gee, why on earth would i say such a thing?
i have yet to meet a single person who felt the way i did as a child. i'm still searching. so i hope putting this up here will help me find that person.
i am claustraphobic. i did not like santa as a child. there are a few pictures of me hightailing it away from him in a baby walker. when i was very small, santa was a big creepy man who had an abnormal beard (yes, i noticed that it wasn't like other beards!) and smelled funny. "ho ho ho!" never sounded happy to me, santa sounded wicked pissed. perhaps how i grew up is the real kicker.
so as a child i was told that if i was bad, santa wouldn't bring presents for anyone. well, honestly, i really didn't give a fuck about the presents for me. since early childhood, i rather would have done my own shopping in the mall and taken advantage of bargains (you should have seen me with the sale circulars at 5!). much more fun and i could get exactly what i wanted. it was my family being angry with me on xmas morning because santa didn't bring them presents that caused apprehension. do you have any idea what amount of stress i was under because if i did one little thing wrong, well, my family would go downstairs to an empty tree and blame ME?!
how did i figure this out? well, where i grew up, someone always got robbed on xmas- presents stolen, apartment ransacked, etc. the thief was never caught. every year it was on our tv, no fail. i lived in a big city. well, my parents also told me santa brought a lump of coal for bad kids. of course i was about 4 years old, so when my father said this, i didn't know what a 'lump of coal' was. we didn't use coal. my ability to comprehend wasn't at peak, so i heard it as 'lumper coal'. yeah, whatever 'lumper coal' was, it was something bad. so i thought it meant no presents.
the legend goes santa made presents in a workshop at the north pole. well, as a child, i watched geography shows with my parents on pbs. according to that, no lone lived on the north pole period. so the idea seemed far fetched, especially with the amount of presents he had to make, which all said 'made in taiwan' on them. so i figured he was more like a robin hood than a santa claus, stealing the presents from bad people and giving them to the good. this was what 'lumper coal' meant to me.
of course, growing up in the city in the 1980s also meant another lesson taught- stranger danger. never open the door for anyone. don't go near cars. it goes on. i was an only child on top of that which made my parents even more clingy. so why the hell were we letting a stranger in a red suit into our home?! and the risk of him ransacking our home on xmas eve made it all make even less sense. why did we put out presents we were giving to each other for santa to steal and not lock them up?
my parents would make me sit on santa's lap no matter how scared i was with the threat of "we can't have christmas if you don't sit on santa's lap." they have a photo of me, clearly uncomfortable, forced to sit on his lap. WHY?! WHY?! i wasn't a bad kid, but i had this horrid fear that no matter how good i was, especially around xmas, it wasn't good enough for santa and our house would be robbed. i asked my parents, "why does santa come?" "why can't we just give presents to each other?". of course, it was answered with, "santa HAS to come!" i was also told the, "behave because santa's watching!" even if i didn't do anything bad. so i was even more reluctant to express my fear of santa, worried that my fears would cause santa to rob us- because he saw and heard everything.
i tried my hardest to put a stop to this evil santa claus. i told my parents i didn't want him to come. i didn't want my family's presents stolen at my expense. i was just trying to stop santa's evil ways. it wasn't about presents- it was about protecting my family. i ran around on xmas eve making absolutely sure the windows and doors were locked tight. a habit my mother thought was quite odd until i explained it about 10 years later. i even tried to put chairs under the door knobs like i had seen in cartoons to keep santa out. i did it in my room when i went to bed xmas eve. well, none of it worked. and every year he still took a bite of the cookies we left out and left us presents.
most people would think with the nice presents that my fear would stop. it didn't. after we had presents, i would still be apprehensive, because next year we might not be as lucky.
my thoughts went deeper than that, even as a small child. why didn't santa give gifts to my childhood friend who was hindu? she was nice girl. how could being hindu make her a bad person? why were some of the poor kids skipped over as well? they were nice. santa and his cruel threats made no sense. i could never understand people's joy over his arrival.
it came to a head when i was about 8 or so. it was xmas morning. it was the year my parents decided to tell me he wasn't real. i came down to no presents from santa and thought santa had robbed us and it was my fault. i had a complete meltdown with my grandmother. i told her everything i thought about santa, which she had no idea because my parents told me my feelings were foolish, so i kept them to myself. i kinda flipped at my folks, angry for them for ignoring my fears. my grandmother said something i deeply love her for to this day, " oh honey, i'm so sorry!" she held me close, " i wish you had told us you were scared of santa. i had no idea! if you didn't want santa to come, he didn't have to! we will have no more santa in this house, ok? it will be just us." she told my parents no more santa.
from that point on, santa was forbidden from the house. i started buying my own presents as well, taking advantage of yard sales and after xmas bargains, much to the surprise of my family (my grandma wasn't surprised). 20 years later, i'm not angry at my parents over this. i understand my parents just wanted to pass along a childhood tradition they were fond of. santa was a fun tradition for them as both kids and parents. however, they weren't petrified of him as kids.
so i guess i'd like to find that someone who had that fear. and i'd like to tell parents out there: it is NOT CUTE to force your kids to sit on santa's lap while they cry. it's downright CRUEL. i hope this story shows you that kids aren't as stupid as you'd like them to be. i know watching your kids' eyes light up on xmas morning is fun, but please, that feeling of fear lasts a lot longer than the joy of xmas morning. if your kids don't like santa, please don't make him come like mine did. no child should have to spend xmas eve scared- it's supposed to be a happy holiday. i think telling the truth to kids about santa is even better. i wished mine had done it sooner. to be honest, i was much happier when i knew santa wasn't real, and i didn't feel like i was being made the butt of a cruel joke.
now, i don't even celebrate xmas. i was the first in the family to leave christianity. while i don't have any real religious affiliation, we still have a nice, quiet solstice.