Godbout (The World of the Gift, 47) wonders about the curious “abnegation” of parents who convince their children that Santa, not they, made and gave that mountain of presents under the Christmas tree.
One theory: “It’s as though the parents are trying to prove to themselves that they expect no gratitude for the gift, that they are not the ‘real’ donors, not the only ones at any rate, that the only thing that counts for them is the child’s pleasure, that they are giving only for the pleasure o fit, not even for gratitude. They accept the fact that this gratitude wll be directed towards an unreal individual, and they even arrange things so that this will be the case.”
Santa serves as a screen that allows parents to believe that they have given a disinterested gift, without any expectation of any return of any sort. Santa allows to transcend self interest and give a pure gift.
One doesn’t usually think of Santa and Derrida at the same time.
posted by Peter J. Leithart on Friday, June 29, 2012 at 3:51 pm
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