(Author’s note: I was going to open this post with a link to the famous South Park “Jesus vs. Santa Claus” video, but I couldn’t find a version with the dirty words edited out, and man, there are a lot of dirty words. Anyhoo, easy enough to find it, if you’re interested.)
Guilty confession: We do Santa at our house, but I have misgivings about it. In theory, I think it’s a great tradition. Dan Lord has a good post about it from a faith-based perspective, and I agree with it. I’m trying to like Santa here. But in practice it just feels kind of weird. On the one hand, I don’t want to associate Santa too closely with Jesus, since, well, one is more real than the other. On the other hand, it’s a constant battle not to let the guy with the shiny gifts overshadow the humble baby in the manger. As much as I try to emphasize Santa as Jesus’ helper, a Christian saint, etc. the pop culture images of him as THE AWESOME DUDE WITH THE INFINITE GIFT-GIVING POWER seem to trump in my children’s collective subconscious.
I’m not anti-Santa. I’m sure other families can pull this all off flawlessly. But, to be honest, sometimes I wish we’d started with some simple St. Nicholas Day traditions, and skipped the Santa stuff at Christmas.
I thought I was the only jerk in the world who didn’t want to make Santa the center of the Christmas tradition for my family.
We don’t have kids yet, but my wife and I talked about this very issue when we were in the amateur-psychoanalyst phase of our engagement, trying to find out all the weirdest quirks about each other. I thought mine was a pretty reasonable position: Give kids all the Christmas tradition they can stand, just don’t try to convince them that Santa Claus is a real person. My wife, along with most of the other people who knew about it, thought this position meant that I had a core of pure evil, I was an enemy of goodness, and I would stab the tooth fairy to death if I had half a chance.
One of the posts that Jennifer links to says that there are a lot of people out there who share my position, but I haven’t met any of them. I’m a little surprised that I haven’t found more support among fellow Christians, because this seems like one of the counter-cultural things that my peeps usually go for. But the grown-ups love Santa even more than the kids.
All I can say is, Christians, if you spend every Christmas season pounding Santa into your kids’ heads and build the whole holiday around the free goodies he’s going to bring to the house, I don’t want to hear any complaints about how these materialistic kids don’t understand the true reason for the season. They understand what you teach them to understand.