My Problem With Santa

OK, to be honest, I have a few problems with the whole Santa thing (which is why we don’t “do” Santa around here). First, all of the qualities of God he’s given.  Omniscient (knows when you’re sleeping, knows if you’ve been good or bad), omnipresent (how else could he possibly deliver all those gifts all over the world in one night?!?), and darn well near omnipotent (how else can you explain the things he does–flying reindeer, world travel, eating all those cookies–sounds pretty close to all-powerful to me!).

Then there’s the fact that I don’t understand why the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior needs anything to be more special or more fun.  I feel this way even more at Easter with the whole Easter Bunny nonsense–because our Savior’s resurrection isn’t good enough on it’s own?  We need a candy and toy delivering bunny to make it better, somehow?  Church holidays should be able to stand on their own without our help, at least I think so.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem teaching my children about the real Saint Nicholas–about his faith in God, and about his generosity to others, which stemmed from that faith.  But, I can’t imagine that if the real Nicholas knew what kind of farce his kindness to children has morphed into, he would be very happy with it.  

But what really steams me is the way parents push the whole Santa thing, which makes me believe it’s really more for them than their children.  Take this quote, for example:

Q: What do you do when your kid asks if Santa is real?  A: Jacob is 7 and Connor is almost 6, so we’ve had this question a lot lately.  I remind them that we believe in some things even if we can’t see them–like how we believe in God.  There are so many heavy, serious things that kids today have to handle–they need a little magic too!”

Now, it’s one thing to play pretend with small children.  It’s not for us, but I (mostly) keep my opinions to myself, and I’m certainly not judging people who do Santa; my own parents did with me.  But the thing is, when I was about seven or so, and asked my mother if Santa was real, she didn’t lie to me, or try to convince me otherwise, she just asked me what I thought, and then I knew.  If you’re going to do Santa, I think that’s the best way to go about it–let your children figure it out on their own, and when they do, accept it, don’t try to convince them otherwise, or make the lie worse, like the mother in the quote above.  She crosses a serious boundry with her response to her children, because not only does she lie to them to try to get them to keep believing (and at an age when her oldest is probably ready and able to discern the truth), she makes a one-to-one comparison to God:  “We believe in some things even if we can’t see them–like how we believe in God.”

Warning!  Warning!  What serious Christian parent could possibly think this answer to a child’s question about the truth of Santa is appropriate or wise?  What happens to that child, when, at the age of eight or nine or whenever, he really does find out the truth about Santa?  Now, we’ve got not only the regular disappointment and potential disillusionment over finding out that your parents have been lying to you your whole life, but also a potential crisis of faith.  I can see it now:  “But mom, you said Santa is just like God; we can’t see either one of them, and I was supposed to still believe.  Now that I know Santa doesn’t exist, maybe God doesn’t either.  And since you lied to me about Santa, why should I believe you about God?”

Now, I’m not saying that every child is going to lose their faith, stop trusting their parents, etc., but if even one does, isn’t that too many?  (And just for the record, I did actually know someone who did have this crisis, and it took him a long time to work through.  That’s what first started me re-thinking the whole Santa thing back in high school.)  Is it really worth it to take that chance when we’re talking about something as serious as faith in the Almighty?  Since when did making Christmas “magical” become more important than nurturing a child’s faith in the One who created him?

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