Do children believe in Santa

From the Washington Times comes an article about children and Santa Claus. (see here)

In discussing this article, I think I need to first discuss just how far back into their childhood do most people remember. I recently read an article that claimed most adults do not remember anything earlier then the age of five.

This claim might be true, but if it is true then I am one of the exceptions to the majority. I have numerous clear memories of life prior to starting school. It is impossible to date most of these memories, however I do know that I surprised my own mother by having clear memories of my paternal Grandfather's farm. My Grandfather sold and moved off the farm when I was still extremely young. I have clear memories of the "big day" the move started as well as memories of visiting his farm long before the move was considered. At first my mother simply would not believe I had clear memories. I had to prove it to her by getting detailed in my descriptions of the farm (I have detailed memories of feeding my grandfather's hogs, and described exactly the corn bin which stood beside and over the hog pen.) I convinced my mother that in fact I really did remember and she was almost shocked.

How does this tie into Santa Claus? Well, again I might be unusual but I have absolutely no memory of ever really believing in Santa Claus. I can remember being young enough to sit on Santa's knee (prior to entering school), but I also can remember only doing it for show. I was very careful in considering just what I was going to ask Santa for because I knew Mommy was going to be listening. I also have memories of more then one Christmas before I entered school. I think that would mean I have memories back to when I was at least as young as three possibly as young as two.

I do know that I have memories of one of my older sisters, while I was a toddler, preparing me for the arrival of my younger brother who is two years younger then me. They were showing me all the new stuff my Mother had for the new baby that was going to be arriving. Stuff like baby blankets that I guess she received at baby showers. I remember liking all the new baby stuff but being unhappy that the new stuff was not for me and it was going to be for the new arrival. I was jealous. I also have memories of sleeping in the crib in my parents bedroom. I was still young enough that they would raise the sides of the crib to keep me in there when it was time to take a nap and I hated being penned up. I can remember that one way to get Mommy to come let me out after I awoke from my nap was to grab onto the sides of the crib and shake them. If I kept at it long enough she would come and release me. I think these memories would mean I have clear memories all the way back to age two and even possibly younger since I would have had to vacate the crib for the new baby, my younger brother.

Perhaps I was unusual. If it is unusual to have memories to younger then five then perhaps it is unusual to have figured out Santa is not real at such a young age. But Mommy and Daddy, at least some of your children have it figured out long before you think they do. I remember going along with the gag because it was so important to them. Thinking back as an adult I guess they were in no hurry for me to grow up.

As for sitting on Santa's lap? I considered it a pain in the you know what. You had to stand quietly in line for the "privilege" of sitting on the lap of some stranger who obviously had a fake beard. I endured the ordeal because Mommy was so excited about it and I guess I wanted to please her. I can even remember, while sitting in the car on the way to see Santa, considering how to convince Mommy I was excited even though I really dreaded it. It sure seemed important to her.

But let me reassure you I did feel genuine excitement about Christmas itself, even if I rarely got the expensive toys I asked for because my family couldn't afford them.


Blogger Little David said...

After discussing my early childhood memories with my wife, I think I need to add this update.

While my brother is "two years younger then me" my wife says he is actually closer to three years, something like 2 years 10 months. She is probably right.

She says my mother (who is now deceased) told her that at one point she had two cribs (I never knew this). I might have remained in the crib in my parents room until I was older then most would consider usual because my parents had 11 kids and I had to sleep somewhere. There might not have been room for me anywhere else in the house.

So my memories of "early childhood" might only be back to a couple months prior to my third birthday, which my daughter states would not be that unusual.

12/14/2005 09:21:00 AM  

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