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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Santa Claus Is Not Coming to My House

There's something I've never been able to quite figure out. At this time of year you will find a whole host of movies, stories, and people who argue for the existence of Santa Claus. It's as if some folks believe that prior to the Santa Claus myth, "Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men" didn't exist. Now, to be fair, I suppose I can imagine why those who have no real belief in God or faith in Christ would need this tool. What I don't understand is the number of Christian parents that perpetuate this story to their children as if it is real.

Perhaps after this admission I have no right to comment, but that won't stop a blogger, will it? I grew up believing that Santa Claus was a fictional character. I was taught that he was modeled after Saint Nicholas, a historical character, and that the current Claus was an embodiment of all that Americans thought of as "nice" about Christmas coupled with some snazzy marketing from Macy's and the like. I even received gifts at Christmas marked "From Santa", but I never believed it was from Santa. That was Mom and Dad's way of giving us an extra gift, and we all knew it.

As a father of my own children, I passed on this same concept. You see, it was my belief that a parent should not intentionally lie to his children. And, further, it was my fear that if I did perpetuate a lie about a mythical character that brings good things to good children as if he was real, when my children discovered it was a fabrication, what would they think of my tales of a Savior born 2000 years ago offering salvation to children who believe in Him? So my kids grew up believing that Santa Claus was a fictional character and they understood that any gifts under the tree labeled "From Santa" were not actually from Santa.

I was somewhat surprised at the conflict this caused. When my sons went to a private Christian school (thanks to the generosity of a kind "Santa"), they told their friends at Christmas, "There is no Santa Claus." They were reprimanded by the teachers and complaints were filed by angry parents who didn't want some faithless child propogating this kind of truth on their children. The belief that Santa Claus was a real character rather than a nice story was imperative, and I was evil for suggesting to my children that this wasn't true. The next thing I'd be teaching my poor children was that there was no Easter Bunny! The nerve of some parents!

Santa Claus used to represent good things. He represented generosity and good cheer and caring for those who have little. That was his "origins". Today he represents getting and greed, a materialistic Christmas where I can ask for whatever I want and get it. There was always that "better be good" caveat, but who has ever really used that one? So we have shifted this "jolly" representative of good to so many bad things about our society ... and then get offended if someone denies his existence??

I've never been able to quite figure it out. Why do Christians try to convince their children that Santa Claus is real? Why do they offer a poor substitute (a lie) for the truth, which is the Gospel? I understand we wish to spare our children the harsh realities of the real world, so we don't pour all that out on them, but this isn't the same thing. A mythical Santa will not bring any good thing. How is it beneficial to continue that falsehood? I don't suppose that it's my task to correct the intentional lies parents wish to foist on their children, so I haven't made it my mission in life to tell children of all ages that there is no Satan Claus (ever notice that rearranging the letters produces a frightening result), but outrage aside, I won't be handing lies to my kids and call them "good".


Compassionate Conservative said...

I completely agree... My family never believed in Santa growing up. As my Mom said to my aunt "if I lie to my children about Santa Claus, how can they be sure Im telling them the truth when I tell them about Jesus?"

Jim Jordan said...

"if I lie to my children about Santa Claus, how can they be sure Im telling them the truth when I tell them about Jesus?"

Amen to that! Even worse, what if the consequence of perpetuating the Santa Claus myth was that deceived children would grow up to think of Jesus as just another Santa Claus? Could there be a link between the postmodern Santa Claus and the liberal Buddy/ prosperity gospel Jesus?

Julianne said...

My family did the Santa Claus thing and I did not believe them when they told me the truth about Santa. Even then, I liked those concepts so well, that I still believed in the Easter Bunny. It did not cause any harm in our family as far as believing my parents were always truthful or about who Jesus is. My parents were the most honest people I knew growing up and still are in the tops today.

However, in our family I have told my kids the truth and I guess it is because I am such a brat and joke around so much, they don't believe me that there is not a Santa, until they are around 8. I keep telling my 5 year old (almost 6) that I am the only Santa that brings him gifts and he laughs and laughs...he seems to think I am silly. I have shared the true story about St. Nicholas and how the concept of Santa came about. It does not matter...there is a Santa and mom is simply a brat that deserves to be punished by forcing her to eat worms (gotta love the discipline a 5 year old comes up with, thankfully I don't have to comply).

Stan, obviously you are not quite as much of a brat as you thought. Your kids knew there was no Santa.

I do love how when each of them get older they all find it amusing how they were sure I was just being a brat to them. I am thinking to video tape my son about this so we can giggle at this in years to come.

I do think that the entire idea of Santa and gifts galore has robbed Christmas of Christ. Yet when the 3rd century church fathers and on changed the intent of so many Scriptures, Christianized festivals that were not of God, began promoting celibacy as the only way into leadership or servanthood of Christ, etc...what did we expect? The church has still not recovered from all of that damage, we still hold onto many false ideas of the Roman/Greco empire.