Sunday, December 08, 2013

Normal or not?

People are often surprised (and some of them are even almost offended) when I tell them that I have never in my life life believed in Santa Claus.

Maybe you're surprised too. Maybe you've never heard of someone, a normal American who was a normal kid in a normal Christmas-celebrating family, who didn't ever believe in Santa. I can understand that. Most kids do believe in Santa at some point. It just happens that I didn't, and (as far as I know) neither did any of my siblings. I don't know whether or not my parents believed in Santa when they were kids, but I do know that when we were kids, they chose not to make us believe Santa was real.

Again, people are not only surprised to hear this, but they sometimes act almost like they're offended. "But believing in Santa is fun for kids!" they say. Well, I have news for you: Christmas is fun for kids. I still got presents, I still wondered all December what kinds of things I'd get on the 25th, I helped decorate the tree. Christmas was my favourite time of year, Santa or not.

I've gotten the same kind of surprised reaction about other things too, such as "You haven't LIVED until you've worn makeup!" when I was 16. Well guess what. I wore makeup for the first time when I was 19 (I had to, for a play I was in), and it wasn't that great. Everyone told me how great a job my friend had done putting it on me, but I thought I looked like a clown. Since then, I have occasionally worn mascara and eyeliner, and even though I really like the way it looks, I can't say I hadn't lived until then. So when you give me your but-this-is-fun or you-haven't-lived-until, what I'm hearing is You can't possibly have fun if you aren't interested in doing the same things that I do. I know that's not what people mean, but that is what I hear.

For me personally (and this was probably the same reasoning my parents had), if I ever have kids, I'm not going to purposefully tell them, and lead them to believe, something that I know is in fact not true. I don't judge parents who do let their kids believe in Santa: most parents do, it's pretty harmless, and yes, I assume it is fun to write letters to Santa and leave him cookies and wonder what he'll bring you. I don't judge you for it, so doesn't it seem a little backwards that people judge me and/or my parents for not going along with all that?

So tell your kids there's a Santa. Or don't tell them. Do whatever. They're your kids, not mine. I'm not trying to persuade you one way or the other. All I'm trying to do, really, is get you to stop and think: if someone doesn't like/want/do something considered "the norm", should it be a big deal to me? Is that person angry? Cynical? Rebellious? Lonely? Looking for a friend? Or do they just not like the thing, simply because they don't like it?

I don't care that much for makeup. I don't even currently own any. I don't own any consumable hair product besides shampoo and conditioner. I don't want an engagement ring. I don't want a public proposal. I usually don't like wearing dresses. I liked Legos and GI Joes when I was kid, and almost never played with dolls. I don't use an umbrella when it's raining. I don't care about tanning. I don't see what's so great about Mr Darcy. I don't care which celebrity is having a baby with another celebrity, or which one looks good in a bikini. I don't like spaghetti.

Am I weird? Perhaps. I like to think that I am. I also like to think that despite my weirdness, or perhaps through my weirdness, I'm really just a normal kid who likes to have fun.

I like sewing. I'd rather make something, if I can, than buy it. I plan to wear Chuck Taylors at my own wedding. I am okay with being pale. I still like Legos even though I'm 23. I'm right-handed but I wear my watch on my right wrist. I like Jane Austen and Shakespeare and other classics, as long as it's not Wuthering Heights or Beowulf. Despite being 23, I jump in puddles and walk on curbs and the cement bumpers in parking spaces because, yes, it's fun! I can play volleyball for hours on end. I like eating pizza and omelets and messy burgers dripping messy things like barbecue sauce. I make up words like 'funner' and 'costed' and use them like they're real words. Despite the stigma among the older-than-13 crowd of anything remotely associated with Twilight, I love The Host and it's one of my favorite books. I can confidently go into town wearing sweatpants. I like walking in the rain.

I know people who don't like chocolate. I know people who choose not to eat meat. I know men who wear pink or purple just like any other colour, and I know people who hardly wear any colour besides black. I know people who spell colour with a U even though they're American. I sometimes use the U and I sometimes don't. I've known guys with hair longer than mine. I know people who go along with the Santa thing, and some who don't. I know someone who's obsessed with London, and with England in general. I'm obsessed with France, and anything in French or that takes place in France.

So. Are they normal? Am I normal? Are you normal? I say no. We're all different, we believe different things, we all have our own values/joys/wishes/hopes/regrets/dreams/abilities/inabilites/priorities. We're not normal, so believing or not believing something makes me no less normal than you. I say we're all weird, and in our weirdness, we're really all just normal kids.

[On a side note, some families don't even celebrate Christmas. I'd like to see you tell them, "But it's fun for kids!"]

1 comment:

  1. I was gonna comment about how weird you are for spelling "colour" with a U. But then you did. So nevermind.