Saturday, March 13, 2010

HO HO HO

Several years ago my mother told me that ALL birds sit the same direction when sitting on a wire. Momentarily, I forgot this was the same women who told me that Santa Claus, The Easter bunny and the tooth fairy were real.
The day I discovered that birds do their own thing brought about a similar feeling as I had when I discovered Santa Claus really didn't make that arduous trek each year on Christmas Eve. For the longest time I kept looking at birds on a wire hoping she was right! I even told myself maybe she meant if they sit there long enough they'd get on the same page. When I finally came to the conclusion what she had told me was hogwash (yes, hogwash), I shook my head and wondered why she had lied to me...AGAIN! I immediately told my daughter, the princess that her grandmother was crazy!

I was probably a lot younger than most kids when they come to the realization that Santa Claus isn't real. Thanks to my 3 older brothers, I was 5 when they enlightened me. The enlightenment had a definite purpose. After all, of course they didn't seize the moment to once again crush me like they had by hiding my decapitated dolls under the house and cutting all the stuffing out of them or begging my mother to take me for a ride in the stroller only to let me roll down a hill and smack into a tree. This enlightenment came about as a result of my mother telling them when I stopped believing in Santa Claus, the family would open their gifts on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day. My mother felt it was easier to "get it out of the way" the night before, so she could concentrate on cooking the next day. Let's just say, the Santa myth was thoroughly debunked in 1960.

As an adult, I started wondering why do we do that to children. Why do we set them up for their first major disillusionment? Would it be wrong to tell them from the start that Santa Claus is just make believe? I often wondered why we do the same thing with God and Jesus to children. Can't we can teach children morality and goodness without doing it with fear tactics? Instead, the fear of burning in eternal damnation if they aren't good people and believe in a deity that allows horrible things to happen to good people is drummed into their minds. Shouldn't we lead by example? Shouldn't we put telling the truth at the top of the list when teaching children about life and how to deal with people in general? Shouldn't we do the right thing just because it feels right?

Gratitude statement: I am thankful for the moments of clarity I have.

9 comments:

  1. The older I get the more convinced I am that the truth is always the best policy in all situations.

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  2. I am so glad we talked tonight and that you gave me this address. I will be in contact with you one way or another.

    I just read The End of Faith by Sam Harris and it really made me think about how religion can be destructive in a lot of ways. If you are able to read sometime you might want to check out that book.

    I have not completely given up on God, but I have a different perspective now. I think I am become an uber liberal.

    I hope all goes well for you and that we communicate again soon.

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  3. my parents brought me up to question everything...to not believe something simply because someone said it was so.

    unfortunately, they didn't mean THEM.

    as a result, I felt I knew more than they did, because I did questioned everything...including them.

    so, i never understood why they kept perpetuating all those stupid myths, like santa, easter bunny etc.

    of course, when I had my own kids, I did the same stupid thing. I have no idea why.

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  4. and yes, we should lead by example. and truth should be at the top of the list.

    unfortunately, i wasn't the best example and often didn't tell the truth...for example: about drugs.

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  5. Laoch, yes honesty is the best policy and as long as a person is honest there's no story they have to remember.

    Jo Ann, it was good talking to you also and I'm so glad you're doing well. I'll make sure I'll add the book you recommended to my list of must reads.

    Jnuts, I think most people do things the way they had learned them as a child. Most people don't stop and think "I'll never do that to my children" when it involves Santa Claus. If I had it to do over again, I would do it a little differently. Although I have to admit that the outcome of what I did do produced 3 terrific human beings. One thing I was always honest about with my children was my past. I wanted them to know it's okay to make mistakes and that no one is perfect. I think in doing so, they look at people in a more tolerant way.

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  6. Well....I left you a TOME at your other 'home'.. (rhyming unintentional but amusing).
    So... I will not hog more space here - except to say that I too was honest with my kids about my past - they learned it was ok to make mistakes. The other thing I always did was recognize when I made a mistake with them - and apologized for it instead of justifying it.
    Enjoy your time away!
    Dragon

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  7. Dragon, I read your dissertation and wish you would copy and paste it to this page as well.

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  8. Ask and you shall receive:

    There are two parts to this answer, I think.
    First: Young minds cannot comprehend 'shades of gray'. Things either are or aren't. So, the easiest way to teach them the difference between good and bad is through something that they can understand - punishment for bad and reward for good. God is not tangible - God is a spirit or idea or thought that some believe to BE (regardless of the name they use) and some do not. That is almost impossible for a child to understand.
    Jesus, however - - whether Prophet or Son of God or simple man, we celebrate His birth at Christmas. Children are easily able to associate being 'good' with the picture of a benevolent man holding a lamb, or seated with children around Him, or holding a heart - which they readily associate with love and security(which are synonymous to them), this man, they can easily understand as 'Good'. Since Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit, are all associated with bright light colors, it is then very easy to associate 'BAD' with dark colors of 'Lucifer'....
    This is one part - but seems to only work well with those who actually continue to believe that there is, in fact, a Being Greater than Man in one form or another.
    Fear is the only perfect motivator. It is most often the fear of not doing something or failing at something or having to do without or the suffering of pain that is the motivator for humans to do something. Now - there are those that fear nothing. They are few and far between - but they truly fear nothing and cannot be motivated by fear to do or not do something. What makes us get up and go to work day after day... what makes us see things that we know are wrong and yet can do nothing about except tolerate day after day. Is it really the reward of a paycheck every two weeks or medical benefits? Well, perhaps for a few. But most of us get up and go every day because we fear something.... not being able to hold ourselves up to our families as credible, not being able to support our families, not being able to retire comfortably, not being able to afford a home or food...............
    Should it be fear that is the motivator? No. It shouldn't. Should we be able to learn by example....yep. But do we? If we learned by example, why is it our children have to prove to themselves all the things that we already did? If I smoke in my daughters lifetime, and she is old enough to hate it, and I quit for all those good reasons we quit - why does she smoke? If I drank in my sons life time and he hated me when I did and I quit for all the good reasons we quit - why did he drink? Why does history continually repeat itself? Why do we continually engage in warfare to solve a problem? The answer is as complex as people are...................

    Two more comments and then I'll stop being a 'space hog'.....
    1. 'Shouldn't we do the right thing just because it feels right?' Yep - but, if that were the rule of thumb to follow - there are many things that many would do that they should not just because it feels right.......
    2.) Santa Claus........ Santa Claus (St. Nicholas) in his original form was a most wondrous being..... most definitely Santa Claus should be part of childhood - just as all make-believe is. Imagination should ALWAYS be encouraged and the young minds have such vast and amazing imaginations before we adults clutter it up with reality. Santa of old - or St Nicholas - embodies the spirit of giving and of love. And THAT is really what Christmas is all about.
    The commercialized Santa Claus of today needs to go the way of the dinosaur.....



    IHaven'tTypedThisMuchInALooooongTimeDragon!

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  9. Thanks Dragon! As always I enjoyed reading your slant on things.

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