Friday, December 19, 2008

Santa vs. Jesus

So what really is the reason for the season? Is it about an overweight fat white guy who tries to sneak into our homes through they chimney to shower us with presents? Or is it about the birth of a middle-eastern tradesman who many claim is God incarnate, born not in a palace but in the lowly poverty of a stable? Do we have to choose? [online comparisons: one, two , funny three (below), slightly offensive South Park four].

Modern Day Jesus: Santa vs. Jesus

With my kids I've always favored Jesus more than Santa. Maybe it's because we don't have a fireplace in our house, hence he could never come over and we're eternally doomed to be shunned by St. Nick. Yet I prefer the power and
promise of the Jesus birth story over Santa flying through the air with gifts. When asked if he's real by my kids, I always respond asking them if they think he's real. Of course they do. I use to tell our eldest that Santa is a mythical figure, who was a real man who did show generosity to children. I wouldn't go as far as to say that Santa is Satan [mix the letters around to see how] but I'd rather that our kids know the foundational experience that formed what we now call Christmas. I don't want to lie about why we do what we do, at least how we as a family live and act from our beliefs and existential choice to follow Jesus as the guide to our life praxis.

But am I robbing our kids of the mystery of Christmas, the joy of seeing "Santa's helpers" working
throughout the glorious malls of our nation, ringing bells in front of Safeway, and retold with the wonder of claymation? Even if I didn't choose to be a follower of Jesus, I'm not sure that I'd want to blatantly encourage capitalistic worship of the jolly man who seems to be able to produce every product that my kids could wish for at Toys-R-Us, Target, Costco, and the dollar bin at Longs Drugs. Maybe the whole Santa narrative has been to highjacked by corporate America and he needs his own bailout? Besides why when I tell my kids to stay away from strange men all year long, why in December would I act differently? Plus I have to admit the Easter Bunny vs. Jesus conflict really bugs me a whole bunch more for theological reasons, plus how would my kid who believes in a human-sized bunny hoping unhurt through East Oakland ever stand a chance of getting into Stanford?

Some other bloggers have posted on this epic battle. Bruce | John O'Hara
Of course now the next big question is Santa vs. Jack Frost.

So am I a horrible parent, follower of Jesus? I think in the end we have to choose both, yet frame our celebrations around what we believe and act from in our families and the communities of faith we call home.

What do you choose to do in the Santa vs. Jesus conflict?

1 comment:

cbpaschall said...

Thanks for your thoughts Monte, I enjoy your insights. We have similar feelings in our family and choose to celebrate Jesus more than Santa though my kids still want to believe in Santa so Santa "comes" in a not so "free shipping" type of way in our home. Advent is a huge part of our December which helps the focus for all of us. I guess I see Santa as a lesson in belief about something we can't actually see. It leads to good elementary conversations about things in our faith that we are not able to "see." I just pray that not too many of our parenting decisions add to a therapy bill down the road :).