To Kringle or Not to Kringle:
Don’t Be Hatin’ the Fat Man
I was recently surprised by discovering the depth of Anti-Claus out there. Growing up in a relatively large community of believers, I was aware of a few families who had chosen to not do the whole “Santa-thing”… but back then, we called them Jehovah Witnesses.
All kidding aside, (at least for the next sentence or two) I honestly hadn’t given the relative merits or dangers of St. Nick-ing much thought because I hadn’t thought it was an issue. For me, I still don’t find it an issue – but I deeply respect those who have chosen to be Father Christmas Free. So far, I have seen three main arguments in the serious case against Sinterklaas.
1) Facing the revelation that Santa Claus was a hoax perpetuated by their parents, a young child may also start to question the validity of other things such as the Bible in general or Jesus Christ in particular.
2) Santa Claus is indicative of the hyper-commericalism rampant in our society
3) Celebrating Santa takes away from the true meaning of Christmas
All of those things have the potential to be true. And one could argue (and be correct) that it is always wise to err on the side of caution. But those three arguments also have the potential to not be true. This, to me, cements Santa’s status as a matter of Style rather than Substance for a Christian.
It’s certainly possible to abuse the phenomenal freedom we have in Christ, but it’s also possible to assign an unnecessary amount of substance to matters that aren’t really of doctrinal stature.
I think it’s all in the approach. For example:
To lessen any fallout from the “Santa’s Not Real” reveal, lead into a dialogue about make-believe. Treat Santa like a game that the older children can now be a part of as they can share this “secret” along with you from the younger kids.
To mitigate the draw of excessive commercialism associated with Santa, perhaps have only the Stockings stuffed by Santa and have all gifts be from family and friends. (Then, of course, Mom and Dad may become symbols of commercialism… but you can’t win everything).
Keeping Christmas focused on Christ is as simple as establishing family traditions which do just that.
All this is to say that not doing Santa with your kids is ok. But doing Santa with your kids is ok as well. Santa is a thing, a shared cultural tradition, a morally neutral concept. Santa as we know him is a relatively modern invention… but the story of the real St. Nicolas (and the other older stories which combine into Santa) can be used to counteract our modern misuse of the jolly fat man.
Santa to me is just a harmless, fun game we can play with our young children. But others may see it differently… and that is no problem at all. A Christ-centered Christmas is the important thing. All the other trappings are given to us as matters of preference and style.
Next on the docket-
The Easter Bunny:
Harmless Hare or Reprobate Rabbit Hopping down the Path to Hell?