Sunday, December 30, 2012

6 years + 2 months

It is appropriate that Emily's picture this month is taken in pajamas since that's pretty much the only thing she wore while home for Christmas break.  She spent hours and hours taking apart, reassembling and role playing with her growing Lego Friends collection.  It has been a great source of imaginative entertainment for her.

The holiday season was quite a learning experience for Emily this year.  In school music class she learned a lot about Hanukkah.  She asked a lot of questions at home and even made her own menorah.  I have absolutely no problem with her learning about the traditions and history of a Jewish holiday at school.  I do, however, find it a little annoying (and hypocritical) that it's fine to do a unit on Hanukkah, mention Kwanzaa and spend three weeks learning Christmas "carols" about Santa, jingle bells, snowmen and reindeer for an all-school "Santa Sing-along," but not a single mention or note was uttered on anything remotely Christian related.  I don't really fault the school.  I just consider it a sad commentary on our current culture and society.

The other major thing Emily learned this month is that Santa isn't real.  We have never talked about or played up the whole Santa thing, and she has always been somewhat skeptical when the topic came up in the past.  They never mentioned it in preschool.  Exposure in Kindergarten got her thinking, though.  She badgered us about it for weeks, trying all sorts of sneaky angles (including revealing her contrived plan to use the video monitor to spy on the stockings all night).  I tried to remain vague and non-committal without outright lying.  Finally, I asked her if she wanted to really know the truth.

We had a talk about the story of the real St. Nicholas and how the legend of Santa Claus came out of that.  We didn't talk about the whole naughty/nice/being good thing because that part really irritates me--sorry all "Elf on the Shelf" fans, but I had to get that off my chest.  That thing is just plain creepy.  We did, however, talk about the joy of secret giving and random acts of kindness.  The kids did get small things in their stockings this year on Dec. 27 with no real mention of Santa.  Emily & I discussed starting a tradition of leaving secret presents for each other in our stockings in future years.  We also talked about how other families have fun traditions that include Santa Claus, and it wasn't our job to tell them if that was right or wrong (in other words, don't be the kid who ruins another kid's Christmas by blabbing about how Santa isn't real).  Emily was satisfied and actually seemed a little relieved about the whole thing.  Now she's contemplating the tooth fairy...

**Side note** I have begun to realize how much influence the outside world has on our kids.  Lincoln has mentioned the idea of "Santa" way more than Emily ever has.  Yes, there are lots of innocent, heart-warming books (The Polar Express has convinced Lincoln but actually caused Emily to doubt), and you can't miss the image of Santa around Christmastime.  I think the thing that annoys me the most, though, is when people (in absolute, complete innocence) ask the kids what Santa is going to bring them or if Santa was good to them or what they got from Santa.  It's always an awkward moment because Lincoln doesn't completely understand the concept since we don't practice it at home, Emily knows the truth and doesn't know what to say (especially after the talk about not dissing other people's traditions), and I don't know what to say either.  I don't want to come across sounding all self-righteous by replying, "We don't do Santa in our house," but I sort of feel the need to explain the kids' silence-bordering-on-rudeness-shyness whenever the question is asked.  What would/do you do/say?

Emily's December artwork from school

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