Sorry to break the news to you but there is no Santa Claus, and no flying reindeer either. I’ll wait while you run for the tissue box. (And by the way, please don’t call the North Pole to tattle on me for this post... I don’t want coal in my stocking.)
My kids have been told from the beginning that there is no such thing as an all-knowing Santa Claus who sneaks into our house and leaves presents under our tree. They know that the guy in the mall is just that... a guy dressed up to represent another guy from long ago named Nicholas who gave away his wealth to those in need, particularly children. They know that Santa Claus is just a fun made up character who hands out candy canes from his throne in the mall. Before you lament my poor children for their scrooge of a mother, know this: it doesn’t matter that they know Santa isn’t real because apparently the Santa Claus myth is so deeply ingrained in our culture that my three year old does not even believe me when I remind him of the truth...
Jade and I were in the store a couple weeks ago playing with Thomas trains. He was having a wonderful time and got quite upset when I told him it was time to say goodbye to Thomas. He threw an all out, thrashing, screaming, waterworks fit right there in aisle 8 of A.C. Moore. I told him it was okay because he would be getting Thomas for Christmas in a few weeks, that “Momma Santa” would give it to him. “No he won’t,” he wailed, “He’s mean.” After a bit of back and forth about whether or not this particular train would be under the tree on Christmas morning I got terribly exasperated and shouted, “Jade, remember? I AM SANTA CLAUS! And I KNOW you are getting this for Christmas!” He looked at me through his tears and yelled back, “You are not Santa.” And so it went, with me tossing my dear child over my shoulder and heading for the door.
As you can see, we are not Santa sanitizers... I mean, his name does come up and we do tell the kids when they want something to put it in on their Christmas lists for Santa, wink wink. But we were very clear with them from the first time they saw the guy who he is and who he is not.
Christian parents get all weird on me when I say we don’t do the Santa hoax in our house... Really what harm is there in perpetuating the Santa Claus myth?
First of all it is a lie. A big lie. A big big big lie that gets bigger and more detailed as your kids grow in sophistication. And last I checked God still wasn’t into lying.
Second, it confers God’s characteristics... omniscience, the right to judge, supernatural abilities... onto a dead guy who through his unwavering generosity got sainted and made into a cultural icon. (And no, Santa is not an allegorical God and even if he were, the second commandment might be an issue ;-) It is also kind of hard to convince your children that the Jesus (they can’t see) part of Christmas is still true after they find out the Santa (they see everywhere) isn’t.
Next, it seriously detracts from the real meaning of Christmas. A visit from Santa becomes more important (and certainly more exciting) than the greatest birthday celebration of all.
And last... it goes against everything we teach our kids about strangers... Yes, Jade go hop on that strange guy’s lap and take candy from him... he’ll be sneaking into our house later this week...
So why do we do it and why do we get so upset when someone suggests that maybe we shouldn’t? That is not a rhetorical question... if you know the answer, tell me. Do you think Mary would have pulled the Santa lie on Jesus... “Guess what Jesus... you've been such a good boy that for your birthday this year, some made up magical guy in a red suit is going to fly in on a sleigh pulled by magical reindeer to drop off your birthday presents while you are sleeping... isn’t that nice?”
Get your own Jesus and Santa figurine.
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