This may offend some people, and I am willing to take that risk for speaking out about what I think to be “The Santa Dilemma”.
In our American culture, the true meaning of Christmas over that last 150 years has been all but covered up. Christmas produces some of the most unhappy times of year and makes a liar out of the song writer who wrote: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”. This saddens me, because I truly do try to make it a happy time of year, but when I go driving to the mall, and get flicked off, yelled at and hum bugged at because I parked somewhere that someone else desired to, it drags ya down a bit.
I could go on about how Christmas spirit is slipping away, but we’re here to talk about Santa. Santa has been a hallmark for Christmas for some time now and I think that we have 3 choices when it comes to Santa: reject him, receive him or redeem him.
I think our culture has grown to love Santa to the deep level of not fully being able to reject Santa. Santa does have Christian roots. His is the story of a man who loved Jesus and loved the poor and because of his love for both he took some of his earthly wealth and during the year St. Nick gave presents to children who otherwise would have nothing. St. Nick didn’t spoil the kids with junk and expensive toys, nor did he know with magical powers who was naughty or nice. Neither could he fly or appear to the whole world in one night…those were the add-ons that should be rejected, but St. Nick himself shouldn’t be rejected.
I also think that we can’t fully receive him either. I’ve wrestled with this hard and long because I now have a child (and one on the way) who will soon start believing in such things. Do I want to lie to my children about an omnipotent, omniscient being who is fat, jolly and gives out tons and tons of toys, only to have them one day find out the truth and be crushed? I had to answer no. I don’t mind having my son sitting on Santa’s lap, or talking to him about the legend of Santa, or explaining how some of what Santa “does” is myth, I just can’t pass those things off as truth. I just can’t. If I am going to tell my son about Santa Claus and explain how he has similar powers to God and then later my son finds out that Santa is a fake, why would he then believe me when I talk about God? I actually had an atheist teen in my Youth Group ask me: “God sounds like Santa. Santa we say isn’t real, why should I believe God is real?” That got me to think about this Santa Dilemma pretty deeply.
A side from the lying…I don’t want to set my son up for getting crushed emotionally. One day he will find out there is no Santa and it will crush him when he does, I just don’t desire to be the one responsible for that kind of pain. Knowing that I for 4 or 5 years had lied to my son to only wait for the inevitable blow, and have the lights click on that Daddy had lied to him is too much for me to deal with. This sets up all kinds of loss trust and I am not willing to sacrifice my sons trust over a myth.
Santa can be redeemed! He, like I said believed in Jesus, lived a life of charity for those in need and those are Christian attributes to be encouraged in our children. Christmas is about Jesus and St. Nick would be appalled at what we have done to take the focus off of Jesus in his name. I am not talking about “taking away Christmas Spirit”; I’m talking about infusing the True Christmas spirit into the Season that is the Spirit of God.
Lastly, I desire to teach my children proper gratitude. If I get a gift for my child, I want them to know it was me who got it for them. I desire to be a good gift-giver to my kids so that I can the reflect how good our Father in Heaven is at giving gifts. If I say that Santa was the one who made and got these things for them, I have stripped them of proper gratitude because they will be thanking the air instead of their Father and Mother.
It pains me that many Christians put more emphasis on Santa than Jesus and many may think my view to be a “Scrooge’s Stance” but Christmas is about the Advent of Christ, realizing His gift to me was His life and resurrection and at his birth that chain of events started. Christmas isn’t about what I get, it’s about what I already HAVE…Jesus.
In conclusion, I want it to be known that I am in no way judging you for not holding my viewpoint on Santa Claus. I’m sure many of you will disagree and that’s OK. For me and my wife, we just can’t adhere to the Santa lie for our kids.
For more in depth conversation about this, check these two sites out:
Pastor Mark Driscoll on Santa— Pastor of a large church in Seattle, WA
Real Parents discuss Santa— Parents who struggle with this idea and voice their opinions