Monday, December 12, 2005

IN DEFENSE OF SANTA

IN DEFENSE OF SANTA: My humble reply to “NO SANTA FOR US” BY Justin Childers at his CROSS-eyed Blog. (I am also writing this because I want my presents – saying Santa is a fake only gets you a lump of coal.)

Santa is not all bad. I agree that the arguments made in the post linked above are solid and God-centered. My reply is more a footnote and a chance to link a great post. His main points are:
1. Santa has the tendency to obscure the true meaning of Christmas.
2. Santa is a lie.
3. Santa obscures the character of God.
4. Several more good points in the comments - they really are good reasons.

There are ways to "do Santa" that don't fall into those traps. Making Christmas a big deal (even without Santa) can distract us from the incarnation message. To make a clean break we need to move Christmas to another month. I don't really have the connections with Walmart to make that happen.

Imagination is normal for kids. My son was Aslan all weekend. Sometimes he’s Luke Skywalker or Frodo (Mr. Underhill if you’re a Black Rider.) Most kids will naturally transfer Santa to the pretend category by kindergarten. But playing Santa lasts for many more years. It's really the grown-ups who are into Santa. (Opps, I think I just weakened my case.)

Obviously, no one should build a tradition on lies. But to bleach the imagination out of your child’s life is wrong. Find a middle ground. Santa is not real – but can we pretend? Remember, Father Christmas even makes a cameo appearance in Narnia.

(Santa, if your reading this I actually do need new socks this year. But your can keep the neck ties.)

Clarification: By pretend I mean we "play Santa" with our kids. They know its pretend. I didn't mean that I am currently pretending that Santa is real. Even if it looks like it on this post. We pretend like Santa brings the stuff. But the gifts are from real people like Mamaw & Papaw. We don’t do the whole good/bad thing either.

9 comments:

Tony K. said...

By pretend I mean we "play Santa" with our kids. They know its pretend. I didn't mean that I am currently pretending that Santa is real. Even if it looks like it on this post.

justin said...

Good discussion Tony. I appriciate your humor.

I must say that I think there is a fundamental difference between kids "playing" various fictional characters and them believing Santa really leaves them presents and sees them when they are sleeping. I agree that we do not need to hinder our children's imagination. However, I draw the line at outright lies.

You also make good points about the celebration of Christmas at all.

Bhedr said...

I had an uncle who always preached against Santa. One day he went too far with us kids and preached from the pulpit that you could take the 'n' out of the middle of the word Santa and spell Satan. Talk about leading. Backward masking Santanic messages on those Santa Christmas records too I suppose.

Talk about using the imagination. I guess my uncle was using his that day. I think I might have heard a few men barking amen! although I can't remember as it may have been Rudolph the Beast running across the river styx screaming as Santa whipped him.

Shawn L said...

Thanks Tony. Your comment above should be in your post. I'd tend to not like Santa as there are many other things to pretend with and this one isn't helpful to most kids especially if you lie to them on this one.

I think there are some fundamental things wrong with telling your kids lies and not specifying it's pretend.

We don't do Santa, but we talk about the basic history of what he did (I haven't gotten to into the details) and stuff and pretend to give out gifts to people who need new shoes, etc.

We don't wrap up gifts at Christmas from santa though we just give them from us.

If I were you I would change your post again to specify that you don't lie to your kids and say it's true.

My parents did "Santa" and in their opinion if you don't lie to your kids then you aren't being a good parent "spreading the magic of Christmas". That confuses me and don't worry I know how to imagine all of the time with my kids.

Tony K. said...

Good comments all around. You guys (TNIV - people) have me thinking.

Someone made a good point about presents. I think our kids will remember the parts of Christmas they liked most. They will love what brings them the greatest delight. We say Jesus is the true meaning of Christmas. But we bait their joy with toys. Why are we surprised that they don’t believe us.

Bhedr,
Good point. There are some websites that make that argument.

Shawn,
Santa is a big issue in our children’s church this year. We have one family that does not do Santa. So their son comes to church mocking the other kids for believing a lie. Not what they were going for.

In our culture too many kids “worship” Santa. But the idolatry of stuff is much worse. We talk about idols of the heart. An idol is anything you love/want/enjoy more than God. Last year we had family worship on that topic before the presents. My son is learning to ask these questions about his affections even now. Sometimes he will say, “Dad, I love these logos but not more than God.”

Good conversation. Thanks

Shawn L said...

Tony,

You always have a great heart tony who sees these things. Totally agreed, but the lying aspect is still not a good thing to do. I think what you are doing is cool and not lying, telling it's pretend and such.

What is happening at children's church is a pharisee heart at home as well probably. We are so careful with our kids about saying we don't do santa but other people do, but we aren't better because we don't do santa.

A heart with idolatry is pretty rampant. Can't you see it everywhere and even in your own heart?.....I see it as I know my outward emotions are enthralled with a movie sometimes more than praying to God or reading His Word. I can tell because of the joy it produces isn't always there with the Word and prayer.

That's what we talk about all of the time as well. I hear my kids saying "Dad I want to love God so much more than strawberry shortcake". We also talk about what has our hearts and our affections. Do we look for the pleasures of sin more than the pleasure of knowing Christ? Give up your pleasures of sin for the joy set before you of knowing Christ.

Thankfully we realize and pray against this idolatry of our hearts so easily that it's a constant thing to talk about.

Bhedr said...

my uncles cousin doesn't believe in Christmas trees or even celebrating it. Yep ol cousin Larry is Plymouth Brethren. Always a dull moment with him, but I will say I enjoy the deep discussions but it drives my mom up a wall.

Ah folks, good words by all. I pray we all find the balance that only comes through constant communion with him.

I haven't ever told my kids to believe in Santa, but when they ask me if a kid at school tells them he is real, I say,No but we can make believe and St. Nicholas lived many years ago but is dead now. I hope that doesn't fall in the lying boat.

Tony K. said...

Shawn,
Idolatry begins at home. That’s why Deuteronomy 6 starts at home. Keep up the good work.

bhedr,
Plymouth Brethren – wow, that would be interesting. I am a little sheltered here in Indiana. There are some Amish communities. I am not sure what sect they are. Who would I email to find out?

Bhedr said...

You will find some among Mennonite communities but my Uncle is neither Amish nor Mennonite. The Brethren are strongly Monergistic.Mennonites and Amish are assumed to be Arminian and perhaps many of them are. I don't know any email sites.

The brethren should have come from puritan origins if I am not mistaken, but you will find them in differant places among differant people.