I don’t know if I want Santa in my toddler’s life.
Hold on. Wait a minute. Take a deep breath. “What?!” you may ask. Hear me out.
I was raised, at times, in a Jew-“ish” household. I’d have gifts under the tree that said they were from Santa, but I knew it was fake, along with the Tooth Fairy, who I’d scrawl accusatory notes to: “I know you’re not real.” My stepdad took to driving to his mother’s house to use her typewriter to type back a response. Still, I didn’t believe.
Wait, what?. I had a tree?
Yes. My mother is a lapsed Catholic (a Chicana one from Texas, no less), and my father is per above, Jew-“ish,” more culturally so, from New York (Long Island, no less). But there remains a question as to if I’m “automatically” Jewish since my mom isn’t. But I look Jewish. Way more than I look Mexican.
As a child I lived with both of them, together, for about five years, then with one at a time until I was 18. I spent three years on the east coast with my dad and his Jewish parents. There, we participated in the occasional High Holiday, but to be honest, I don’t know much about being Jewish except for a love of whitefish, some crazy hair, a big nose, and the build of a woman meant to windmill potatoes on a Kibbutz. There wasn’t Christmas. In fact, on the east coast, Jews have a timeworn tradition of either working for their Shiksa friends on December 25 or going to the movies and eating Chinese takeout.
Then I lived with my mother and stepfather, whose family celebrated Christmas and had Santa. Then my sister-from-another-mister was born and BOOM – Christmas entered our house full force. All of a sudden I’m wrapping gifts with secret and separate paper for my sister on Christmas Eve. My closest friend’s mother would even pass along small St. Nick’s gifts.
Thus, my relationship to Christmas, and Santa, is one of amusement. I mean, being fat in my dad’s family is anathema, genes be damned, and now you want to let a fat white guy into the house? Are you kidding me? What if he’s a Republican anti-Semite?
Marriage didn’t make this any easier. I married a Quaker. Yes, Quaker. Not the people who make furniture – those are Shakers. He had Santa in that “well, there were always gifts under the tree that said they were from Santa” vein.
Now we have a toddler who’s conscious enough to understand that something is kind of happening. Last Friday we put up our three-foot, fake, pre-lighted tree from Target and placed some ornaments on it. “Happy Thanksgiving!” she hollered.
But does this mean that a gift under our tree should say it’s from Santa? Do we lie, tiptoe around for a few years, hoping she doesn’t find out and perpetuate the myth? Or do we jump on the bandwagon? The fine folks at Dadwagon have started a tantrum about this.
What say you? Take the poll: