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I’m Sierra. I live in the Boston area with my family.

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Being an Elf is Hard

by Sierra on December 10, 2009 · 13 comments

in parenting

51gLwvGSHAL._SL500_AA280_My eBay bid from yesterday was a silly success: Santa will be delivering a set of Disney Princess Barbies to my kids on Christmas morning, as requested in their letter to him.

I only hope I won’t regret this when they’re playing “Sister vs. Sister Deathmatch” over the Snow White doll in a few weeks.

I’ve written before that I still believe in Santa, even though I know perfectly well that I buy and wrap the gifts under the tree. One proof: I would never buy Barbie Princess dolls for my daughters. I’m not exactly a fan of princesses.

Someone mentioned yesterday that we all have our moments of weakness, but it wasn’t weakness that led me to push the button on that eBay listing. I was simply obeying a higher power: Santa Claus.

Santa’s job, ultimately, is not to make me happy. His gift list isn’t shaped by letters pouring in from moms around the world describing the delights they wish for their children. Santa grants the wishes of children themselves.

The whole point of Santa Claus is that he gives children what they want.

I plan to give each of my girls a handmade weighted blanket for the holidays, new winter coats and boots, a family photo yearbook and books of feminist fairy tales. Those are the things I want them to have from their mom, to grow on and with in the coming year.

But when I’m wearing my Santa hat, my job is to be uncharacteristically indulgent of their wishes. That doesn’t mean violating my basic values: when I shop on Mr. Claus’ behalf, I still don’t buy overpriced, new items. But it does mean opening up to gifts I’d never consider giving from me.

I’m sure the handmade blankets and books will be family treasures long after Barbie has given way to Boys in the girls’ affections. In the meantime, they have Santa Claus to treat them like princesses.

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  • http://notlikeacat.blogspot.com/ julia

    Hooray for princess Barbies! It looks like a wonderful set. I love your approach to xmas/Santa: a wise mix of what I'd call “sage gifts” plus some purely child-wish fulfillment.

    Can you please list some of the feminist fairy tales, for those of us who'd like to share them w/ our sons, nieces, etc.?

    [This comment is coming from someone who is terrified of having/raising a daughter, lest the child want to play with Barbies and other princessy, un-feminist stuff. I may need to model your approach should I one day have a daughter.]

    [Reply]

  • jmagnus

    Hooray for princess Barbies! It looks like a wonderful set. I love your approach to xmas/Santa: a wise mix of what I'd call “sage gifts” plus some purely child-wish fulfillment.

    Can you please list some of the feminist fairy tales, for those of us who'd like to share them w/ our sons, nieces, etc.?

    [This comment is coming from someone who is terrified of having/raising a daughter, lest the child want to play with Barbies and other princessy, un-feminist stuff. I may need to model your approach should I one day have a daughter.]

    [Reply]

  • jmagnus

    I didn't intend to post 2x; the Disqus thing tripped me up. Can you please delete one of those, plus this? Thanks!

    [Reply]

  • Rich Wilson

    I'll see your fear of barbies and raise you a fear of son wanting a toy gun.

    What I'm 'planning' to do is to not make a big deal of it, but hopefully steer him in other directions. What I don't want to do is make it forbidden fruit. Been there myself, and nothing peaks a kid's interest like a parent saying “No!” Although I do like the idea of Santa giving a toy gun if it has to happen, since it's something that would turn me inside out.

    [Reply]

  • msmsgirl

    I just have to say, I love your philosophy of Santa Claus.

    My parents had an ok one growing up ('Santa is the spirit of Christmas, Santa is someone who loves you very much') which really beat the really damaging outright falsehoods from supposed authorities (the TV news sighting him and tracking his progress on the weather report) and guilt trips and demands of hypocritical performance (if you express skepticism you won't get any presents) that were around. I've always felt very lucky that when I grew out of my belief, there was no disillusionment, disappointment, or anger, because it had always been presented to me in such a spiritual light in the first place.

    My mom always says that one of the most magical things she's experienced was getting to be Santa Claus. And this is one instance in which I think, without knowing it, she might actually mean 'magical' in a sense akin to the way in which you use the word. But your articulation of the Santa Claus process and how its magic inheres is even better — 'hell yeah I believe in Santa Claus, there is no way I would buy these toys!' I hope to fully embrace this magical role if I have a kid!

    [Reply]

  • Rich Wilson

    I'll see your fear of barbies and raise you a fear of son wanting a toy gun.

    What I'm 'planning' to do is to not make a big deal of it, but hopefully steer him in other directions. What I don't want to do is make it forbidden fruit. Been there myself, and nothing peaks a kid's interest like a parent saying “No!” Although I do like the idea of Santa giving a toy gun if it has to happen, since it's something that would turn me inside out.

    [Reply]

  • msmsgirl

    I just have to say, I love your philosophy of Santa Claus.

    My parents had an ok one growing up ('Santa is the spirit of Christmas, Santa is someone who loves you very much') which really beat the really damaging outright falsehoods from supposed authorities (the TV news sighting him and tracking his progress on the weather report) and guilt trips and demands of hypocritical performance (if you express skepticism you won't get any presents) that were around. I've always felt very lucky that when I grew out of my belief, there was no disillusionment, disappointment, or anger, because it had always been presented to me in such a spiritual light in the first place.

    My mom always says that one of the most magical things she's experienced was getting to be Santa Claus. And this is one instance in which I think, without knowing it, she might actually mean 'magical' in a sense akin to the way in which you use the word. But your articulation of the Santa Claus process and how its magic inheres is even better — 'hell yeah I believe in Santa Claus, there is no way I would buy these toys!' I hope to fully embrace this magical role if I have a kid!

    [Reply]

  • Pingback: All I Want For Christmas is January — ChildWild

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  • wendy russell

    Rich Wilson (see below) flagged me to this post, and I’m so glad he did. As the feminist mom of a princess-obsessed little girl, I love the sentiment. (Although, if I’m channeling Santa to buy my kid princess shit at Christmas, who am I channeling the rest of the year?) :-)

    Wendy Thomas Russell
    relaxitsjustgod.com

    [Reply]

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