullshit because kids are perfectly capable of believing in their implausible fantasy strangeness even in the face of adult denial.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 8:05 AM
horizontal rule
148

there is a remake of 47 Ronin starring Keanu Reeves.

Just as there are only twenty people in the UK (all of whom are fully employed commenting on Unfogged, appearing in Downton Abbey, or being Queen) there are only 46 men in Japan, forcing the producers of the film to look elsewhere to fill out the cast.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 8:07 AM
horizontal rule
149

I agree with 147.2.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 8:08 AM
horizontal rule
150

147.1 is cute.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 8:08 AM
horizontal rule
151

A bit spiteful, but cute.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 8:09 AM
horizontal rule
152

Then again, I'm the guy who, based on an overly literal interpretation of what my 5th grade science teacher said in class, believed through the beginning of college that sharks were effectively immortal.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 8:21 AM
horizontal rule
153

In the sense of unaging, not unkillable.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 8:22 AM
horizontal rule
154

152: That's a good one. I'm going to use it over the holidays when I see my cousins' kids.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 8:24 AM
horizontal rule
155

Sharks are like Highlander?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 8:35 AM
horizontal rule
156

Only in that they will eventually kill Sean Connery.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 8:40 AM
horizontal rule
157

Highlanders eventually kill Sean Connery, sharks eventually kill Michael Caine.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 8:45 AM
horizontal rule
158

Sharks killed Saffron Burrows, but that was sort of her own fault.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 8:47 AM
horizontal rule
159

154: You could probably find a marine science textbook to back you up on this, claiming that some sharks have been around basically unchanged for thousands of years. Although it might, unlike my science teacher, remember to specify "some species of shark," thus ruining the effect.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 8:47 AM
horizontal rule
160

You could make a similar point about roaches.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 8:50 AM
horizontal rule
161

Me: My parents were coldhearted atheists, and never told us that Santa was real -- I never thought of him as anything but fiction. (Come to think, when I was little they were still regular churchgoers, but the coldhearted atheist type. They didn't have the mutual come-to-not-Jesus moment until I was eight or so, when they realized that no one was making them attend services any more.)

My kids: Buck was raised in a Santa-friendly culture, so we did presents from family, and little things in stockings from Santa, and left out sherry and cookies for him. I think I told the story of Sally figuring it out here -- she saw one too many public Santas, asked, I hedged ambiguously, and she got it. Maybe 6 or so? The funny bit was that a little while later, she walked up to me and said "So, if Santa... then... the Easter Bunny?" And I confirmed.

I didn't see Newt figure it out. He had a fun moment of total belief when the Santa who does our building's Christmas party gave him exactly what he'd been hoping for, which might have been seven? Again, the story's in TFA somewhere. But that was certainly the last year he wasn't clued in.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:11 AM
horizontal rule
162

This was a fun thread to read.

I'm pretty sure my stepdaughter doesn't believe in Santa anymore. There were a few years that her mom and I were actively trying to convince her that Santa wasn't real, and she refused to accept this. I found this puzzling, until I thought about it a little -- in many Christmas stories, cynical people try to persuade the innocent virtuous hero not to believe in Santa, and in the end the innocent faith of the hero is vindicated. Anyway, since she pretty much lives in a cartoon world, believing in Santa isn't really a big deal.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:33 AM
horizontal rule
163

in many Christmas stories, cynical people try to persuade the innocent virtuous hero not to believe in Santa, and in the end the innocent faith of the hero is vindicated.

Alright, Virginia, if it'll make you shut up, there is a fucking Santa Claus!!!


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:52 AM
horizontal rule
164

It never occurred to me before, but "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" takes place in a Santa-less world. Or am I misremembering? Does the Grinch steal everything after Santa brought it?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 9:53 AM
horizontal rule
165

I can't recall exactly. I do remember that Cindy Lou Who asked the Grinch if he was Santa.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 10:01 AM
horizontal rule
166

I believed in Santa until approximately last year. Ok, fine, something closer to 10 than 5, though. I just clung stubbornly to some kind of "belief" in the face of insurmountable evidence because I think I liked the world better that way. Anyway, I finally gave it up when, home sick from school watching "Midday with Bill Boggs," I saw Christopher Reeve say "It's like when you learn there's no Santa Claus." Thanks, Superman!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 10:03 AM
horizontal rule
167

Although, he might just have been participating in the coverup. After all, who could deliver presents to every child in the world better than Superman?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 10:05 AM
horizontal rule
168

Thanks, Superman!

Also fake.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 10:11 AM
horizontal rule
169

Do you remember how old you were when pwned


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 10:15 AM
horizontal rule
170

My parents used to tell me that James Bond was watching my behaviour through a small camera disguised as a pot plant

This story is even better in American English.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:39 AM
horizontal rule
171

My girls were eight, I think, when one left a note for the tooth fairy asking for a story about her life instead of money, and I left a little poem. Which she then took to school and showed a friend, who prompted her to ask us directly about the tooth fairy, which she then did, and we fessed up. The rest—Santa, the Easter Bunny, leprechauns—fell like dominoes. Both girls were totally unfazed; I think they enjoyed maintaining the fiction but were fine with it being done. That their parents separated shortly thereafter was just a coïncidence.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:46 AM
horizontal rule
172

143, wait, you're allowed to do that? If I had known it was kosher to bullshit kids, I might find it slightly less taxing to be around them.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 11:48 AM
horizontal rule
173

Not just kosher, but required. Mine have become permanently narrow-eyed and suspicious.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 12:03 PM
horizontal rule
174

172: Oh, it's part of the plan. This is basically my science education strategy.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 12:22 PM
horizontal rule
175

Highlanders eventually kill Sean Connery

The Kurgan is a Russian, damnit.

I took my cues on parenting from the dad in Calvin and Hobbes and my children, like LB's, are now permanently suspicious from all the nonsensical stories I've told them their whole lives.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 12:30 PM
horizontal rule
176

172: Smearcase, you have to be careful about bullshitting other people's kids, because it might contradict the parental bullshit.

That's the main reason why people decide to have their own kids.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 12:35 PM
horizontal rule
177

30: Have you seen the Spongebob Squarepants episode in which Spongebob pretends to be a lifeguard and then Patrick nearly drowns on his watch.

I'm screaming at the TV "WTF??? They're underwater!!!!"


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 12:48 PM
horizontal rule
178

I'm so glad I went back and read 30 because I loathe Bubble Guppies and Mara decidedly does not. (Nia pretends not to be a fan, but she sings along with the awful songs and now I do too, making versions that hurry them into the car and so on.) Right now Mara's really into Rastamouse, which is much more pleasant to watch and also on Netflix so I don't have to see ads for other stupid Nickleodeon or Disney things.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 12:55 PM
horizontal rule
179

The problem with Netflix is that there are fourteen different versions of the Power Rangers and, if my experience is anything to go by, you'll eventually have to watch them all.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 12:58 PM
horizontal rule
180

170: Ohhhh. Oh.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:35 PM
horizontal rule
181

172: good lord, how could you not? They just believe you! It's great!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:46 PM
horizontal rule
182

I've found this to be true of people generally, in fact.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:48 PM
horizontal rule
183

It's great fun, unless you do it to Hawaiian Punch, who is one hella venomous kid if she suspects anything is happening at her expense, which she thinks is happening about 5x as often as it's actually happening.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:54 PM
horizontal rule
184

This conversation reminds me of my favorite line from the Loudon Wainwright III song "Being a Dad" (which all you new parents should hear if you haven't already): "They'll treat you like a king/ They'll believe anything/ They're easy to frighten and lie to..."


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 1:55 PM
horizontal rule
185

179: Christ yes.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 2:26 PM
horizontal rule
186

182 to 179.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:17 PM
horizontal rule
187

I endorse 147 and each of its subparts.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 4:45 PM
horizontal rule
188

Neil Gaiman on Jewish Christmas trees


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 12-14-13 12:47 PM
horizontal rule
189

I think 147 is right, but let's not forget that "lying about Santa Claus" is something adults to entertain themselves as much as their children.

I can't do it - again, not so much out of protectiveness of my children, but because I find it distasteful.

And I come from a mixed marriage. My wife is a Santa-liar.

So I tell my kids the same thing I tell them about God: Lots of people believe; but I'm not one of them, and people who do believe should be treated with respect.

The result? My son got suspicious during his 10-year-old Christmas, and my now-9-year-old daughter is on the fence on this issue, but I think would say she believes -- because Pascal's Wager.

(I have a specific memory from when I was apparently about three years old of my older siblings trying to talk me into Santa Claus and failing.)


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-15-13 8:13 AM
horizontal rule