Sunday, November 30, 2008

on santa

I started to write a rant about commercialism and children at Christmas, but I decided to keep my mouth shut. My children aren't old enough yet to have been sucked in by marketing in the toy industry, so maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. Maybe I should wait until I have school age kids, and if I can still say with a straight face how important it is to teach moderation, I'll say it then.

For now, let's talk about Santa Claus.

Watch anything that involves Santa and children - The Polar Express, an M&M commercial, anything. Watch the way parents (or elves, or toys, or reindeer - depending on the scene) talk about believing, and the wonder on children's faces when they realize Santa is real. Substitute the word "Jesus" for Santa, and tell me that's not a religious experience. Tell me that's not the type of wonder and hope I want to see my children experience in Christ soon. Cynics love to compare God to a cosmic Santa; that's not at all what I'm saying. I'm saying that children are encouraged, through media and often through their parents and grandparents, to believe that Santa is a living being, capable of miracles. And if children believe, so the story goes, their prayers for toys will be answered. Except that it's a lie, and when they get to a certain age, some adult (or, more often, some classmate) informs them that their faith in Santa has been a farce. Joke's on them.

One day soon I'm going to talk to my children about Jesus. I'm going to tell them that He is a being capable of miracles, and that if they believe, their prayer for redemption will be answered. And because I want them to believe me then, I can't lie to them now. I can't let them think Santa is capable of miracles, because he's not. I don't want them to have any reason to see faith as a farce, so I have to let Santa be what he is. A tradition, a game, an ornament, a man at the mall. Something fun, but not real. Like Mickey Mouse and chocolate milk.

10 comments:

Kendra said...

I couldn't agree more Stephanie!!

papilio588 said...

Wait. Chocolate milk isn't real?

Katie said...

Hey Stephanie. I will come out of blog lurking to comment on this one. We are in the same boat in our household. But I don't want my little girl to be the one that tells everyone Santa isn't real. Are you still going to have gifts from Santa but just make sure they're aware that it's just pretend? And will you tell them that other kids believe he's real? How will you handle that. Just wondering...
Katie FitzGerald Fanning (Cindy and Elizabeth's friend from Asbury).

P.S. I LOVE reading your blog!! It's great!

mikkee said...

i agree. that is exactly a reason a cousin of mine posits that he doesn't believe in Jesus.

Nick M. said...

I'm with Liz on this one...when did Chocolate Milk become not real? I missed a memo or something.

As for the Santa/Jesus conundrum...I have thought about this several times since becoming a father and I don't know what my answer is. I agree completely about the importance of Jesus and a child's belief in the miracles of faith. I also am torn by what Katie said about my kids being the ones that ruin it for someone else. I just don't know.

Geez...who knew this parenting thing would be challenging? ;-)

Stephanie said...

Katie, I didn't know you read the blog. Good to hear from you!

We don't do gifts from Santa, just from us. We went to see him in a parade, and Asher cared more about the live reindeer than Santa. By next year, when Asher is having conversations with us, I guess we'll explain it like a game, and that we don't want to ruin the game for everyone else. A friend of mine has a 2nd grader who has always "known" about Santa, and she does fine with keeping it to herself. Hopefully my kids will be able to do the same. I guess we'll see.

The Review Lady said...

LOVED this post - Mark and I have been having this very conversation as to what we will do when we have kids. I'm with you, he's a little on the fence (for the reasons others have mentioned about other kids, etc.). I was preparing myself that we will reach freak-status with our family/friends for bucking tradition. Glad to know if that happens, we are not alone. :)

p.s. completely unrelated, but a compliment to pass along anyway...when we were in the middle of a long holiday drive, I read your posts to Mark for entertainment. He commented (and I of course agree) how well written your posts are and that you are a good storyteller. I agree - several posts (including the 55lb hamster living with you) made us laugh out loud.

aubrey said...

AMEN!!! that's all I have to say!

Katie said...

Thanks for the info! My little one is four months so you're just ahead of us! : )

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

I will be the lone dissenter who says that I just don't have any problems with Santa. I loved Santa as a child, and I loved Jesus too. The two never conflicted for me. Here, we are all about Santa for 25 days in December - but we are all about Jesus 365 days a year.

-When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became a (wo)man, I gave up my childish ways.-