Friday, December 01, 2006

Santa, the Easter Bunny and... Jesus?

Earlier this week a friend of mine brought up the issue of Santa Claus and his role in Christmas. After reading his thoughts on the matter, I responded and some feelings that I truly never knew existed, to such an extent anyway, began to well up in me. Now I realize that this could come across as quite legalistic or just downright anti–Christmas, but please hear me out. Again, for any first–time readers, I'm not some crotchety old man that hates anything fun and entertaining. Let's proceed.

Since I honestly have no recollection of whether or not I ever even believed in Santa as a child, I'll fast forward to much more recently when Santa started to really seem kind of hokey to me. I once knew a family that would go all out in order to drive home the idea that Santa did, in fact, exist. They'd leave half–eaten cookies, an empty glass of milk, fake footprints, the whole deal. I remember how I just quietly sat there thinking, "this is a bit ridiculous, don't you think?". I don't know, I guess it seems harmless enough, but I don't see why we have to conjure up some fake character for the sake of "fun", knowing full and well that we'll only have to disprove him years later. The bottom line is that it really is a lie. Even if you agree with nothing else that I'm saying (which is perfectly fine, by the way) you'd have to admit that it just isn't the truth.

Let me summarize my point by giving you this scenario. Many parents spend their efforts raising their children to believe in Santa, Easter bunnies, Tooth fairies and so on. Then, when the children reach whatever age the parents deem "old enough" they explain to them that these now fictional beings don't really exist. From a Christian household perspective, let's assume that they're also teaching Jesus as reality this entire time. "He is someone you can talk to and know personally", they say. In the midst of all of the clearing up of who's real and who's not, how do the children understand that all of the other characters are lies, but Jesus is real? If I told you 4 lies and then told you one truth, you would be much more prone to categorize me as untrustworthy, would you not? It's no wonder why so many kids grow up to think Jesus is a fairy tale too - just another story from their childhood.

So am I attempting to ruin your Christmas and convince you to throw out all of your decorations? Not at all. I simply want to cause you to do some thinking, some assessing of why we do the things that we do, often without even delving into the importance of it all. So you say that you're thinking about it now? Good. Merry CHRISTmas!

(thanks to Gadget for kicking off this train of thought)


Heather said...

Hey Joel,

I always enjoy reading your posts, as I did this one. I believe you are right about the Santa Claus/Easter Bunny issue. However, I do believe it is a parents choice to either participate in that or not. With Billy and I starting to become parents we've discussed this issue before. We believe it is okay to go with the fun part of Christmas AS LONG AS you also teach and make sure the child understands the REAL meaning of Christmas. Yes, later in life, every child gets crushed (if they even believed in Santa as a child) but that's part of being a child...growing up. The tooth fairy always visited me but I new that one was real. That was my grandmother.....and the Easter Bunny, always amazed me to think my grandparents new exactly where the Easter Bunny hid our Easter baskets each year. I think it's just part of being a kid. I appreciate your thoughts on this though - it does give me a perspective to think about.

Jonathan Hoover said...

Well my friend i agree with you on the principle of your story. That "No one believed a liar." With that said by the time a child is 8 years old they have figured out that Santa Claus is and the Easter Bunny is not real. Now i do not know to many Third or Fourth Graders coming to Christ.
Though I had not read said blog. I do believe it is alright to tell your children Santa is coming.
Now for half eating cookies and making foot prints i dunno about that. It does seem like overkill. But when i was a child i remember believing in Santa, and that Christmas was Jesus's birthday. Not till later did i realize how an adult would have trouble believe in two things like that. But for a child they have not asked to many questions and realize that even though it is impossible for both to be the same day, it works for a childs mind.
But the parable of your story is correct and i enjoyed this blogging adventure you have given to me.

Bill Ingram said...

Bravo Brother for your truth. I have seen what it does to children. And yes they do grow up to believe that Jesus was just another figure mommy & daddy made up. I commend you for your stand. I don't even do a tree because of it's pagen roots. And I celebrate Jesus Birth,365 days a year.