What we do about Santa
Wow, haven't posted anything in over a month!!
So, I'm starting again with a bang on two big topics: Santa and Jesus.
And I'd like to be sorry for the forthright nature with which I write, but in this age of namby-pamby political correctness, I just can't. So I'm sorry about that!! :)
So here it is, my deliberately politically uncorrect and completely truthful, forthright post. Enjoy!
The Santa thing is an interesting phenomenon, isn’t it? His origins lie in tales of jolly ol’ St Nicholas, leaving presents under trees for poor children……but sadly, also in Coca Cola wanting to boost sales, so portraying him in the world-famous red-and-white suit.
As a child, I never even questioned the whole Jesus v Santa thing. Yeah, OK, I was extremely easy-going, quiet…and yes, gullible! I found out Santa wasn’t real when I was six. We were standing there in a group and one little girl said, “No, Santa’s not real!”. And being the innocent, gullible little person I was, I felt shocked!
But it was proven that fateful Christmas eve when my parents took our presents out of the cupboard in the hallway right outside our bedrooms about two minutes after lights out! I wasn’t particularly upset, but a bit confused for a while before I promptly forgot all about it.
It wasn’t until I got to uni age that I realised that some Christian friends weren’t going to tell their children about Santa Claus. That certainly got me thinking!
At first, I didn’t like it when my friends said they weren’t going to do the Santa thing. I thought it was just a bit of fun….y’know, Santa’s friendly and brings presents, etc, etc. Why not?
When we finally had our own children years later, we never really made a conscious decision on the whole Santa thing. But my take on it changed. Jesus said, “If you’re not for me, then you’re against me.”. Jesus makes it pretty clear that he hates lukewarm attitudes and choices; one foot in sea, one on shore, never wanting to fully commit, choosing a bit of stuff from here, a bit from there….a faith supermarket! If we allow our children to believe in Santa, it’s not helping their faith in Jesus. And if it’s not for their faith, it’s against their faith in Jesus.
In light of that reflection, we’ve decided never to push the Santa thing. We prefer to talk about Jesus’ birth at Christmas. However, our children, of course, are exposed to Santa at school and kindy and at almost all the shopping centres everywhere in the western world and by almost all their friends.
But a really cool thing has happened: Santa is only present in the childrens’ minds in the lead-up to Christmas. He visits kindy and school and church. He brings them a book and looks jolly. Of course, we talk about Jesus lots in the midst of the Christmas wind-up. But from Christmas Eve onwards, it’s all about Jesus. We go to church and talk about God’s precious gift of a newborn baby….a baby who would grow into a man and walk amongst us to show us how to lead a good life pleasing to Him.
We don’t have presents from Santa and we don’t read stories about him, except the ones that happen to be true: those about St Nicholas, of course!
Every family is different: I’ve got Christian friends whose children say to their peers in regards to Santa, “My parents don’t lie to me!” and I’ve got Christian friends who leave the beer/milk/OJ/bikkies/carrot/fruit cake/whatever out for Santa and let their children believe in him for a bit. I’ve heard Christians say that ‘Santa’ also spells ‘Satan’!
I’ve heard many people say that ‘Christianity is the biggest mass delusion ever’…..but I would have to say that the Santa phenomenon is the biggest delusion I have ever seen. Anywhere. And it’s not just a cute lie, it propels millions of parents around the world to spend millions upon millions of dollars each year on gifts for their children and extended family.
The Santa phenomenon propels TV stations to broadcast Santa ‘leaving the North Pole’ on Christmas Eve….for the kids…..Santa is the reason children can’t sleep on the eve of December 24th each year. Movies have been made about the jolly man in red which are repeated every year on TV….books depict his ‘magic’ ride around the world into every chimney…… millions upon millions of parents use the ‘Santa won’t come to visit you this year if you’re naughty!’ line with their rambunctious children for this made-up man in red…..it’s this huge, massive movement which millions delude themselves and their children about EVERY SINGLE YEAR!
Tragically, Santa steals from the real joy of Christmas. And it is this: Jesus Christ came to earth as a tiny, helpless baby. He lived as a human being here on earth. He wasn’t born in a huge palace, like you’d expect a God or King to be born, but in a shed with animals. He knows what it’s like to be poor and have nothing. People ‘talked’ about Joseph and Mary behind their backs since Mary was pregnant before she and Joseph were married. Try doing that in a small country town in those days! The gossip! He had brothers and sisters, a mum and a dad. He was just like you and me, had the same problems that we humans do……..except He was God-in-flesh.
His message was so simple, but so powerful: Love God, love others as you’d like to be loved (we do say, ‘Forgive us, as we forgive those who sin against us’ in The Lord’s Prayer, don’t we?). How awesome would this world be if we all treated each other how we would like to be treated?
Jesus brought with Him to earth a way to save your soul from every sin you have ever committed. He came to earth so that we could have a relationship with God, who created the universe. All you have to do is choose to accept the completely free but completely life-saving gift of eternal life with God in heaven.
Jesus also said that Christians are to be ‘salt of the earth, light in the world’, which means, basically, we are to be in the world, but not joining in with whatever the world is doing.
For us and our family, this means accepting that it’s inevitable that they’re going to have Santa shoved in their faces. Santa for us is a rather unnecessary (and to be honest, annoying) figure which is inserted into our life at Christmas. But Santa isn’t something we get our back up about with people who choose to ‘do’ Santa.
We’re not the Santa-police, getting stuck into our children’s teachers about it or announcing to our children’s friends that Santa isn’t real. Our children are allowed to be in the world, but we prefer to focus on Jesus, the real miracle, joy, hope and peace at Christmas.
What do you do in your family about the jolly ol’ man in red?