Ho, Ho, Hope?

Trees beset with jewels,

garland adorning window sills,

lights glimmering along the gutters,

markets filled with shoppers,

and there are children sitting, requesting.

 

He’s a harbinger of hope, generosity, and forgiveness.

He embodies sacrifice.

 

Santa?

Yes, this season of expectation—expecting deliverance—is all for naught in today’s American, consumerist culture.  I don’t see Christ in Christmas in our culture.  Maybe he’s not supposed to be.  Yet, he is supposed to be ever present in the life of a follower!  I’ve had Christian friends say that we can look to Santa as a representation for generosity, sacrifice, hope, and forgiveness.  I’ll admit, I cringed and continue to do so.

There isn’t anything inherently wrong with Santa.  It is a fun tale and giving in the name of another can be enjoyable.  To dress up and pretend in a land of make believe is fun.  However, when we somehow turn Santa, a benevolent saint of old, into a Christ image, we err.  I’ve read articles saying that it is innocent fun to have kids delight in Santa but going so far to say that he can be a practical means of representing what Christian morality stands for.  While this might be true in theory, I don’t see it and I’d be hesitant to say we should look to anyone as granting us true hope other than Christ.

A saint is just that, a saint.  A saint is not a Savior.  A saint should not be worshiped.  [I do not believe that praying to a saint for intercession on our behalf is something idolatrous.  I have seen devout believers in the Catholic faith.  There is something different between having an intercessor and praying to something.]  In today’s culture, it seems Santa is revered, often more so than Christ (even among followers…where the problem exists and where my efforts are focused on in this post).

Some Christian authors stated that Santa can show children what the application of Christianity is.  However, I don’t see children applying Christian morals with Santa.  Instead, I see greed.  Kids are making up wishlists and thinking about all the STUFF Santa is going to bring them (not others, but them).  If you ask them if they have been good, “Yes, Santa is going to bring me lots of STUFF.”  The principle of be good, he’s watching, has been tossed to the wayside and replaced with parents overlooking disobedience and rudeness because withholding good things from your children because they aren’t being obedient is seen as cruel.

I’m digressing a bit.

Santa was a saint.  I’m not dismissing that.  He was a great man and to respect him is admirable.  However, respecting his behavior conduct is different than believing he gives to all children, everywhere because they believe in him (used to be merit (good vs. bad, making a list checking it twice) based but is now to any kid who has desire).

It isn’t even wrong to hold Santa in high esteem, so long as we don’t say he can represent Christ better than Christ himself.

Out of personal preference, we aren’t going to give Willow gifts on behalf of Santa.  We personally want to focus on Christ this season.  Gift receiving is fun, but there is so much more to this season.  Friends have told me that Santa represents more than gift receiving.  He teaches us to give.  Yet, most kids I know aren’t giving to others because Santa does so.  Kids are expecting to receive from Santa.  Any giving performed is because we as parents say charity is important.  Maybe Santa was a hallmark for giving in years past, but I don’t see witness of it in today’s “me” obsessed culture.

I’ve been told I’m depriving Willow of this magical experience.

Depriving? 

If you mean we aren’t going to implement false belief than yes, we are depriving her.  I don’t like the word deprive though.  In my mind, it symbolizes a withholding of good things, even to the extent of harming an individual.  Am I harming Willow by not practicing Santa belief with her?  I am hesitant to think she is harmed or will believe she was harmed by not telling her Santa is a real man able to give gifts to all in one night.

We’ll still teach Willow who Santa was.  We are just choosing not to promote a false belief in him.  There is a far greater mystery story we can give to her during this time.  Santa is nice and he can make us feel fuzzy, warm, accepted.  Yet, there is a greater promise.  Someone far greater than Santa can offer the world something far greater than any material item Santa leaves under a tree.

We have a Savior.  We have a Redeemer.  We have EMMANUEL!

Remember expectation.  Just like the Jews awaited a Messiah who would deliver them (and did), we wait for Christ’s return when he will make a new heaven and a new earth.  We remember a God who willingly became a man to die for us on the cross.  In humility, he came to the world in blood soaked straw, not a glistening pole of the North.

So while my friends can argue that Santa can teach invaluable lessons, I ask them this, “Since when did Christ become insufficient?  When did the story of immaculate conception and delivery become dull?  When did the wonder and awe of God with us lose its luster?  When did we have to supplement Christ’s teachings with that of another?  When did Santa’s behavior become a more readily applicable than Christ’s?”

Yes, we can respect Santa and the kindness he bestowed on less fortunate children.  He can offer immense hope to the children who don’t know a greater hope. However, for those who are the offspring of believers, can’t we offer a more wondrous story?  Can’t we teach our children we don’t need to twist truths to make them more appealing?  We don’t need to manipulate tales to create beauty, awe, or curiosity.  We have a true God who is far more captivating than any historical figure or fictional character!

We have GOD WITH US!

Isn’t that a greater cause for celebration and remembrance than a wrapped, material gift for me?  Thus, I like to argue that we aren’t depriving Willow of Christmas magic.  If anything, we are giving her the experience and hope of a grand TRUE story.  We are giving her the best we can give her, we are teaching her a Savior came to the world—for the world, for us, for her.

We are giving her hope…a great hope…in Christ alone!

(By the way, Willow means great hope (I was recently told this).  Christine means Christ follower.  We are teaching Willow Christine that there is Great Hope as a Christ Follower.)

 

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2 Replies to “Ho, Ho, Hope?”

  1. This might be an interesting article for you to read (if you haven’t already): http://theartofsimple.net/st-nicholas-the-real-santa-claus/

    I thought the idea of celebrating Saint Nicholas on a separate day was a great way to talk about Santa without confusing him with Christ. It leaves Christmas day for Christ, but still teaches children about those lessons of generosity that many argue are the meaning of Santa (but I agree– it’s debatably in many circumstances where children don’t seem to be learning generosity but instead just want to talk about “I want, I want, I want.”) Because the reality is, Santa is very much around us at Christmas, so we do need to have a positive way to talk about him to children, even if we don’t want Santa to be the focus of Christmas. Children are going to ask about him!

  2. I agree Jamie. I want Willow to learn about such an influential character in history. I’m even okay with us pretending he exists as a magical being, so long as we distinguish between reality and pretend (Jesus is real, Santa flying around the world in one night is not). I just didn’t want her to believe in a lie and be greedy. I really liked the article you shared! Thanks so much. Perhaps Frank and I should try and find some gold coins to share at your Christmas party since St. Nicholas day is Dec. 19th on the Julian calendar. 😉 I do like the idea of doing that and I do want to inform her about who he was because she will ask. I think it is great to teach we can honor him and give generously like he did because he did it in the name of Christ. I just didn’t want the whole believe he’s a real magical being thing dominating our Christmas traditions. I do like the separate day idea though. That is really neat. Thanks so much!

    Oh and so cool that he participated in the Nicene Creed!

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