06 December 2006

more obsessing over Torchwood, and pondering Father Christmas

"Creu Gwir fel gwydr o ffwrnais awen. In these stones, horizons sing." The Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay, Wales.

I wasn't sure if this place was real, or just something that the artists had created for the Torchwood series (a confusion which I understand is probably rather insulting to the Welsh--but please forgive me; State-side news about other countries is garbage, and it tends to lump all of the UK into "London"). The Google Maps programme is also to blame for my confusion, for if you look up Cardiff Bay on Google Maps you'll easily find the Oval Basin, but only a field of dirt or gravel where the WMC is supposed to be. Obviously, the overhead view is terribly out-of-date.

Anyway, the background shot of the Centre felt far too genuine to be fake, so I ended up pausing during episode seven or eight to read the words written on the building--half Welsh, half English. Then, through the powers of web searching, I discovered that the place was in fact real and there.

It makes me happy; I've done some reading, and I know that the Centre has been met with critical acclaim by the Welsh, but I think it's one of the more striking and beautiful examples of modern construction.

And I particularly like the view from the roof that we see in the first episode of Torchwood (though one probably isn't allowed to be up there in real life).


Today's Holidaily prompt is to do with the Santa Claus myth--"Did you believe in Santa?" and "When did life deliver that soul-crushing blow, that Santa is in fact a myth?" and "Would you encourage your children to believe in Santa?"

First of all, my mother raised no dummy. By the time I was old enough to walk and crawl and snoop in every nook and cranny (always curious and surreptitiously getting into everyone's business, I was), I had determined that "Santa" was actually Mum and Dad. For one thing, sitting on a stranger's lap was abhorrent to me (I never liked shopping-mall Santas or clowns or anything of the kind; they terrified me); so I could hardly envision a stranger leaving me presents. Would I have wanted them?

I learned very early on that Christmas presents came from family and friends, not strange elderly men with an obesity problem. My first recollection of making this connection was in finding a large stuffed Big Bird doll in a closet in my mother's sewing room a week or so before Christmas.

Some people might say that dispelling the Santa illusion ruins the holiday for children, but I don't think so. I never felt disenchanted--I just enjoyed the time differently and with a sense of enlightenment. I recall trying to share my enlightenment in pre-school and being reprimanded by my teachers. "Just because you don't believe in Santa, doesn't mean that he doesn't exist." This coming from my fallaciously black-tongued elders. I believe my response was something like: "Just because they believe Santa exists, doesn't mean that he does."

I didn't deal well with authority and was in trouble quite a lot in those days.

As adults, we still enjoy ourselves this season; knowing that Kris Kringle is a myth or long-dead Saint does not spoil the holiday for us. And I don't see how forcing a lie upon impressionable youth teaches them anything (except that lying is acceptable). My family always said, "Santa" and "Rudolph" and "North Pole"--never in any seriousness, but simply as an appeasement for tradition. And we still do. Because the trappings of Christmas--though entirely fantastical--are wonderful, and I have always loved to indulge in them. I think it's like that for many people.

Will I support the idea of Santa if I ever have children? I probably will when they're young, but once they figure it out (and I have every expectation that any child of mine would be shrewd enough to do just that in record time), I'm not going to try and "make it real" for them all over again. Children deserve the respect of truthfulness, especially if parents are expecting truth in return.

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