Thursday, November 13, 2008

No Virginia, there is no Santa Claus.

(yes, my full name is Virginia, and no, I've never believed in Santa Claus.  And yes, I had a very fun filled childhood and have no interest in squelching anyone's joy!)

Here's a bit of a 'get to know me' blog post!

Warning:  A bit of an odd (maybe controversial?) topic today. :D
But lets have a little fun with this...

I don't really get the deal with telling kids that North-Pole living, Toy-making, Magic sleigh-riding Santa is real.  Maybe it has a bit to do with my upbringing regarding Christmas.  I grew up in the middle of the desert in Northern Kenya.  My neighbors were dirt poor semi-nomadic camel, cattle, and goat herders.  Being just a little north of the equator, December/January was dry season - the hottest time of the year.  Christmas time was all about church for our community - the Christmas play was performed by excited and animated adults, with a mean Herod, an angel with a booming voice and violently flapping arms (the words "fear not" seemed like a good introduction in this portrayal), and complete with live donkeys
 wandering across the front of the church.  On Christmas Eve, church went from about 7 or 8 until midnight, and Christmas morning everyone was back again for another 4 hours of singing.

In this context, it wouldn't have made sense for my parents to present us with the typical 'Santa' story that most Americans get.  After all, if he goes all around the world delivering toys to all children, why was it that my neighbors would get just one new outfit that they knew their parents had saved up for?  Why the discrepancy between what wealthy kids got and what poor kids got?

Santa wasn't totally out of the picture for my family, though.  We learned the historical story of St. Nicholas, and how that evolved into the present day story of Santa Claus.  And we DID 'play Santa.' We would label some gifts as being from Santa, but we all knew it was pretend.  We were good at playing pretend, though!  Aren't most kids?  Why do adults feel the need to convince kids that Santa is real when kids can have just as much fun knowing it's pretend?  I was in the US in 5th grade, and was surprised when I got in trouble for telling my 2nd grade cousin that Santa wasn't real.  First, I had no idea that people *actually* believed the Santa story.  And second, I was a big fan of knowing the truth.  I thought she would want to know what was true, and didn't expect to get in trouble for being honest!  

My biggest question today is this: Why can't we let the Santa story be a 'play pretend' story?  Would that *actually* take any of the joy out of Christmas for children?  Based on my own experience, and the wonderful ability of kids to make believe, I don't think it would.  So why is it important to adults to do so?  (Really - this is an invitation for discussion) :D

And what does this have to do with creativity?  Maybe imagination, the ability to create worlds and ideas, but still have a grounding in reality.  I think that's important for me as an artist and a scientist.  I had the best time making believe as a child, but was still very interested in what was real.  I still love having a mix of getting lost in creativity and learning fascinating information about how the world actually works.  

On another note, here's my newest cuff!  Bright Stripes Peyote Cuff.  This equatorial girl is NOT excited about the grayness this Indiana winter is already bringing.  Ah, for the sunshine and heat of the Kenyan desert this time of year...


thebeadedlily said...

I *love* that cuff! Wonderful job!
I don't know what to say about the other thing except that I feel that honesty is important with children.

Melody Marie Murray said...

The cuff is exquisite.

I was also raised without the Santa myth as anything but a myth (and without a god, either, but that's another matter) and raised my own son Santa-less. There's no shortage of creativity or imagination in either of us, but he knows I won't lie to him about anything. I have never understood lying to children about Santa and I never will, no matter how many rationalizations get applied to it.

Stormee said...

I love your work, I was not raised with Santa either, although we had a Christmas tree and lots of presents, we always knew that they came from Mom and Dad. I was raised believing in God and Jesus, the Son of the Living God.
Your Christmases sound very interesting and I have enjoyed reading about it.