///Spoiler alert: this article may ruin childhood dreams

Spoiler alert: this article may ruin childhood dreams

By:Sarah Marsh

nd the corner, and with it comes excitement about the arrival of Santa. But academics Christopher Boyle from the UK and Kathy McKay from Australia warned against going too far when it comes to the Father Christmas myth. They said the Santa story can lead children to distrust their parents.

For many, however, 25 December wouldn’t be the same without the big man in red. We asked parents whether they worry about perpetuating the Santa Claus story, or if they feel it’s a rite of passage for children.

Alfred Piers Walter, 69, from Provence, France: We rented Santas every year to come over on Christmas Eve

My children were born in quick succession, from 1988 to 1990. So all three boys are close in age. This meant that Christmas was a big deal – and until my youngest was 11, I would rent a Santa to visit them all.

 Santa Claus is a phenomenal imagination driver. Leave him alone

 

It didn’t cost too much, but the quality of the Santas really varied. They would come on Christmas Eve. Some would make a huge effort and really look the part, while others had very poor beards and bad costumes. One guy that really stood out was around 60; he was very magical and convincing. He even carried a decorated wooden stick. To this day, I ask myself whether he was the real deal.

Santa would visit for around half an hour, and give the children gifts from his sack. The boys were really excited, and each year they’d make a list of what they wanted. We still have the lists today.

Eventually we realised that we couldn’t keep renting Santas – and that’s when we started sending our children a letter from Father Christmas. In it he said that he couldn’t come any more, as younger children needed him more. The kids were not upset by this; they understood.

Now my boys are adults, we never talk about the Santa myth. Telling them it was a lie would somehow ruin the magic, even though they are all grown-up. One of my sons is now a father himself and I think he will keep up the tradition with his child.

Andrew, 58, from Invergordon: My children think it’s odd that other parents pretend Santa is real

There wasn’t an occasion when we had to sit our boys down and explain that Santa was not real. We just never pretended he was – in the same way we don’t pretend that Woody from Toy Story or Batman are real.

 

‘We just never pretended to our boys that Santa was real. In the same way, we never pretended that Woody from Toy Story or Batman were real.’ Photograph: Andrew from Invergordon

I don’t remember anybody actually accusing us of being bad parents because of this. When the subject cropped up, people were usually a bit shocked. The myth of Santa is so ubiquitous that an alternative approach isn’t really considered. Some people have definitely suggested, not necessarily in an unpleasant way, that a child’s enjoyment of Christmas might be diminished without belief inSanta.

But that’s definitely not been the case for us. We have had some wonderful Christmases. In 2004, when the boys were nine and six, we decided to spend Christmas in the middle of a teak forest in southern India. We’d each had a small amount to spend locally on gifts for each other. On Christmas Day they got wooden tops, some sweets, a comic and a ride through the jungle on an elephant. They still say it was their best Christmas ever. The visit to the jungle was part of a six-month round-the-world trip, and by Christmas the boys were already seasoned travellers. Life had taken on a different normality, and presents under a Christmas tree would have been bizarre.

Other than a few trips abroad, we have mostly spent Christmas at home. In many respects it’s a simple affair. We would put a small bag of goodies by the kids’ beds (a couple of small toys, chocolate money, satsumas) that they could have before waking us up. The presents that we gave when we were at home may not always have been the most extravagant, but at the same time we didn’t want them to feel too alienated from their mates.

Now they are older, we have talked to the boys about not lying about Santa. They think it’s odd that parents go along with the pretence.

Robbo, 53, from Melbourne: My husband had to tell the children a reindeer kicked him after a mishap one year

We had six children; they’re now aged from 24 to 34. Christmas was always a huge effort. It involved taking gifts out of hiding, wrapping them, stuffing stockings, hanging them up. On Christmas Eve, all six kids would sleep in the same room, which involved lots of squealing and not much sleeping. We always told them that Santa landed on the roof with his reindeer just before midnight. The older ones were desperate to make the little ones go to sleep before that time.

 

‘Christmas was always a huge effort, involving the hiding, wrapping and stuffing of gifts into stockings.’

Once we had presents wrapped and children in bed, my husband and I would always have a drink. One Christmas Eve, he started a little early and went to sleep on the couch as soon as the kids were in bed, leaving me to wrap all of the presents. I was furious.

When I finished everything, I shook him awake and made him climb over furniture to hang the stockings. One year, he made it to number five before he fell headfirst over the couch and tore the skin from the entire length of his left shin. He must have been in terrible pain, but didn’t dare yell out and wake the kids. He continued to hang the last stocking on the wall while bleeding profusely. After this, we went to bed.

We woke to lots of squeals in the morning at around 5am. With about four hours of sleep, we joined in their delight. But we were stumped when they asked why there was blood on the floor and how Dad’s leg got hurt. Without missing a beat, my husband said: “The reindeer kicked me.” Even the older kids were enthralled with that answer. And when they asked later how it really happened, we promised to tell them on their 21st birthdays. Every single one of them has waited for that precious moment to find out what “really happened”, so we’ve had many years of joy from that one moment.

Marty, from Sydney: My kids love the lights and tinsel. That’s enough

We go camping (it’s summer in Sydney) and pretty much ignore Christmas. My kids love the lights and tinsel. That’s enough. One of our first Santa encounters was with three breakdancers in a shopping mall wearing Santa fat-suits. My daughter was terrified. There’s really no point in extending the myth after that. Thanks, boys, you made it easy.

I was raised in the Bahá’í faith, but consider myself agnostic, and my wife is from the former Czechoslovakia, where most of the population are atheist and there is no Santa. It’s a bit ridiculous to watch grown men in the middle of summer pile on the heavy suit, boots, hat and fake beard – they must shed half their weight in sweat.

 

‘My kids love the lights and tinsel. That’s enough.’ Photograph: Marty

Jennifer Gibson, from Melbourne: We send our son a personalised video from Santa each year

We get our son to write a letter to Santa each year. But we always stress it’s just a wish list and he may get other things instead. We also have an advent calendar that we fill ourselves and he can open a door every day with tiny gifts of chocolate, polished stones, key chains etc. We have an outdoor and an indoor tree, too, so it’s Christmas wherever you look.

We also use an app called Portable North Pole to have a personalised video from Santa detailing what our son has done well this year and what still needs a bit of work. We show this to him a couple of weeks before Christmas. It works really well, and when we play it our son nods and shakes his head along to all the questions and statements about his year. On Christmas Eve we leave Santa a scotch and the reindeer a carrot or an apple on a table by the tree. Finally we check online to see what time Santa leaves the North Pole and how far he has reached before our son goes to bed.

Our son has a lot of questions, so we use euphemistic and vague language to deflect them. He will ask things like: “How does he deliver all the presents in one night?” To this we say: “All I know is that kids get presents and adults don’t, so maybe when you stop believing you stop receiving.”

Last year he was six, and he decided not to write to Father Christmas because he says Santa should know what he wants. We suggested he not take the risk and write anyway but he declined, until bedtime on Christmas Eve when a bit of panic had set in that he might get nothing. This year he says he’s going to write and has made no mention of not believing – so while he goes along with it, so will we.

Santa just leaves a small stocking filled with little items, and the big-ticket items are from us. This is mainly to keep Santa’s gifts more equitable with families who have less. Also, why should the big fella take credit for our hard-earned cash?

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By |2016-12-21T00:08:57+00:00十二月 20th, 2016|文艺杂文|0 Comments

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父母的美好谎言:“圣诞老人不存在”?

圣诞老人,一个童话传说中的人物,在历史中似也有据可查。但当这个童话被一遍遍讲述,这个传说一代一代延续时,“圣诞老人”就已经成为一个国家文化不可或缺的一部分。

警告:本文可能对幼童世界观造成暴击,未满12周岁儿童请在家长指导下谨慎选择是否阅读

圣诞节近在眼前了,几乎每一个西方家庭的父母都会告诉孩子:平安夜晚上,会有一位穿着红色套装的白胡子老爷爷偷偷到家里来,留下你们想要的礼物。这已经是圣诞节的文化传统,几乎每一个西方人在孩提时都对圣诞老人的存在深信不疑。

英国学者克里斯托弗·波义耳(Christopher Boyle)与澳大利亚学者凯西·麦凯(Kathy Mckay)表示担忧——孩子们如果过分相信圣诞老人的存在,将来可能会觉得被父母欺骗,从而产生不信任感。

对此,我们询问了几位家长的想法。对于拆穿圣诞老人这个童年的谎言,他们是否会犯难?或者他们会否认为,明白“圣诞老人不存在”相当于孩子的一种成人仪式呢?

阿尔弗雷德·皮尔斯·华特(Alfred Piers Walter),69岁,来自法国普罗旺斯区:每年圣诞夜我们都雇人来扮演圣诞老人

我家三个儿子,是1988到1990两年间一连串生下来的,三兄弟年龄很接近。也就是说圣诞节是我家的一件大事。在最小的儿子满11岁之前,我每年都“雇”一个圣诞老人来看他们。每年他们都会把自己想要的东西列一个清单,那些单子我们家现在都还保存着。

雇一个“圣诞老人”的价格倒是不贵,不过每年“圣诞老人”的质量参差不齐。有的精心准备,有的连胡子都很假,服装也不好。其中有一个“圣诞老人”特别厉害,他本人60岁左右,演得十分逼真,就跟童话世界里走出来的一样。他甚至还杵了一根装饰精致的木头拐杖。直到现在我都怀疑他会不会就是真正的圣诞老人。

“圣诞老人”每次来大概会呆一个半小时,从他的大口袋里拿出礼物来给孩子们。孩子们都兴奋得不得了。后来我们觉得不能每年都雇“圣诞老人”了,于是我们以圣诞老人的名义给孩子们寄了一封信,说他以后不能来了,因为更小的孩子更需要他。孩子们并没有因此不高兴,他们能理解。

现在我的儿子们都已长大成人,我们再没谈起圣诞老人了。但是哪怕他们都长大了,我们也不会告诉他们那些都是假的,否则会破坏他们心中美好的童话。我其中一个儿子现在自己也当了父亲。我想,他会延续这个传统,继续给他的孩子讲“圣诞老人”的故事。

安德鲁(Andrew),58岁,来自英国苏格兰因弗戈登镇:我家孩子们倒是觉得,那些假装真有圣诞老人的父母才比较奇怪

我们家不会特意挑个时间让孩子们坐下来听我们解释圣诞老人不是真的。我们一开始就不会骗孩子说有圣诞老人,我们也一样不会骗他们说蝙蝠侠和《玩具总动员》里的伍迪警长是真的。也没人因为这个就说我们不是好家长。

图片来源:来自因弗戈登市的安德鲁(Andrew)

“我们一开始就不会骗孩子说有圣诞老人,我们也一样不会骗他们说蝙蝠侠和《玩具总动员》里的伍迪警长是真的。” / 图片来源:来自因弗戈登市的安德鲁(Andrew)

每次听说我们家这个情况,别人总会大吃一惊。圣诞老人的传说太普及了,似乎很少有人会这样不走寻常路。有人甚至说,“不相信圣诞老人的孩子,圣诞节也不会有那么多乐趣。”

这话显然对我们家不适用。我们度过了不少精彩的圣诞节。2004年,两个孩子分别9岁和6岁,我们决定在印度南部的一片柚木林中度过那年的圣诞。我们家每个人都在当地搜寻给其他家人的礼物。圣诞当天,孩子们获得了几个木陀螺、一些糖果、一本漫画,以及骑在大象背上漫游丛林的机会。直到现在他们都说那是他们度过的最好的圣诞节。那次丛林之行是我们为期六个月的环球旅行的一部分,到圣诞节时,孩子们已经是颇为“老练”的旅行家了。生活可以换种方式来过,寻常人家在圣诞树下堆放礼物的行为,在我们看来倒有些古怪了。

除开在外旅行的几次,大部分的圣诞节我们还是在家过的,轻松简单。我们会把一小袋小玩意儿(一些小玩具、巧克力币、无核小蜜橘)放在孩子们的床边。在家过圣诞时的这些礼物不会太奢侈,也不会显得他们和同学格格不入。

现在两个儿子都长大了些,我们跟他俩说过,以后也不要假装有圣诞老人。就这样,他们倒是觉得那些精心守护这个谎言的父母比较奇怪。

马蒂(Marty),来自悉尼:我的孩子喜欢那些彩灯彩带,这就够了

悉尼的12月是夏天,大夏天的,看一个人身穿厚重的红棉衣、靴子,戴着帽子,贴着假胡子,总感觉哪里不对。而且那会儿我们一般都在野营,基本忽视了圣诞节。我的孩子倒是很喜欢圣诞节的那些彩灯和金箔纸彩带,那就够了。

图片来源:马蒂(Marty)

“我的孩子倒是很喜欢圣诞节的那些彩灯和金箔纸彩带,那就够了。” / 图片来源:马蒂(Marty)

我们第一次遇见“圣诞老人”是在一家商场里,有三个小伙子穿着圣诞老人的肥大服装大跳霹雳舞,我女儿因此受到了惊吓……这之后,就没必要再跟她讲圣诞老人的童话了。谢谢了!那三个小伙子,你们把问题简单粗暴地解决了。

我生长在信仰巴哈伊教的地区,我本身是不可知论者(认为世界除感觉和现象外是不可认识的——译者注),我妻子来自前捷克斯洛伐克,那里的大部分人都是无神论者,也没有“圣诞老人”的传统文化。

罗博(Robbo),53岁,来自澳大利亚墨尔本市:我丈夫说“我被驯鹿踹了”

我们家有六个孩子,现在他们已经成年了。过去每到圣诞节我们总是大费周章——要把事先藏好的礼物取出来,包装好,塞进圣诞袜里,然后挂起来。圣诞前夜,六个孩子会睡在同一个房间,闹个不停,大一点的孩子要费好大劲才能把小一点的哄去睡觉。

“过去每到圣诞节我们总是大费周章——要把事先藏好的礼物取出来,包装好,塞进圣诞袜里,然后挂起来。”

等孩子们都睡下了,我和丈夫会把礼物包好,之后我俩通常会小酌一杯。有一年圣诞夜,他早早喝了酒,孩子们一上床,他也在沙发上睡下了,留下我一个人包装所有的礼物,这可把我气坏了。等我都弄好以后,我把他吓醒,让他爬上家具去挂圣诞袜。

有一年,他刚挂好第五只,却不幸头朝下摔下了沙发,整条左小腿的皮都被蹭破了。他一定痛得要命,但怕吵醒了孩子,又不敢叫出声来。他忍着痛继续把最后一只袜子挂好。做完这一切后,我们才上床睡觉。

第二天清晨,大约5点,我们被一阵喧闹吵醒。我们来到兴奋不已的孩子们身边,他们问起为什么地板上有血,爸爸的腿怎么受伤了,我一时语塞。我丈夫面不改色地回答:“驯鹿尥蹶子踹了我一脚。”这回答就连最大的孩子也没怀疑。后来他们又问当时的具体情形,我们只好答应到他们21岁生日时告诉他们。孩子们都很期待那一天的到来,到时就能知道具体怎么回事了。后来真相大白,这事被我们调笑了许多年。


意外的是,在原新闻的评论区,译者发现了最精彩的一段话,决定加入译文中,作为对升华主题的结尾。

来自 经济学人网用户 acertainpointofview, 发表于2016-12-02 20:28 :

圣诞老人是真的存在!每个圣诞节,全世界成万上亿的孩子从睡梦中醒来,看见礼物和可爱的家人就在身边,这不是圣诞老人的精神又是什么呢?“他”悄悄潜入每家每户,巧施魔法给孩子们留下一段弥足珍贵的回忆。

他是真的,因为每一年我们让他成为了真实的存在。通过我们的行动与慷慨之心,每份相赠的礼物、每个上扬的微笑、每位为了让孩子度过惊喜一日而默默付出的父母、每个善行、每句善言……尽管让人悲哀的是还有许多孩子会在贫穷、疾病或战火中度过这个圣诞。但这并不意味着圣诞老人不存在,而是我们这些本应成熟的成年人,已经忘记了去守护他所象征的价值。

我们生命中真正的无价之宝——善意、友谊、爱。没有重量与大小,也无法用数字衡量。这些东西不是能被北美防空司令部的雷达追踪到的具体物质(北美防空司令部数十年来有个传统,每逢圣诞都会利用高科技追踪圣诞老人的具体方位,译者注),但这丝毫不代表它们不存在,或是不重要。

有人说,只有有人还相信圣诞老人,那么他就存在。我如今已接近而立之年,我依然相信他。我希望更多的成年人同样相信。祝愿所有人度过一个美好的圣诞节!【全文完】

 

原新闻地址:THE GUARDIAN

原作者:萨拉·马西(Sarah Marsh)

编译:杨璐

编辑:邓靖琪

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By |2017-03-11T18:46:08+00:00十二月 20th, 2016|文艺杂文|1 Comment

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kalenyimmy
人生没有第二次。尽己所能,尽己所能。 人生没有第二次。尽己所能,尽己所能。

很有人情味的一篇文章,本身也比较简单,所以翻译过程中也觉得趣味盎然,不觉辛苦。正好圣诞节也快到了,就以这篇文章作为本学期编译工作的句号吧。

One Comment

  1. Lindsay
    Lindsay 2016年12月21日 at 下午11:09

    圣诞老人的存在与否并不重要,重要的是我们所保持的童心。它代表着我们对于愿望实现的向往,所以,如果相信他的存在,就请继续下去。

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