What’s Wrong With Good Old Santa Claus (or even with Christmas itself)?

Hello and happy new year! I know this kind of late but with all of the Christmas busyness, I just never had time to devote to getting this blog post up but I do now,​ so here it is!

Ah, Christmas. You gotta love it–or not. Some folks really get into Christmas–the sights, smells and decorations and all that goes with it makes them happy, especially if they are Christians for they remember the reason for it all. Others see Christmas as a reason to get out their grinchy scroogieness and with that, all their petty disagreements​ with a jolly man in a red suit​. ​

When I was little my family did ​the whole Santa experience. We went to see the jolly man in the mall each year, we wrote out our Christmas letter to him and left it in our stockings for him to come pick up. He’d leave candy in my stocking all throughout the month leading up to Christmas. We’d draw him a picture sometimes and leave it in our stocking–which he’d replace with a candy cane and a note thanking me for the picture. So, when I got older and found out he wasn’t “real”, I was shattered–right? Nope. W​hen I found out that this man wasn’t real, I didn’t have an issue with it. My world didn’t come crashing down around me as I wondered what else wasn’t true​.​ This is merely a part of growing up. Santa isn’t real but that doesn’t mean the joy he brings isn’t​ real, the excitement of waiting for him wasn’t real, or​ the wonderful memories of sitting on his lap on cold December days aren’t real.

You see​ just because he isn’t a real person doesn’t mean we can’t take joy in him. ​If you didn’t do anything just because it isn’t real you ​would hardly do anything at all! I mean movies, books, TV shows, songs, fables, and games aren’t really real yet you enjoy them, right? Why? Because they make you happy or remind you of someone or something, or they evoke a feeling, help you to understand something or see it in a new light, or you are able to share them with someone you enjoy being with and to you that makes them very real. It’s the same with Santa.

​I recently heard someone say ​that if parents let their kids believe in Santa that when your child finds out the truth they’ll start second guessing Christ and wondering if they were​ lied to​ about Him​,​ also.​ Well, if you went about it all wrong that could happen but never for a moment did I ask that question. I didn’t suddenly think that my parents were liars or that I’d been misled. There are many ways parents build moral authority in a child’s life. Being there, being honest, being open and easy to talk to, allowing their children to express their doubts and fears or ask questions and being willing to answer them (even if they are sometimes uncomfortable) helps the child to trust their parents. Bedtime stories aren’t real but I loved them, too. Myths are part and parcel of our lives. Stories are and have been used for millenniums to convey truths. If you told a child that the stories, books, shows and movies about Santa are strictly real, then, yes, that would t confuse them and you’d be telling them a lie. But he doesn’t have to be presented in that fashion for him to be a part of Christmas.

I grew up loving​ the story about a man in a red suit with a great big bag of toys over his back, who came​ riding in a great big red sleigh with eight ​reindeer leading him through the dark cold night of Christmas Eve. When I was little, I just loved knowing that he cared about me and other children enough to do that. ​Even though little ones can’t see Santa,​ they believe in him​ with all their little hearts​. If Santa and all that goes with him is handled right, it helps with belief in other, far more important, things​. ​I​n my family and in so many others, he’s not presented as the myth presents him. There’s the stories and myths about Santa and then there’s our family stories​ about Santa. We were always told that Daddy was Santa–and that was, quite simply, the truth. We knew Daddy didn’t have eight tiny reindeer or live at the North Pole. We were never told that Santa lived at the North Pole, anyway or that the stories about him were strictly ​true. We were told that “people say” this or that about Santa or that “this is how the story goes” but it was never “now this is REAL”. Now, my Dad has a long white beard and that helps with the whole Daddy is Santa idea but I also know folks whose Dad look ​nothing​ like Santa and they tell their little ones that Daddy is Santa and it works for them just as much as it worked for us. We still enjoyed going to the mall, we still rejoiced in the wonder of it all and, yes, we still remembered that Jesus was the reason for Christmas even though we knew He wasn’t born on Christmas.​

Some say that’s it’s replacing Christ to have Santa be a part of Christmas but I think that is entirely untrue.​ Santa is a m​yth​ but his story points to the greater story–in fact, it points to the greatest story of all​. Why does Santa give gifts on Christmas? Why do we? Because God is a gift giver and He gave us Jesus. ​Christ is the meaning, the center of, the reason for CHRISTmas. I like what Dr. R.C. Sproul said on the subject: ​“Doesn’t Santa Claus paganize or at least trivialize Christmas? He’s a myth, and his very mythology casts a shadow over the sober historical reality of Jesus. Not at all. Myths are not necessarily bad or harmful. Every society creates myths. They are a peculiar art form invented usually to convey a message that is deemed important by the people. When a myth is passed off as real history, that is fraud. But when it serves a different purpose it can be healthy and virtuous. Kris Kringle is a mythical hero, not a villain. He is pure fiction — but a fiction used to illustrate a glorious truth.” 

We let ourselves worry so much about letting something replace Christ that we let that worry replace him. ​The grinchy scrooginess (or scroogie grinchiness if you wish!) comes out and everyone is​ cocked and ready to fire any time anyone dares ​challenge their disbelief in Santa or even in Christmas itself.

​Debates ensue, people fight and grumble, and the disbelievers even go so far as to tell the celebrators that they are sinning or maybe even going to hell for their celebration of Christmas or for daring to mention the “S” word. Christmas isn’t a time to be breaking down doors because we’re offended. Christmas is a time to remember, to behold and take great joy in the greatest ​G​ift of all. If we try to have Christlike hearts towards our fellow men, if we hold Him above all ​other​ gifts, then He’ll never be taken out of Christmas;​ He’ll be at the center of it and our hearts. Then we can be free to celebrate Christmas because we remember Christ.​

I hope y’all had a very Merry Christmas and a​re having a​ happy New Year! I’ll try to have my next post out soon.

God bless,
Tatiana

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