It comes down to this: I did not tell my children that a strange man comes into their room at night to leave presents. The end.
This polar position of mine has drawn fire and ire, it is true. Even before I had kids, as I confidently asserted about the age of eighteen, sitting in a boyfriend's house, declaring to his mother, that I would never, ever, tell my kids that Santa existed, and in my opinion, that was lying, and I knew this was like saying 'the Pope is gay' to a Catholic. I was a walking, talking, venial, mortal, eternal sin. Well so what? That relationship wasn't going anywhere, anyway.
When someone gave me the foolhardy task of raising my own mini people, I stuck to my No Santa line, because it's a lie, Godammit. I still remember the hurt and injury when I found out. I also remember saying to my mother I'll never believe anything you say, ever again. Frankly, I'm not risking that from Shark, Squirrel and Tiger. I need them to believe me, because they have yet to hear the family history.
So I explained to my miniatures that Santa was a story, plain and simple. We looked at pictures of fat men in red suits from Coca-Cola advertising strategies circa 1930. Then I told them how some people (the innocent and gullible) liked to believe Santa was real, and - to my uncomprehending children - gave the instruction that they were not to shout out in a Tesco queue in the presence of other 4-year olds, Santa's not real! Santa's not real!
When the mother-in-law-never-to-be heard me declare my soul's intent as a young 18-year old, well, that was me frozen out of all celebrations, joys, and Christmas spirit, because I had stolen Christmas, irreparably damaged it, spoiled it for everyone, made a fool of myself, couldn't iron a shirt, and had no right even walking on planet earth because I was a child abuser and probably a mass murderer.
I cannot say the tone has shifted much in the response to my Santa-Free Celebrations. For whatever reasons, the line still can make people uneasy, and if you are a fellow No-Santa, then you'll have experienced the awkward pauses too.
One of the charges that has been levelled at me, is how I am encouraging children to have No Magic and No Imagination at This Special Time.
I have never given an adequate response to that charge, because it doesn't make any sense. Does it mean we can schedule Magic and Imagination at Christmas and Easter, but not mid-July because, somehow, not being A Special Time, mid-July would be Wrong?
Each to their own. The teens, possibly psychologically dented, thanks to their mother's brutalities, had December's magic and imagination like this instead:
Il Trovatore at the Royal Opera House. Brilliant and thrilling, with a plot that involves deceitful mother-love, accidental baby burning, and anvils. Fantastic staging! I LOVED Anita Rachvelishvili's voice as Azucena. If you have pots of gold, then buy tickets. And if you have £7.50, then book kids into the schools performances. The only trouble with my ROH attendance is now I've got into the habit. The idea of not attending HURTS, and we are close to the edge of non-eligibility. So yay me because I've started saving to pay the sodding membership fees to get the mid-range seat prices. Lidl value range pasta at 29p for 500g should help towards this need.
Strange Beasts and Where to Find Them in 4D. I wanted 3D but they only offered the 4D experience. Honestly, don't bother. 3D is fine; you get monsters and explosions right at you, but 4D? Half-way through, I turned to glare at the bloke behind me, for kicking my seat. Then I realised that was the 4D moment. Someone spat at me and Dig spilt wine down his trousers, even after we'd told him your seat will wobble.
King Lear at the Old Vic. Of course I had to take my Gribblysnofflebobs to experience this bit of theatre history. Who would miss Glenda Jackson as Lear? I'd have to be in hospital or dead. A mighty Lear, a superb Fool, a strange Brechtian thread, and a fantastic storm with bin plastic and video rain. Excellent minimalist force. Loved it, although we had to catch the Drunk Express to get home, which was unfortunate.
So there we have it: a December of No Imagination and No Magic. So far. But I suspect that nothing will redeem me: without Santa, I will remain outside human society for ever. Hmm. Thinking about it, I might start a meet-up group for like-minded No-Santaites who like theatre. I'm sure we could get together and wear hats.