By Sean Chercover
If you’re under the age of eight, you shouldn’t be reading this. Really. Go away, before I tell your mother. . .
Okay . . . now that the little tykes are gone, let’s talk about the non-existence of Santa. The Mouse is only 1, but my wife and I are planning ahead. And we’ve decided that, in our house, Santa Claus will be a game of make-believe. We’re not going to run a con job on the kid and convince him that Santa exists.
Martine (the aforementioned wife) grew up knowing that Santa Claus was pretend, and never felt short-changed. Being half-Norwegian, she actually got double the fun because, in addition to Santa, she and her folks also pretended that a diminutive troll named Julenisse (pictured to the right) was coming over to leave presents . . . as long as she put out a bowl of porridge for him.
The downside is that Julenisse is a spiteful little bastard, and if the Norwegian kiddies forget to leave him some porridge, he will make their crops fail and their cattle barren. Or worse.
In Norway, you do not screw with the nissen.
Here are some truly strange stories of bad behavior by Julenissen all over Norway.
Still, we should pity the little Christmas bastard, because he's being pushed aside by American cultural imperialism, and is turning into the Santa Claus, who is unbearably jolly and whose most interesting sin is leaving lumps of coal lying around.
But I digress…
The point is, you can have plenty of fun with Santa and Julenisse without actually believing in them.
Although I’m sure I enjoyed believing in Santa, my stronger memory is of the day I realized that he didn’t exist. The day I realized that there was a massive conspiracy to make me look like an idiot, and that my parents, my older sister, my grandparents, my teachers . . . the whole GODDAMNED SOCIETY WAS IN ON IT!!!!
In short, I’d been duped. I’d been a mark, a pigeon, a rube. They all knew and I didn’t. What a fool I’d been! What a sucker. And now that I’d finally wised up to the truth, I was expected to play along and help con the younger kids.
Well. I didn’t care much for that, and I’ve been pretty mum on the subject of Santa since then. When my sister had kids, I didn’t burst their bubble, but I didn’t play along with much enthusiasm. I was not the uncle who would say, “And what did Santa bring you this year?”
I remember one of my nieces saying, “Santa’s real, right Uncle Sean?” when she was about six. I don’t remember my answer, but it was probably something like, “How the hell would I know? I’ve never been to the North Pole.”
Anyway, when the time comes, Martine and I will introduce The Mouse to Santa Claus and Julenissen as a game of make-believe.
You might be surprised how intense the negative reaction has been, from some quarters. We certainly were.
Some folks insist that we will be robbing our son of one of the greatest wonders of childhood. Maybe, but we’ll also be sparing him one of the greatest disappointments of childhood.
The only real downside I can see is that The Mouse will be that kid in the schoolyard who says, “Santa is just pretend,” and the other kids will run home crying and the other parents will hate our guts.
I think I can live with that.
Oh, and just in case you're not yet convinced that the entire country of Norway is on drugs, check out this Christmas video: