[To read a blog on the history of Santa Claus click here]
Recently, my wife was taking our son, who turns two and a half on Christmas Day, through the checkout. In that tone by which adults can sometimes speak to young children, the cashier asked my son, “Have you gotten your letter off to Santa already? What did you ask for?” He stared at her with a blank look, he didn’t know what she was talking about, not because he couldn’t understand her but because he—intentionally—hasn’t been taught about the modern myth of Santa. My wife respectfully responded to the cashier, “we don’t celebrate Santa, we remember Jesus’ birth at Christmas.” The cashier looked somewhat confounded by my wife’s answer; that a child would be deprived of the happiness of believing in such a myth, however, as my wife was respectful the conversation ended—though somewhat awkwardly on her part—with politeness and a seed being sown for her to think about.
Is such a view being too Grinch like or is their wisdom in such a view?
I for one was part of the syncretistic Christian culture of past decades that fused Jesus and Santa together. I cringe to remember that our local church even brought Santa into the church for the service. To the contrary my wife’s family grew up not teaching her and her siblings about the myth of Santa, instead focusing on the real meaning of Christmas. When my wife told her friend (who happened to be my 2nd cousin) that Santa wasn’t real, she burst into tears and my wife ended up in the principal’s office with a call home to her mom!
As a maturing Christian, and now a parent, I’ve moved from how I was raised to the view my wife and I hold today: to not perpetuate the culturally embraced myth of Santa but focus on the real reason of Christmas. We don’t do this in a Grinch like spirit and so far from spoiling joy for our son, his joy is made complete.
Here are three reasons why we don’t teach him the myth of Santa (there are many more):
Come on ring those bells,
Jesus is the King,
Born for you and me.
Come on ring those bells,
Jesus we remember it’s your birthday.
How do we celebrate Christmas with our son? We tell him about Jesus and the Christmas story and the Gospel. We explain that all of the adornments of Christmas (greenery, goodies, etc) are all to help us celebrate the Incarnation. We give him gifts, in love, from mummy and daddy, and say that we give gifts because God gave the greatest gift of all, His Son. And that is something worth celebrating!
Author: Chris Crocker
Pastor, historian and beekeeper.
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