There were a few years where I was a rabid Anti-Santite. Well it was not exactly as if I was affected by rabies... but I meant it. I was a Christian dern it! That jolly old elf was one of the great deceptors of our time. A filthy mix of greedy consumerism and nearly OPRAH-like nicey nicey feel-good pablum that was conceived by the Devil himself to make us forget to do Living Nativities in town squares and light advent candles.
We once declined to allow a Santa-related gift we received into our home as not allow the enemy to infiltrate our jingle belled haven. Deep sigh. I know. But don't judge until you've tried earnestly center your life around genuine service and devotion to a deity. Have a little grace. It does a body good to analyze our culture instead of just lapping up what we're being handed.
Can these two Christmas superpowers get along??? My brother tweeted this the other day:
It made me laugh. This stanza has always fascinated me:
Santa knows that we're God's children,
That makes everything right
Fill your hearts with Christmas cheer,
'Cause Santa Claus comes tonight
It's like Santa's doing his thing while respecting God's turf. So that makes everything "right". Listen... Santa was hard core. Saint Nick was a stinkin' FAITH HEALER and radical carer of the underprivileged in the name of God! Check out these Santa stories:
"A poor man had three daughters but could not afford a proper dowry for them. This meant that they would remain unmarried and probably, in absence of any other possible employment would have to become prostitutes. Nicholas decided to help him but being too modest to help the man in public, or to save the man the humiliation of accepting charity, he went to his house under the cover of night and threw three purses (one for each daughter) filled with gold coins through the window opening into the man's house. In one version the father confronts the saint, only to have Saint Nicholas say it is not him he should thank, but God alone."
Go Santa! And now the one of about the human meat pies of death:
"A terrible famine struck the island and a malicious butcher lured three little children into his house, where he slaughtered and butchered them, placing their remains in a barrel to cure, planning to sell them off as ham. Saint Nicholas, visiting the region to care for the hungry, not only saw through the butcher's horrific crime but also resurrected the three boys from the barrel by his prayers. Another version of this story, the man murdered them, and was advised by his wife to dispose of them by turning them into meat pies. The Saint saw through this and brought the men back to life."
Hard Core. Now THAT'S a Santa story. The real question as a parent is how to treat the Santa myth with our kids. It is a very legitimate argument to say, "How can I convince my kids of a mystical man at the North Pole they never see but who cares and brings gifts... then tell them that he doesn't exist... but that the other mystical man in the sky they never see but who loves them and gives them gifts DOES." It's GOOD logic. And one day, for every parent, push DOES come to shove at some point.
How it rolled out for us was that we didn't say much at all. We have never played up the absolute veracity of Santa. There are no "From Santa" gifts under the tree. But our kids have grown up enjoying the stories. And two weeks ago our oldest son Jared, who is now 8, asked point blank for the first time if Santa was real. And I told him no. Was he crushed? Absolutely not. He was pumped that he figured it out and pieced together what was God and what was a nice silly story logically. I told him about the human meat pies of death and how Saint Nicholas took care of the three daughters and he made the connection to that event and our knit stockings today. We watched Elf this weekend and Jared winked at me. It was great. As a result... my kids did not have be Anti-Santites at a young age. They just learned about the origins of Christmas AND that a way to incarnate that love IS through gift giving today. My December article in The Brant Advocate coming out next week is about why we shouldn't stop giving gifts at Christmas.
This Saturday is the Brantford Santa Claus Parade and it's theme this year is "Santa's Workshop". Our float this year is a Mini Living Nativity scene to promote our up-coming musical in Harmony Square and we toyed with including the line:
"The Living Nativity... the original workshop where Santa got the idea"
We didn't ... but I think it might be time to stop pretending that our purpose at Christmas is to defeat Santa. Tell the story of Jesus. It's SO important and IS the real meaning of Christmas. But Santa knows that we're God's children man. Be generous and help each other in Jesus name. And if you happen to see a bucket of people guts about to be turned into meat pies... think to yourself... "What would Santa do?"