Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Convicted: Santa

I hate moments like this. Moments when I'm being humbled or realized that I may have been wrong. You have to admit, we all have these moments, and mine, right now, is with Santa.

I was sitting here, in the five minutes of awkward silence listening to see if Isaac really went down for his nap or if he's still playing in there, and was adding other blogs to my blog roll, which I stopped to read one of the recent posts on a funny blog called "Stuff Christians Like" { http://stuffchristianslike.net/2010/12/the-santa-problem/#more-4154} titled The Santa Problem.

Now then, before I go on, you really, really have to go read his post first to understand where I'm coming from and where he's coming from. ...No really, go on, go read it first...

Ok, so I know that you're saying, "But I only have 5 minutes of peace and I'm going to trust that you'll just fill me in." And you're right.

I can't say it better than him, so I'm going to paste a bit of his blog here:

...The first is that in no other aspect of imagination do we put the same constraint [he's talking about Santa and Christmas]. For instance, for a solid year, I’m pretty sure my kids thought the Wiggles and the Doodlebops were real. They watched their shows, they sang their songs, they loved those brightly colored/oddly terrifying characters. And not once did my wife and I say, “When they find out Captain FeatherSword isn’t real, they probably won’t believe in an all powerful God later on in life.” Sure, the Wiggles are different than Santa and we imbue a lot of “belief” language around him, but we only talk about him for six weeks a year. We wiggled for a solid year and discussed the Wiggles far more than we do Santa in an average Christmas season...
...Kids are imaginative, that’s what they do. If I play along with their American Girl Dolls or take my oldest daughter to a Narnia film and she really believes it, I’m not afraid that I’ve effectively prevented her from believing in God. We’d never say, “I’m not taking my son to see Lord of the Rings, because if he ever finds out Gandalf is not real, he won’t believe in God.” We might rail against Harry Potter, but even that is not because we’re afraid if they find out Harry Potter is not real our kids won’t believe in God...
...No one says that. And we’re also not seeing the damage of a generation who grew up believing Santa was real only to learn he’s not. By that I mean there aren’t any books for adults designed to help you get over your Santa problems. Zondervan hasn’t published “Get the man in red out of your head.” Thomas Nelson has not published “Empty stocking, full heart.” Lifeway is not doing a ladies conference called “Deeper Still Than Santa.” There’s not an industry to support the thousands and thousands of 30 year olds struggling with Santa Claus, because there are not thousands and thousands out there who do.
Now clearly this will be the moment I hear from the 17 people on the planet who have in fact confessed to a Christian counselor that Santa Claus shotblocked God for them, but I still think we’ve blown the problem with Santa out of proportion. I think most folks will say that the Santa vs. God thing isn’t an issue, but instead that they don’t want to “lie” to their kids. I understand that point and know that some kids have said “you lied to me mom and dad,” but we also have to be careful that we don’t miss out on the word “pretend.” I’d never say to my kids, “I don’t want to create a house of lies. I need to be honest with you and confess that My Little Pony is simply a lump of hard plastic not a real pony, when I did that magic trick and took your nose, I really didn’t take it, and I always know the end of your knock knock jokes but have been living a lie by acting like I didn’t all these years. To be perfectly honest with you, ‘Knock, knock, who’s there, a tornado of spanking’ is not that funny. I fake laughed. I hate to say that, but I refuse to lie to you kids.”
I think every parent needs to be deliberate and smart about how they handle Santa and Christmas in general, but lets not throw him under the God bus. Don’t talk about him for a million other reasons, but I’m not sure the God reason is the best one.

I have to admit that I was one of the people who was saying, "Why would we teach our kids to believe in Santa or the Easter Bunny who aren't real, then turn around and expect them to believe in God, who is real?" Yep, that was me up until about ten minutes ago. But this guy had a really, really good point: Kids have imaginations and playing pretend is important to their creativity and development, and this is just another form of that. We don't expect our children to believe in their My Little Pony doll, and yet we let them play pretend with that, right? 

I still say that Santa is too hyped up this time of year and overshadows the true meaning, which is the birth of Jesus Christ. And for that reason, we will still be raising our children to know and celebrate that fact more than Santa {notice I did not say instead of Santa}. But I have lessened my views on the Santa thing I think. Please don't get me wrong, I was never a "run and tell everyone that Santa doesn't exist!" kind of person, but rather just wasn't going to focus so much on the chubby red dude. We will still choose to do Three Wisemen Gifts on Christmas morning (a gift for body, one for mind, and one for spirit that are a surprise on Christmas morning, much like the surprise of Santa gifts), but only because we want the emphasis on that day to be on our Lord. If Isaac ever wants to sit on Santa's lap and have his picture taken, then that's fine with me. If he asks who Santa is someday, then we'll explain who Saint Nicholas was, and how through the years Santa came to be. We won't run and tell your kids Santa doesn't exist, talk Santa down, or belittle anyone who does do Santa each year. It's your personal choice and one to be respected, and we know that it is a magical time of year with excitement and imagination for little ones...and old ones alike :). We're just choosing to keep the focus of our Christmas season on the dude who bled red for us instead of the dude who wears red on Christmas Eve.  But who knows, perhaps some year our little guy will wake us up and tell us he just heard reindeer on the rooftops! And if he does, we'll soak in the enjoyment of seeing our little guy's imagination grow bright before us :).


  1. Obviously, you've never seen Church Lady's indictment of the Santa issue:

    Church Lady: Hello, I'm the Church Lady, and this is "Church Chat". Well, you know, the holiday season has arrived. And, with it, a little letter from Toledo, Ohio. Let's read that, shall we?

    [ reading ] "Dear Church Lady: I am shocked at the number of people who bring their children to total strangers in Santa suits, and allow them to hold their young ones firmly on their pelvic regions, offer them candy and whisper, 'Don't be afraid to tell me what you really want!' What causes this mass hysteria?" Signed, Elaine.

    Well, Elaine, let's examine thew word "Santa", shall we? [ holds up board with "SANTA" spelled across it in removeable letters ] Santa. Let's see, what have we got here? We've got an S and an A, an N, a T, and another A. Hmm.. [ rearranges the letters ] Who could be causing all those laps to bounce up and down curiously? Who would help grown men peel the focus from the baby Jesus on his birthday? Who could it be, I just don't know. Could it be.. [ echo ] Satan!! [ the letters now spell "SATAN" ] "

  2. I was raised believing in Santa Claus and I don't think I'm scarred for it, but whatever is the point of it? My reasons for not teaching Santa Claus to our kids has little to do with my fear that my kids will learn I'm liar. After all, I teach Gabe that I am a liar and a sinner as part of our nightly routine. I don't teach them Santa Claus because I don't need anything else distracting him from an important message. He already has Astroboy and Kipper and Backyardigans and Care Bears. I don't need to add to all that the fat Coca-cola man who is more interested in rewarding good works than saving you despite your unworthiness regardless of works. This is particularly true when I have a hard enough time remembering the Reason for the Season myself.

    I guess I wouldn't scorn someone for teaching their kids about Santa, but I would actively discourage any parent considering doing so and find it disappointing when people do.