Is it okay to play the Santa trump card?

As much as I love Christmastime, I’d be the first to admit that the holiday has been whored out beyond belief. Almost beyond recognition, even. And if I’m blaming any one figure, it’d have to be Santa. Oh, sure, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And he’s an avid capitalist and makes a shitton of money. He’s got a super-tight crib on the Upper West Side, though he spends most of his time in the Hamptons with all the beautiful people.

I swear this is true: if it weren’t for the fact that it’d ruin it for all their friends, I’d tell the triplets that Santa is a load of sacrilegious horseshit in two-point-two seconds. And that he’s also the reason that the true spirit of the season has forever been lost. Or at least confused and co-mingled.

Harsh? Maybe. But it’s hard to teach three five-year-olds the true meaning of Christmas when their biggest concern is whether or not Santa will know what a Lego “mobile police unit” is. And for whatever reason, this year that frustration has reached a crescendo. Yes, I love seeing the look of excitement on their faces. Yes, I love hearing their laugh and witnessing their unbridled joy. But I’m sorry, y’all, it’s just that sometimes it feels I’m buying such reactions and that Santa’s the one brokering the deal.

Even so, there is one upside to this whole Santa Claus debacle, right? You can lay down Santa’s fat red ass like the ultimate trump card to get the little ones to mind their manners. To do as they’re told. To make sure that “not a creature was stirring” is more than just a line from a poem, but rather a bedtime maxim that’s taken to heart.

After all, he is watching. Gonna find out who’s naughty or nice.

So, I’ll be the first to admit, I’ll lay down the Santa trump card in the blink of an eye. Do I think it’s wrong on some levels? Of course I do. It’s not lost on me that (a) I’m blackmailing my kids and (b) the leverage that permits me to do so has sprung from a lie.

But it sure is nice to get the triplets to stop fighting every now and then. It sure is nice to buy a moment of peace and quiet.

So anyway, Caroline catches me laying the Santa trump card the other day and shoots me a disappointed look. The kind of look that says we’re gonna talk about this later.

Which we did.

“You can’t do that, honey.”

“Why not?” I said.

“Because it’s wrong.”

“So’s the whole Santa Claus lie.”

“Doesn’t matter. It’s wrong to rely upon a holiday tradition to coerce your kids into doing what you want them to do.”

“Really? Then explain to me the phenomenon that is the Elf on the Shelf. You think the dude who created that is conflicted about such a trespass? How about the zillions of parents that move that pint-sized tattle tale around to various spots in the house, thereby making their kids believe he’s real?”

“I don’t see your point.”

“It’s the same thing. The Elf is supposedly spying on the kids, right? And he’s in touch with Santa. Do the math, Caroline. Elf on the Shelf is the exact same thing as the Santa trump card, only you gotta pay 30 bucks to play it.”

That was pretty much the end of our conversation. And I don’t mean to put words in her mouth, but I think Caroline’s contention is this: the Elf on the Shelf is a general thing and when I say “WHOA. I bet Santa wouldn’t like that,” I’m plucking out a specific scenario and trying to control it. And, again, I get it. So much so that I’ve pulled back my Santa trump-card usage. But I’ve not eliminated it altogether.

Because I just don’t see anything more wrong with playing the Santa trump card than I do with the lie of Santa, himself. I mean, if he’s going to dilute the meaning of Christmas, then why can’t I get a lower volume on the TV set outta the deal?

This post was every bit as serious as it was facetious. Have you ever played the Santa trump card? Is it wrong to do so?

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Read more of JCO Multiplied:
NYC Nanny Killings: Personalizing the Tragedy
7 Things You Should NOT Discuss With the Parents of Triplets
How the DVR Ruined My Vacation in Specific and Parenting in General
15 Things Every Stepparent Should Know
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Check out my personal blog over at JohnCaveOsborne(dot)com

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