Tuesday, December 17, 2013


I'm hearing from a lot of Christian parents who think the idea of Santa Claus is baad. They think it is their duty before God to shield their children from this cultural fantasy. Not only is it an evil, worldly myth, children must then endure the trauma of finding out their parents lied to them about St. Nick. These parents are taking steps to ensure that the Santa hoax is expunged from the Christian record.

...Yeah. As Dr. Bill Hendricks my theology professor used to caution us; don't get your exercise jumping to conclusions. I think it is rash, perhaps even harmful, to deny for our children  something their friends and classmates are celebrating. But that is the least of my reasons for standing up for the Jolly Fat man. The original Nicolas of Myra was a Christian bishop in the fourth century.  His benevolent gifts and actions are the basis of the Santa myth. Saint Nicolas, in one form or another, is recognized and loved around the world. Even the Godless, communistic Soviets couldn't stamp him out. Far from denying him, we ought to celebrate Nicolas as a Christian hero. His life should be emulated, not excoriated. 

Don't get me wrong, I understand the problem. The modern world of consumerism has taken old Nicolas hostage and made him over in its own image. Like a red velvet glove over a gold-plated fist, Santa Claus has become the sock puppet mouthpiece for every kind of greed and selfishness. That's true. It's been true for generations. It's not like we have to agree with it, or slavishly buy what the advertisers are selling us.

Okay, but what about the fact that Christmas is about Jesus, not Santa. We should not allow our children's affections to be subverted away from the true Reason for the Season. Okay, I'll stipulate the last two statements. I agree. But there is something fundamental that's being missed here. Trashing Santa ignores the developmental realities of childhood. Children learn through play and fantasy. You think an imaginary Santa is bad? I assume that means your children do not have Batman or Merida pajamas. Oh, and I'm sure you don't let them waste time playing with toys either. It's just Navigators Discipleship courses from the age of three, right? You know what I'm saying is true. Be careful of stifling your child's imagination and creativity.

The Santa story teaches children about generosity and giving to others. You say Jesus teaches that too? Sure, but we still teach our kids about King David, Zacchaeus and George Washington. That argument is shallow. Children fantasize about tangible things to help them understand the intangible.

Dr. Hendricks related a story to his students from his first pastorate. A Woman in his congregation told him how she scolded her grandson for having an imaginary friend. "You don't have an invisible friend," she chided. "There's no such thing." Later, they sat down to lunch. After saying grace, she looked up to see her grandson studying her face. "Who are you talking to grandma?"


Post Script: Be honest, were you REALLY devastated and traumatized when you discovered the truth about Santa Claus? I doubt it. Fantasy play is like that.


Eric said...

Thanks for good words of reality.

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