Santa Claus: patriarchal judgmental jerk, hyper-vigilant God, or outdated rogue? Feelings Detective is on the case.
Seasonal festivals in a culture always demonstrate certain values of that culture. Christmas in America celebrates the mythical figure of Santa Claus, a speedy, fat, omnipotent god capable of making character judgments that determine one’s yearly allotment of cheer or disapproval.
The classic song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” spells out a hagiographical portrait of this holy man. But is this really what the USA believes sanctity to be all about?
“You better watch out”
This is a call for generalized hypervigilance and anxiety. We teach out children to be in constant fear of disapproval and to always be looking over their shoulders.
But no adults feel that way, right?
“You better not cry”
Showing signs of emotions is clearly an unwelcome activity. Sadness is not allowed. Christmas is about being happy, divergence will not be tolerated.
Let’s invalidate feelings across the board as young as possible, so we can be healthy adults! Everybody loves the holidays, or else.
“You better not pout”
So even if you’re not crying, do not show any signs that you would be crying if it were allowed. Numb your feelings, all of them if you must. Turn that upside-down smile, right-side up.
“I’m telling you why”
Your subjective experience of your own life is unimportant. You will listen to this Santa Claus narrative and assimilate what you are told to assimilate.
But don’t just take my word for it, it’s important to instill deeper fear.
“Santa Claus is Coming to Town”
The implicit threat of violence or vengeance in this is parallel to the “wait til your father gets home” that so many grow up with.
Do as you’re told and if that doesn’t scare you enough…
“He sees you when you’re sleeping”
WTF!? When I’m sleeping? He’s omniscient and omnipresent as well? So I guess constant anxiety is the only thing that will work?
It might not be healthy for human biology, but it maintains order, so it’s all good. But, don’t only creepy people or dear loved ones watch me when I am sleeping? Is Santa both? Can I trust anyone?
“He knows when you’re awake”
Give me a break! Kids should fear their inability to sleep as well? Perhaps this is all about developing habits to be asleep when Santa finally arrives?
Do I have no agency in my own life?
“He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake”
Santa has some really powerful skills for dealing with life’s complex moral questions. He has a perspective that allows him to judge my goodness or badness and to impose his notion of what these things are.
And he has the follow through to make sure that I comply with his rigid morality. But how does he keep track?
“He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice”
He takes copious notes on all my activities and then makes double sure to judge me. Sounds a lot like government and corporate surveillance.
Is Santa an independent contractor for the NSA or something?
“He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice”
So, I assumed before he already knew who was naughty or nice based on his omniscience. But now it’s being played off as a passive discovery process.
Is this to deflect criticism of Santa as a patriarchal, judgmental prick? Good thing I put Cole in my stockings each morning. Who needs this guy?
Photo: AlmaArte Photography/Flickr