At the risk of being called an Ebenezer Scrooge, I wanted to address an issue every Christian parent should consider. The issue of Santa Clause.
Let’s face it, Santa Clause is the worst thing to happen to a Christian celebration of Christmas. We make kids believe in a fat man who hands out gifts unfairly and makes out with mom, and then ask them to believe in Jesus.
Most modern American beliefs about Santa come from Dutch settlers in New York and reach us by way of department store marketing and Thomas Nast cartoons. But, as many people know, the modern Santa Claus evolved out of St. Nicholas.
Nicholas lived in southwestern Turkey in the fourth century and, according to legend, performed a number of miracles involving sailors and children. He was from a wealthy family and, in a prefiguration of modern stockings, would occasionally toss gold through the windows of less fortunate neighbors to help them through hard times.
In one particularly gruesome miracle story, he resurrected three children who had been murdered by a butcher for their meat. The miraculous feat earned him the status of patron saint of children and put him on course to becoming the bearded fat man in the red suit.
You might be asking, If the historical St. Nick was a good man, where is the harm, where is the foul?
We don’t teach the historical St. Nicholas as a lesson to our children, we teach them about a fairy tale in the same breath we teach them about a historical Jesus.
Consider that we give Santa almost God-like qualities. He can travel around the world in a single night. He sees you when you are good or bad, sleeping or waking. He knows if you have been eating your veggies and doing your chores.
These days we have added the Elf on the Shelf to assist Santa. Here is an excerpt from the Elf website.
The Elf on the Shelf® is a special scout elf sent from the North Pole to help Santa Claus manage his naughty and nice lists. When a family adopts an elf and gives it a name, the elf receives its Christmas magic and can fly to the North Pole each night to tell Santa Claus about all of the day’s adventures. Each morning, the elf returns to its family and perches in a different place to watch the fun. Children love to wake up and race around the house looking for their elf each morning.
But even a five year old can see that Santa doesn’t give gifts fairly. My kids always noticed that wealthier families seemed to get a whole lot more than they did, even if those kids were naughty!
There is nothing more difficult to explain than why Santa brought a new iPad or laptop to the Nelly Olsen down the street and your child got pens and paper.
At some point, you have to fess up that Santa is not real. He is just a fairy tale. Someone everyone made up to get the kids to behave. But, Jesus is real. He sees everything and knows what you are up to without the elf. Jesus was born of a virgin, did miracles including healing people and multiplying bread and fish. He can even take away your sin.
Jesus is nothing like Santa.
The modern Christmas elevates Santa Clause to equal status to Jesus for church going children. I would even say that Santa has superseded Jesus even in Christian homes. So when Santa is exposed, how do we expect Jesus to remain unscathed?
Is Santa Clause dangerous for Christian children? I hold that Santa can steal your child’s faith.