Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Sour Santa

Someone gave us comp tickets to see a new kids' show today, so I took Snuggler and Little Guy. I'd read the reviews, and they were good. But I came out of the show feeling out of sorts and rather depressed: the underlying premise of the plot was that the only thing that brings magic and imagination into the world is Santa. I hadn't expected anything related to faith, but there was no hint -- none -- that Christmas is about, say, giving. Or family. Or being kind.

I guess I'd assumed that a story involving Santa would contain some sort of caring-for-other-human-beings theme. This one didn't. The gist of the plot was that Santa got fed up with snotty, ungrateful kids, and so he quit. Vanished. Disappeared. People tried to find a replacement, but that didn't work. The witch who ran the local coffee shop lost most of her magic, because people's imaginations deteriorated. The mad scientist couldn't think up new inventions, because his creativity diminished. The little girl who sets out to find Santa eventually discovers him in the Australian outback, where he denies that he's the real thing. He's still bitter.

But of course the little girl succeeds in convincing Santa to return, and he apologizes for being so selfish, and all is well in the world again. People can write and invent and cast spells again. All is well again, because Santa is the key to all happiness.

So I ask you, What is wrong with this picture?

I guess we can start with the idea that the key to happiness lies in the hands of someone else. Someone who could get pissed off and walk out on you.

Then: if you are unhappy, the way to happiness is to hunt down the magic person who makes all things well. Becoming happier has nothing to do with using your brains or imagination or figuring out what's wrong with your life and doing something to improve it. It has nothing to do with uncovering what is right and true and good, and trying to align your life with that. It has nothing to do with finding what you can do to bring joy into the world.

If this is Santa and Merry Christmas, bring on Happy Holidays. Oy.

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