Poor ol’ Saint Nick—sometimes I feel he gets a bad rap. You want to talk about Christmas and wars, don’t forget the old Santa Clause. It reads something like this…
Families, Sunday Schools, coffee table, it doesn’t matter. We evangelicals are quite opinionated with our opinions thinking that we hold the mystery of the key of David. What we open no one will shut and what we shut no one will open. After all if it is something we have an opinion on, we must be right!
Hence you have those families who see Santa as a fun part of Christmas and family traditions—a jolly ol’ guy in a red suit who somehow makes it down chimneys while we sleep and leaves trinkets in stockings to brighten a child’s eyes. And you have those families who see Satan as an affront to the Gospel, where we are lying to our children and replacing Jesus as the center-point of the season. Most who lean that way aren’t that bad, but I have heard a few who would equate Kris Kringle with the spawn of…well, rearrange the letters in Santa and you’ll get the name.
Of course in writing this, I have my own opinion and so I’ll be honest: I really don’t mind the cheery fat man my parents used to tell me ate the cookies left by the tree.
I do agree some people go overboard. Santa does become the reason for the season. Some people do use him as an all year threat to their kids. And I even know one thirteen year old who still legitimately believes in Santa Clause. And yes, I wrote that correctly.
But I grew up, for a while at least, believing in Santa. My parents still have a letter I wrote when I was eight telling Santa he didn’t have to bring anything for my sister since she was getting married. I also asked for a model train set—I got a race track instead. Hum bug. (I’m still waiting on that model train set!)
Here’s the thing with it, though. When I found out Santa wasn’t real, I never felt lied to or cheated. I never equated Santa with Jesus or thought since my parents made up this story about the bearded man flying through the air on a sleigh pulled by reindeer they must also have made up the prophecy about the King of kings returning in the air riding on a white horse.
When my parents talked about Santa, it was limited to a few weeks out of the year. We talked about Jesus a whole lot more, including at least three times a week every week at church services. I wrote an annual letter to Santa, but we prayed daily to Jesus. And even though Santa and Rudolph and the elves making and bringing presents were a part of the fun of Christmas, the story of the baby in the manger who was God’s present to us was always the focus of Christmas.
My point is this: let’s not put too much focus on Santa, but let’s not demonize him either.
I think our Christian liberty allows a little fun with storytelling when it comes to our children at Christmas time. Yet our Christian liberty also allows us to not use Santa in our celebrations as well.
God sent Jesus to be our peace. We got enough to worry about in the world. If your family uses Santa as a part of the mythos, be at peace with your brothers and sisters who choose not to. Likewise if you choose to not include Santa at Christmastime, be at peace with your brothers and sisters who do.