Dec 16, 2009

claus or not?

New blog post on Relevant re: Santa

I've had some interesting discussions with my wife lately about the whole Santa Claus thing--- whether or not to tell your children that there is a magical guy that flies around once a year, bouncing from rooftop to rooftop, sneaking into people's houses via chimney and WD-40.

This article is from a Christian perspective; as a Christian I tend towards thinking the whole Santa thing is a bad idea to begin with. I know that makes me a big fat killjoy (it wouldn't be the first time), but the reason has nothing to do with a sense that Santa is not the "reason for the season" or distracts from Jesus....

My main issue is teaching a child that something is real, and then saying it's not. The guy in the article argues that teaching about mystery is good for children--- I agree; it's good for adults too. But when the jig is finally up, and Santa is exposed as a fraud, how then do we treat the mysterious in our world? As a fraud, I would expect! We learn to mistrust the fanciful and wondrous (especially when those in authority purport those ideas) and that keeps us from either accepting the possibility of spirituality at all, or we make religion into doctrines and dogmas, because, well, there's no mystery in that.

Oh yeah, the marketing kills me, too... how we spend 140 billion on Christmas EVERY YEAR, when even just a fraction of that amount could end world hunger/poverty/lack of clean water/lack of education/treatments/etc.etc.etc.....

Santa was supposed to teach us about the spirit of giving, and now he's a marketing tool, invoking nostalgia for more innocent times... such as, back when we believed in Santa...the magical and mysterious...

Maybe we can find a way to teach our children about giving and love in another way during the holiday season, and instead find ways to invoke real mystery and awe in our everyday lives, throughout the year.


Amy said...

I feel challenged to write a response: In defense of Santa Clause, giving and mystery during Christmas"

Maybe I will work on it next week when the Greek exam is over.

Josh said...

Hey, writing something when I have work to do didn't stop me! Slacker.

(Oh, wait, I have NO room to talk... if we compare who is better at blogging, there is no comparison...)

So, can't we just say you win now? :) Not about Santa, but just in general. You win.

Annesta said...

You are absolutely correct in saying that we should never lie to children...under ANY circumstance! Having said that, may I defend our dear ole friend Santa? In our home, we did play the Santa game. As I am sure that your sweet wife has shared with you, when asked by our daughters about the reality of Santa, we answered that he is the essence of Christmas. Then I would go into the explanation of why we give gifts to one another. I would talk about the wisemen first and then I would tell them that the ultimate gift giver is God because He sacrificed His only son as a gift for us so that we might have fellowship with Him and live eternally with Him.
We never insisted that Santa was a real person. When they figured it out early on, we just "played the game". On Christmas morning, you will still find gifts from Santa under our tree. What was and is most important in our home on Christmas morning (and all through the year) is that we celebrate because of God's greatest gift TO us. Santa was ALWAYS secondary.
The other issue that you bring up about Commercialism is worthy of a dissertation. Don't panic..I'm not going to write it on your comment page. I will say that in general, as a society, we have gone overboard with the giving of stuff. I admit that I have been guilty of that practice. When the girls were growing up there were two times when they would get stuff...birthday and Christmas. We didn't buy them stuff on a routine basis during the year. Sound like I am justifying but I am not. Explaining.
Is there a better way to do the whole gift giving and celebrating of our Saviours birth? Yes, most definitely. And I am certain that you and Amy will come up with wonderful traditions for your children that will be honoring to our Lord.

Josh said...

Thanks for the thoughts, my dear, sweet, beautiful mother-in-law-who-I-respect-and-admire-and-is-where-my-lovely-wife-definitely-gets-her-beauty-and-charm: :)

I think how you described it here is key: you made "Santa" about the giving, the "essence of Christmas;" you refer to it as something of a "game;" I know from talking to Amy that she never felt like her parents lied to her; and most importantly, you "never insisted that Santa was a real person." When you take it all like that, it's a whole different matter than what I'm concerned about. Then Santa points to fun and mystery and yes, to Jesus. So I don't see any issue with that approach at all... So, yes, the version of Santa to which you refer, should be vindicated! :)

All of that, however, comes with conversation and explanation that you describe, which I think is key... My issue is with inciting excitement and wonder in children by talking and teaching about Santa, and then NEVER having a conversation about it, or worse, insisting that Santa is real and making no indication that it is, as you call it, a "game."

Annesta said...

Thank you for the compliment. And, I do agree with you on the level that visits the issue that parents insit that Santa is real. Yes, and that is perveracating to your children. That, of course leads to lack of trust on many levels. But maybe more important than that is the issue that your raise in basically allowing Santa to overshadow or even cloak in invisibility that Christmas is Jesus. HE is the gift to a hurtying, dying world.
I am glad you brought this topic up and I am confident that when you have little ones, you and Amy will teach them with your words and more importantly with your daily lives WHO Jesus is and what our response to HIM should always be.