Kids at Christmas

December 7, 2010

I almost don’t think I should write about this since I’m sort of repeating stuff I’ve said quite a bit already. But, screw it, here’s another!

Right now, I’m at work and getting ready to send the first batch of NYRA’s holiday cards (yay!) and have 97.1 streaming online, the DC version of the generic Clear Channel light rock station that carries that annoying Delilah show in evenings and in December plays 24/7 Christmas music (with a few Chanukah songs thrown in here and there so they can pretend they’re all inclusive). I love Christmas music, I’ve been over this many times, yet there are several songs, which I’ve also mentioned before here and here and here and here and here, which are awful and keep getting played for some reason. Two of the worst are “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”. While the latter thankfully doesn’t seem to be getting played quite as much this year, the former is of course getting played over and over.

I mean, songs about Santa are great. Santa is great. “Here Comes Santa Claus” is fine. As are “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas” and “Up on the Housetop”. Not that any of those gets much play compared to the same-old “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”. Those other songs do the right thing and portray Santa as a nice jolly guy who shows up on Christmas Eve and gives you presents because he’s awesome like that. What does “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” do? It portrays him as a fucking ogre that spies on you and will show up and kick your ass if you are ever upset over anything, yet if you’re not he’ll totally build a toyland for you or something. Pair that with “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and the message seems to be that if you’re “bad”, Santa will not only leave you nothing but will make you watch as he makes out with your mom.

Adults love the idea of blackmailing children at Christmas time into behaving in a way they approve of by threatening to send away the jolly gift-giving saint. When around this time of year, my parents tell my little brother that he’d better behave or Santa won’t come, and I promptly tell him “Please! Santa doesn’t give a shit what these assholes think!” Yes, in those exact words.

But all this really makes you think once again how children are viewed. Society claims to love children and that things like Christmas are supposed to be made for them, yet when we also embrace the idea of using Christmas not as an unconditional year-end gift in and of itself but as a bargaining chip in exchange for submission, it’s clear that it is not the children themselves who are so loved. What is loved is adults’ idea of children, and that and only that is what adults think Christmas should be for. There’s no real expectation that children should be happy or loved, but they must certainly look that way. They must merely be the playthings of adults to be molded to the correct way, and those who aren’t are to be tossed aside and forgotten.

While I’ve never actually known a kid who missed out on Christmas because of his or her behavior, it’s still a major show of asshattery to hang that over their heads at all. Yeah, they still get the gifts, but you sure do your damndest to make them feel like shit over it. Suddenly they’re just spoiled while you’re so doting. 🙄

This does not mean Santa Claus should be thrown out entirely, hell no! Just acknowledge that all children (from 1 to 92!) are worthwhile. Even disobedient ones. Even non-Christian ones (Santa totally gives the Chanukah presents, right?). It’ll make the season even brighter and alleviate later resentment.

This Christmas time view of children is of course just one symptom of the enormous problem of children’s low position in our society. There’s a lot of ingrained mindsets to challenge. Christmas just has a way of shedding some light on those mindsets. Just as well. Can’t fight them if you can’t see them.