There are a lot of posts these days about Santa. There are articles, there are news reporters blurting out the "truth" about Santa on the local news, there are teachers telling their 2rd graders...I've seen folks share they don't want to lie to their children by telling them to believe in Santa.
Some believe that if you talk about Santa it takes away from "keeping Christ in Christmas."
They may be the same people who get upset about using X in Xmas.... I remember the gasps across my Christian Thought colloquy when the TA wrote "Xian" on the board to shorten it. The TA said to all of us - get over this- X- means Chi- for Christ....This image has floated around Facebook:
I have no judgment (? that's even probably too strong) towards those who love Santa or demonize him. Nor do I think that my words will be the all wise words of how to deal with Santa...but I do have an opinion about Santa, so I thought I'd share.
I actually love Santa. I'm a pretty optimistic person- I do not believe optimism means naivite either. (Perhaps that will be another posts someday...)
I never grew up feeling like Santa and celebrating Jesus' birth were mutually exclusive.
I don't really feel like Santa means commercialism or consumerism.
Yes, manufactures, toy stores, etc have manipulated the Santa image to sell products.
I do believe parents have used Santa to manipulate (read here scare) their children into good behavior.
I think sometimes children may have a wrong view of Santa--like he'll bring them whatever they want... but I don't think that's their fault. I think they just haven't been taught who Santa is.
So- Who do I think Santa is?
Santa is Saint Nicholas- someone who loved Jesus and gave to the poor and shared his love of Christ with others. Saint Nicholas was a bishop and a saint.
See: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Nicholas (I'm having trouble with this link- but its wiki)....
Kevin and I loved reading this historical fiction book a few years ago- "The Autobiography of Santa Claus" It was a fun historical novel to read that we greatly enjoyed reading to each other. Whenever I talk to my girls about Santa- I say that Santa does what he does because of his love for Christ. We may meet people who dress up like Santa who do not reflect this, but it does not discount the core of who Santa was/is. I talk about how the wise men brought gifts to Jesus. I talk about how Jesus received three gifts. I talk about how the greatest gift we have is that God gave us His Son to save us. We watch the Veggie Tales "Saint Nicholas: A Story of Giving."
For parents -- I loved this response about Santa.
We also love watching Charlie Brown Christmas, we love watching Rudolph, we love watching Frosty, The Night Before Christmas- and pretty much any Christmas special out there (we even have a He-Man/She-Ra Christmas special!
We watched Rudolph the other night- what a phenomenal movie about rejection, grace, redemption, who are the misfit toys today??? We talked about these things with the girls as we watched the movie. God calls us not to judge others, but to see their gifts and know that God has made them for a purpose. These are the conversations we have. There can be good and powerful teaching conversations that are helpful and that do not overwhelm them with too much info.
Why should I deconstruct the world for them before they have yet experienced it? I believe it is important to deconstruct things - for sure! I had a solid and wonderful liberal arts education! I've read Foucault, Derrida, Heidegger, Lyotard- I took Postmodern Theory, Philosophy, etc.. Much thanks thanks to incredibly smart and caring professors at Birmingham-Southern College and more deconstructing as a US-2 Missionary thanks to the General Board of Global Ministries and Central UMC in Detroit. I continued the joy of deconstructing in seminary.
Deconstructing is fun- interesting, intellectual, important.
It shouldn't be done for our own agendas... b/c then we'd just have to deconstruct ourselves!
Which.... really- at the end of the day that is what theology should do... we need to deconstruct ourselves...
We deconstruct, we tear down, and what do we find at the core? Truth. Incarnation. Christ.
There is more than us-- we are made in the image of God.
We are made to point to something more.
I loved loved loved this wonderful article about the power of Incarnational Theology!
The power of believing is important- but we don't believe just to believe- we don't believe in an idea or an idol, or a concept, we believe in a person- Jesus Christ.
A real person who came and lived, and died, and rose again for us.
Who came so that we may have life- and not just any life, but a life transformed and abundant.
And we have wonderful wonderful amazing persons who help point us to the person of Christ and help us live more like Jesus. Saint Nicholas was one of those persons.
So what do I tell my girls?
I tell them to believe -in Jesus, to believe in Saint Nicholas (Santa) and to believe in themselves and what God can do through them to give, to share joy, and share the love of Christ.