Thursday, December 29, 2005

Santa

Wow. I had no idea that some people were so defensive about doing the Santa thing. There is a huge brouhaha over at "CentuiOn's" blog, ever since Frank Turk wrote:
And don't start me on so-called "Christians" who don't "do" Santa. Jerks!
Whew. Talk about ethnocentric!

Apparently he thinks that Santa Claus is an integral part of the Christmas celebration and an integral part of our faith. It's all rather mind-boggling. I have never encountered this position before.

I commented:
Mr. Turk, you wrote:
"Santa is a culture issue, and as Christians we are called to renovate the culture. In that, when we are running away from renovating the culture, we are neglecting the most essential public testimony of our faith."

Until reading your blog, I did not realize that anyone thought that Santa was so integral to our faith. Very interesting.

I consider myself a Christian in the Biblical sense. My parents are far better disciples than I am. My mother's parents have had the privilege of, at gunpoint, being forced to choose between Hitler and Christ. They, of course, had made their decision long before that day.

God spared their lives. They did, however, experience persecution and loss. Discipleship cost them.

They never confused discipleship with having Santa as part of their Christmas. St. Nicholas, rather than the American Santa Claus of the obese and quivering belly, was a part of their cultural heritage but not part of their Christmas celebration, which tended to be far more centered on Christ.

You can do Santa all you want. You can call me a jerk all you want. You can question my Christianity all you want.

But as for examples of discipleship...I'll stick to those who stuck by Jesus, rather than those who chose to muddy the water by defining Christianity as "Jesus AND Santa".

Your argument and testimony are, at best, unconvincing.
Later on, I added more comment:
" Rebecca:

Why celebrate Christmas at all? What's your not-so-arbitrary reason for doing so?

Is celebrating "Christmas" on December 25th any less of a "myth" than the icon of a jolly fat man in a red suit? Why or why not?"

First of all, we let our children know that the date of Christmas was not chosen because it is known to be the actual birthdate of Jesus. We don't make a big deal of it; we just mention it. No long drawn out history/logic lessons that rob anyone of their fun!

We don't pretend Christmas Day is actually Jesus' birthday. And we talk about what is myth and what is real. Maybe our little kiddos are a bit more astute than some, but this kind of stuff can be explained to them fairly easily, without resorting to lectures.

Besides, we don't celebrate the typical American Christmas. We tend to place more of an emphasis on Christmas Eve, followed by the 1st and 2nd holidays.

The American Santa Claus myth simply doesn't fit in. The myth is silly and meaningless to me and easily separated from Christmas --- but maybe that's because I didn't grow up with Santa being a part of my Christmas celebrations.

My husband grew up with it, and he remembers quite clearly the one day when he was told the truth: no Tooth Fairy, no Easter Bunny, no Santa Claus. He decided then and there that he would level with his own children and would not mislead them into believing a host of little...dare I say it?...things that weren't exactly true.

You see, Santa really didn't enter their home through a window. (His parents had to think fast when he pointed out that Santa couldn't come down their nonexistent chimney.) The presents really came from his parents and grandparents. No reindeer ever landed on their roof or in their front yard. There was no Rudolph guiding the sleigh to their house. Etc., etc. His parents had, in his mind, misled him.

So, for this and a host of reasons, we don't do Santa. My husband didn't want our little ones to ever ask him, "So what else did you fool us about?" Call him a great cosmic kill-joy who is waving white flags while shooting real Christians, but there you have it. He knew that, if his children ever asked him a question, he would have to answer it truthfully --- and not hide behind some sort of philosophical smokescreen of "What is truth?" and "But C.S. Lewis said...!" Kids, at least ours, are more concrete than that. Did Santa really bring their presents or not? Putting on a Santa suit and saying, "Why, yes, a fat man in a red suit did bring your presents" isn't what my husband would consider being truthful, because it wouldn't be answering the real question.

Oops...my previous comments were cut off without my realizing it. To finish:

We have, however, instructed all of our children about The Santa Game, and they knew better than to ruin the game for other families. So your little ones won't be disabused of their notion that presents come from a guy who manages to do the physically impossible in one night rather than from real people who love them.

I also wrote a humorous anecdote about Halloween, but it's probably best left off.
Astute readers of my blog will no doubt point out, "Wait, you hypocrite! Didn't I read something about stockings and fake soda cans? What's up with that?"

Well, yeah, we do the stocking thing. I didn't do it growing up, but my husband brought his knitted cutesie stocking into marriage, and his mother made a few others to match. In our house, everyone knows that we put the "stuffers" in the stockings. The kids put stuff in each other's stockings, and they usually get us up on Christmas morning with joking demands that we fill their stockings.

Is there some great Christian symbolism that we attach to the stockings? Nah. It's just fun. (That may surprise Mr. Turk. He seems to find it difficult to grasp a Santa-less Christmas that isn't dour and fun-less. Perhaps he needs to get out more.) We also don't claim some great Christian symbolism behind what we eat for our Christmas Eve dinner; we just enjoy it.

But people who open their presents on Christmas Day instead of on Christmas Eve? I mean, really! Are they truly Christian in the Biblical sense of the word? Just kidding...

3 comments:

  1. Rebecca-
    I'll just repeat what I said in your Caroling post... I think you and your husband have a great perspective on the real meaning of the season. I've really appreciated the comments and insite you have brought into the Santa Wars on that other site.

    By the way, did you see my original post about the meltdown?

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  2. Hi, Rebecca - Just read your latest post - it's funny. Although pretty pathetic that some people get so bent out of shape about some of the stupidest things in the world, rather than using their heads and think to "figure some things out" in a rational, reasonable manner, with a huge dose of spirituality and faith, of course.

    I've "dropped by" before several times, but haven't commented before (I don't think). I've actually been quite snowed under lately, although the weather is far from snowy and I'm only "snowed under" from home, where I'm confined again for a couple of months for the most part.

    Oh well . . .

    I know you come by to "visit" with me, at least once in a while, don't know how much, but just wanted to tell you I greatly appreciate your "readership" and hope you'll take part on occasion. Speaking of which - did you happen to come by and/or vote (I don't think you did) last week when I had my "Christmas decorating" decisions to make about what our "Christmas theme" should be? Actually - that would be a good one to cite to in your commenting discussion (debate?) with Mr. Turk.

    That would totally throw him for a loop to see how I was proposing we should celebrate Christmas! ha! (I don't know, though. Some people just have NO sense of humor about things, you know? I mean - I figure that God knew what He was doing when He gave us our senses of humor and intends for us to use them and enjoy them, with His most gracious blessings.)

    Those are MY thoughts today, anyway.

    Cheers! Dee

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