Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Santa Claus is Coming to Town...or is He?

You better watch out,
You better not pout
You better not cry
I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town.

He's making a list
Checking it twice
Gonna find out whose naughty and nice

Santa Claus is coming to town.

He knows when you are sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows when you've been bad or good
So be good, for goodness sake.

REALLY??? Does that song creep anyone out besides me? And what about him breaking into your house on Christmas Eve? And drinking milk that's been left out all night? EWE!

I'm fixing to get serious about Santa, so if you have a little one looking over your shoulder who believes in Santa, you might want to move them.

We don't celebrate Santa in our house. GASP! I know. How ever do we have Christmas without him? Well Christmas shouldn't be about Santa knowing if you've been bad or good, it's about God (who really does know if we've been bad or good) being born a human.

We've given Santa these Christ like qualities and then one day you have to reveal to your children that he's not real. You could cause a child to question God. Well if Santa isn't real, and you've been telling me all these years that he is, is God? Is Jesus? If you don't think it can happen, it happened to Jeff. And I have friends it happened to. It caused a crisis in their young little faith.

So we don't celebrate Santa. We get to take credit for the awesome presents we get them. Isn't it lame on Christmas morning to give the most awesome gifts to your kids and not get a, "thanks mom, I love it"? (Of course, we still do stockings. I just give them their stockings.)

Frankly, it seems like a little much to have to keep making up stories to keep Santa real. Like, how is Santa at all the stores? How does he make it to all of our houses? How does he know what I want if I don't tell him? You have to LIE to your children to answer questions about Santa. Ever thought about that?

For our older children who once did celebrate Santa, before we had a change of heart, they know not to tell other people that Santa isn't real. They understand that many people play the game. (They think it's mean though.) They know it's up to the parents to tell the kids Santa isn't real.

For Millicent, and presumably Asa and our future children, Santa will be just like the naked guy on Monsters Inc (don't ask). A character in a story. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer...Frosty the Snowman...just another Christmas character. And one who won't confuse my children about who God really is.

This really makes us different. How about you? Have you decided not to celebrate Santa? Maybe you disagree with me and think no harm could come from it? Please let me know in the comments section. I would love to discuss this with you.


Annie said...

We do not celebrate Santa at all in our house. We decided this when we were first married before children. My mil asked why we don't after we had Joshua. My husband told her that we didn't want to lie to our children. We were heading into Kmart during this conversation to get family pictures, during Christmas 2 years ago. A passerby overheard and just laughed.

Annie said...

Oh, and yes....it does label us as strange but we prefer to celebrate Jesus. We even only do 3 gifts for each other just as Jesus only received 3 gifts from the wise men.

Anonymous said...

Everyone has their own way to celebrate with family around the holidays. We are not christian so Santa is a big part of our holiday. To us christmas is a fun time of year when we get together with loved ones to play games, eat yummy food, and catch up.

Jeff Johnson said...

This is a serious question not meant to offend (well okay...some of it is meant to offend, but in the nicest way possible). Why do you, as a non-Christian, choose to celebrate Christmas at all. Why not have fun during Ramadan, Kalpavriksha or, my personal favorite, the satanist harvest moon celebration? It would be cute...you could have a little bush and decorate it with little demons and send out cards about "wishing you holiday hedonism"...and then the kids could go out to the front yard and chase down the "harvest moon present fiend" to get their gifts. Instead of Charlie Brown and egg-nog you could do porn and moonshine. Especially since unbelievers don't have to bother themselves with things like objective moral standards...there can certainly be no objection raised to this based upon any solid notion of "wrong and right". Good times. Think of the photo opportunities and laughter that would be shared by all!

Oh wait, I know why you (or most unbelievers anyway) won't. Because even though you deny the existence of God you still cling to some arbitrary standard of morality. How do you justify having objective moral standards (I assume you do/although I could be wrong)? I am truly curious about this and not just baiting you. Is it wrong to show a small child pornography or give him moonshine to drink? Why? What gives you the right to proclaim it? These types of considerations led me to explore Christianity in the first place...it is healthy to listen to other points of view. I look forward to hearing yours.

Jeff Johnson said...

I just read through what I wrote...after hitting the publish button...and it does sound rather boorish. My sincere apologies. I enjoy a good debate, and am doing my best to start one...but I truly do not want to offend you. Sorry if I did. If you knew me, personally, you would not be offended..but I can see how someone reading that post on the internet could be. So anyway...please challenge my beliefs...tear them down if you can. I don't want to be left with any false beliefs when I die, that's be point of debating ideas.

Anonymous said...

Ahh, the classic porn and moonshine argument... I'll have to think about this one.

Jeff Johnson said...

yes. Hopefully Martin Luther won't mind me dusting off his classic porn and moonshine argument. Frankly though, St. Augustine's hoes and crack argument is overused these days...and was soundly refuted by Bertrand Russell....so I try to stay clear of it.

Anonymous said...

I happened across your post to anonymous and found potential for some healthy debate. As someone that is non-Christian, I would like to take a stab at the questions you posted.

Why do you, as a non-Christian, choose to celebrate Christmas at all?
In addition to being a national holiday, I celebrated Christmas with my family growing up and really enjoyed giving/receiving gifts and spending time with family. If I lived in another part of the world, I would very likely celebrate a different holiday. For example, I would not celebrate Thanksgiving if I was a French citizen, much like you would think Islam is the “correct” religion if you were born and raised in Pakistan (97% of Pakistanis do). We are all products of our upbringing and surroundings, like it or not.
You probably already know this, but December 25 was originally a Pagan winter festival commemorating the birth of Mithras, the Persian god of light. As Christianity grew, Constantine I wanted to appease the Christians and maintain control over his people. So, he replaced “Mithras” with “Jesus” and Christmas was born. The gift giving, families and friends gathered to feast, and a celebration of a birth were all carried over from the Roman and Persian festivities. I would argue that we are both ignoring Mithras on his sacred day and celebrating the “wrong” thing on Dec 25.

How do you justify having objective moral standards (I assume you do/although I could be wrong)? I am truly curious about this and not just baiting you. Is it wrong to show a small child pornography or give him moonshine to drink? Why?
Regardless of your faith or lack thereof, I think we can all agree that most humans enjoy seeing others happy. As much as I would like to think this stems from a sense of altruism deep inside of all of us, it is much more likely that this is a learned behavior. The golden rule is taught in Kindergarten, if not earlier. From an early age we learn that if are jerks to everyone we meet, we don’t get our way very often and will take an occasional beating. However, if we are nice to others, the favor is often returned.
I know your next question will be “Children may enjoy porn or alcohol, so why wouldn’t you give them these things?” We all know that children are not physiologically ready for either of these things. Plus, there is scientific evidence that alcohol is physiologically damaging and porn is psychologically damaging. In addition to all of this, both of these activities are illegal in the US.
I think a non-believer and Christian will agree on what is right 9 times out of 10. The main difference is that Christians are told to follow certain rules blindly by a mythical creature that they cannot, by definition, prove the existence of (there is not proof, you must have faith). Not all of us need to have the threat of being sent to Hell in order to be kind to someone or do what is “right.” If you don’t believe in an after life, you value your life much more and will make the most of it while you can, not put it off until after you die.
I realize that the previous paragraph was a little harsh, but please don’t take offense; I am interested in your response. I actually really do respect all religions and think that it helps many people do what is “right.”

Edited by Michelle to be family friendly (Sorry anon)

Jeff Johnson said...

Thanks. I truly appreciate the opportunity for discussion. I will freely give you the point about Mithras. Christians totally stole this pagan holiday and "sanctified" it. The same is true of Easter. In full disclosure, I admit I only used the question as an excuse to address a larger issue, which you have also addressed. It's no big deal to me if people celebrate Christmas at all. The bible certainly never told us we had to.

You also make another very good point, which I must admit, has given me pause for thought in the past. If I were Pakistani would
I be a Muslim? Am I Christian only because I grew up in a "christianized" culture. I could go on for paragraphs about this...but it would detract from the meat of my point...and here it is. Your assertion that I would be Muslim if born in Pakistan or Hindu if born in India makes the implicit assumption that "religion" is merely a societal phenomenon. I agree most people say they are Muslim who are born in Pakistan (and I have known many of them) and most religious Americans claim Christianity. Similarly and increasingly, younger westerners (first in Europe and now in America) also claim agnosticism, athiesm, or relativism (as I assume you do) which has its own religious committments...largley because they were born into a culture that assumes the same. The thing that Christianity, Islam, athiesm, and all other religions have in common is that they contradict each other. Either they are all false or only one of them can be true. The fact that some people will be born into a culture where the "true" religion is more accessible is just the nature of the beast. Either that or we are all wrong...or perhaps you are right...but wait you were born into a culture that is VERY accepting of relativism and humanism...so really, the argument you have leveled against me is also true for you, and thus, self refuting. As a side note...most people who claim to be Muslim, Christian, or athiest have not truly examined what they are saying. Merely saying you are a Christian (or anything else) does not make it so. If you find a Muslim in Oklahoma it is much more likely he understands what that means than if you find one in Pakistan...Same thing if you find a Christian in Pakistan.

Now I must say that your explanation of moral standards is totally philosophically unacceptable. And I want you to know from the outset I appreciate your candor...there are plenty of people who are too emotionally sensitive to discuss these things. I am not one of them...and neither was my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (had to throw that in).

You claim moral behaviors are "learned". So I assume you are claiming there is no universal moral law (like the 2nd law of thermodynamics or the law of gravity) but rather morals have sort of naturally evolved along with human beings. A number of athiest philosophers have sought to advance this position rather unsuccessfully. So let me ask you this. You mention that children are not psychologically ready for pornography or physiologically ready for moonshine. Do you realize what you've done? You've introduced your own arbitrary moral standard. Is "being psychologically or physiologically ready" the standard we are to use to decide when a person is prepared for a certain activity? Regardless of whether or not I agree...I must ask..why?? Why should it matter if a child isn't psychologically ready. Isn't it just because you've grown up in a culture that believes such a thing that you have made that religious assumption? What if you had no knowledge of psychological theory as most of the world population does not...are you honestly putting forth the notion that, in that case, you would not inherently know that it was wrong to get a toddler drunk? We must quickly educate the developing world on modern psychological theory for the sake of the children. rubbish.

I'll take it a bit further. You are correct...both of these activities (and many more) are illegal in the U.S. Your assumption seems to be that if something was deemed illegal by the government that the issue was somewhat wrapped up. The government could decree gravity quit working tomorrow...but it won't. The government could decree that rape is not a crime tomorrow or that I can now give moonshine and porn to six year olds...but guess what. We would both know it was still wrong, wouldn't we. Even if we had no knowledge of psychology or physiology. I have to take the simple position that there must be a universal moral law that is evident and obvious to all men (as the bible says) because I just don't have as much faith as an athiest.

So you see...I agree (as does the bible) that Christianity requires faith...but NOT blind faith, as I would argue is required of the athiest...since the athiest worldview contradicts reality as we experience both in the area we are discussing and many, many others. We have been given amazing and obvious clues like the moral law, scientific laws, laws of logic, etc. that literally cannot be justified by any other worldview but Christianity. That is amazing evidence. Not some weak, blind faith.

I will also agree that some people who claim to be "Christians" are people who are blindly following arbitrary rules. Others, however, like myself believe we have found a beatiful truth that was hidden in front of us all along and have given our lives to it in service of the beautiful, holy, and majestic life giver who, by His grace, led us to His truth. I pray He will do the same for you. In the mean time...I would love to continue this discussion. At some point I may have to move it over to my blog, though, since this simply started out as an innocent santa claus post by my wife.

Diana said...

We are sold out born again believers, and we (gasp) celebrate Santa. My youngest is 7 (my youngest 2 are actually both 7 for this Christmas) and the doubts and questions are starting, the magic of the innocence and wonder is slowly disappearing, and it's been hard fought to protect it, you only get to be little once.

I was where you are with my first child (he's almost 15 now) and I remember the Christmas the guilt about "lying" destroyed Santa, and I remember his devestation that the story wasn't true. I also remember he, then 5, decided all by himself to believe again by the following year, he held out till he was about nine, and still gets the benefit as his siblings still believe. He is completely committed to God and Christ, and has no doubts about them being real because Santa turned out to be pretend.

I don't LIE to my kids, they say, "So and so says there's no Santa." And I ask them "What do you think?" And gloriously I bring to their recollection "The Polar Express," I remind them, when you stop believing the magic goes away...

Jesus and Santa are not on equal ground in our home, we talk about old St. Nick for about a month each year in our house, Jesus is the center of our lives every day. We send Santa a letter with hopes he might respond with a gift under our tree, we pray to the Lord every day with full expectation that He is listening and will respond according to what He knows is best for us. December 26th every year, Santa disappears for the next 11 months, Jesus remains our focus every day.

Am I mean to my children? I don't think I am, it's a fun and innocent tradition, and when the Christmas comes that Santa isn't brought up anymore, it will not be as though God Himself has abandoned them. As it is, at our house Santa brings each of our children three gifts, and he does it because he wants to remind my children about the three gifts mentioned in the bible that the magi brought Baby Jesus, and Santa does it because he loves Jesus and wants to remind all the children of the true Christmas story. Just like the Easter Bunny hides an empty egg for each of my children on Easter, and when they find it they shout out, "Jesus has risen!" because it's empty, just like the tomb. And every year they look forward most to finding the empty egg, not the one filled with candy.

I grew up believing in Santa, perhaps you did too, it didn't destroy my ability to believe in God... I strongly suspect it won't have that effect on my children either. We don't give him God-like qualities, there's no "he sees you when you're sleeping" other than in a song. They do believe I have the number to his hotline though, and I can report them to the naughty list. :)

Call me mean or deceitful? I might have to respond with the word "legalistic." Do you have a Christmas tree? What's the Christian perspective there? It's tradition and fun. When my kids start to let go of the imagination and wonder of Santa, CHRISTmas will still remain. I might tell them about the real St. Nicholas and how the tradition of Santa Claus came from an intention of honoring a man who loved the Lord and children. When we still celebrate CHRISTmas after the tradition of Santa has passed, I think they will (again) get the point, that Jesus is the Reason for the season. And I remind them of that now when they get too Santa focused. But Santa still makes CHRISTmas morning a little more fun and exciting, at least at our house.

I have a woman who chose not to be my friend because I asked her to ask her little boy not to tell my kids there was no Santa last year. I have wondered ever since how she balances her righteousness of "honesty" with her judgment of my "sin," that she would cast me aside because we disagree on something that is in no way "critical" to salvation or faith. I wonder what she taught her son about when she chose to separate our boys because of it... I think perhaps far worse a lesson than I do by allowing my children to hold to a little wonder a little longer.

Just something to think about from a differeing perspective. I don't judge you for your decision, please don't judge me for mine.

Michelle said...

So everyone knows...I'm ignoring the comments going on between my husband and the anon poster...I would love for them to take these to New Think...LOL

Diana, I see that you have put a lot of thought into your reasons for doing Santa. While I still TOTALLY disagree that it is anything but a lie to your children, I do NOT judge you and would never keep my kids from yours...if I lived near you. LOL.

I think that's a silly reason not to let your children play. Just so you know, we dont let our children discourage other children from believing...as I noted in my post.

But to get back to the topic. HOW DO YOU KNOW your children won't be affected? Do you lie about other things...from the sound of things no. Why would you choose this one area to lie about? Do you think there isnt joy in just giving gifts and stockings? There is no joy and wonder missing from Cmas by not having santa.

I find it unusual that you admit your oldest son questioned his beliefs but you still carry over santa, despite that. Would you tell me more...I'm interested.

I'm not trying to discourage you or be in your face and I truly hope I dont come off that way. I love knowing that you have put so much thought into your beliefs. Thanks for sharing them here.

And for the record...NOT believing is considered weird around here and among my friends. Everyone I know in real life and most on the internet, celebrate santa for christmas. We stand out.

Marcy said...

My husband and I decided even before we were married that we did not want to do Santa with our kids. We have our first one now and we plan to teach him about Jesus and give him gifts from us. Santa can be just another story book character that we read about just like any other book we read. I agree with you Michelle, I feel like we would be lying to our children by doing the Santa thing, and possibly causing them to question God later on.

Diana said...

Hi again. :)
First off I'm confused about saying my oldest questioning his beliefs... if I did, I meant in Santa, he has never questioned his belief in God or His Son, ever. In fact he amazes me sometimes how sure he seems.

I'm glad you'd still be my friend too by the way. I wouldn't shun you and yours either, thought I might avoid having the kids close together at Christmas. ;)

Like I said before, I don't lie to my kids, I do avoid their questions, and throw them back at them, but if they pinned me down face to face and would not accept my "what do you think" reply, I would tell them the truth, because you are right, I don't lie to my kids about anything else, and I don't lie in front of my kids ("tell them I'm not here" for an unwanted phone call, or "the check's in the mail" kind of lies.)

(Yes, we could get into a whole debate on lies of omission versus lies of intent, and 99% of the time I suspect you and I would agree, but this I am choosing to make my exception - don't tell my 14 year old!)

It's fantasy, it's a game, and I personally don't think it's going to harm them, and by your own statement that in your world most people do Santa, are most kids falling away from God when the realization comes that Santa isn't real?

Have you never kept a Christmas secret? If your child had a secret pal and someone worked hard to bless them, let's say you knew who it was, if they asked you, would you tell or would you keep the secret?

I do not think there would by no joy in Cmas (glad to see someone else who refuses to use the X) without Santa, but why do I have to sacrifice the joy of the tradition as it exists? Even when we eventually get caught and they realize Mom and Dad are really Santa, it's fun, it's playful.

I suppose if you back me into a corner, I cannot say that it won't affect my kids, but I also don't know that the effect will be negative, it can be (and I believe will be) a happy memory. It's a bet I choose to hedge, but one I feel safe that the odds are in my favor, based on personal history and the response I see in lives around me.

There is so much that we absolutely need to protect our kids from, but I don't think that the man in the big red suit is going to do any great harm, but I think there will be happy memories of cookies on the hearth and letters sent.

I will tell you this, I plan to talk to my oldest son this afternoon and get his take on it, since it would seem to be the freshest one, maybe I will even have him read up and reply himself.

I think Santa is a safe topic on which we can choose amicably to disagree and no one's going to head straight down the path of doom because of it.

I'll get back to you!

Michelle said...

Diana, I look foward to reading your sons response.

I can see that you havent taken this tradition lightly. And you also havent made santa an idol in the lives of you children.

In my opinion, take it for what's it's worth readers, they way you do santa isnt harmful at all.

Would you agree that the way the wold does santa could/can be harmful. How santa has become the focus of christmas and in fact an idol.

Your family is not doing that way...and I love seeing it.

Jill said...

Loved Diana's response...gotta say she covered it pretty good. Her traditions go along with mine.

Also, honestly I have never seen anyone or heard of anyone idolizing "santa". He's the guy who comes one time a year and is forgotten about the rest of the time.

I grew up in an unreligious home and I knew more about Jesus and cared more about him than "santa" (actually didn't even care about santa..it was a fun game and thats it!)...I also knew santa was imaginary, and Jesus is real.

Also, as a previous "santa" believer....he was NEVER the focus of Christmas when I was a kid. Our focus was family, giving, and love. And now that I have my own family the focus is Jesus. Which is the way that I think it should be.

I think the problem with how people celebrate Christmas is not to blame on "santa"or even peoples traditions....it's simply that people are not making Jesus the focus of their lives and on Christmas. You can take Santa away and you will most likely see the same reaction that you are seeing. Which is sad...but true. People make a choice to make Jesus the center of their lives regardless of "santa" or not.

The focus of Christmas is about Jesus....and if you have not done that in the past then maybe you should reconsider how you do things this year....its not too late! Anyways that's my two cents...lol.

Diana said...

OK, I'm finally back, been working at our church every night this past week for our Annual Christmas Tea for the women's ministry.

Wednesdsy night I had my son to myself in the car as he still had youth group at the church that night. I brought up the matter with him.

I said "Some people are concerned that telling kids there is Santa could be considered mean and that when you find out Santa isn't real it might make you question whether God and Jesus are real too, what do you think?"

Now please forgive the vernacular of the 14 year old boy but his exact words were, "That's just stupid." He didn't have a whole lot more to say than that, (also typical of the 14 year old male of the species). He said kind of what I said, Jesus is always the center and the focus and Santa is seasonal fun.

As for your question to me, I personally only know "pro-Santa" people who keep Santa in the same perspective in their home as I do. I would hope any Christian would know Jesus should be the true and only focus on the holiday... Let me put it like this, if you wanted to compare it to a Christmas dinner, Jesus isn't just the turkey, he's also the dressing, and the veggies and the potatoes, cranberry sauce Santa is maybe, MAYBE the gerkins in a dish at best. They're nice (for some) to have, but it doesn't change the holiday if someone forgets. And eventually when it's gets forgotten no one will ever really remember much about them being there in the first place. (Like Santa.)

As for people in the world, really they deserve our pity that they don't know the true meaning of Christmas, not out judgment. (Not to say you are judging.) The best we can hope is that the spirit of loving and giving might soften their hearts to the Truth behind it... and God can even use a big man in a red suit to touch a heart if He wants to. Because really, their eternity is on the line, but it has very little to do with Santa Claus.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Michelle said...

I've enjoyed this conversation. While I still disagree it was nice to see someone doing this with well thought out ideas, and not just doing it because they always have.

And just as a reminder to anyone reading this...learning about santa DID affect my husbands walk...and seriously upset Kori in a truly unexpected way...she started questioning everything at that point, wondering who was telling her the thruth and who was lying...she didnt even know if santa WAS real or not because she was so confused.

And I know MANY other people with similar experiences.

So just to say, that while your children may not have been affected that way, some children are...and for that I will always be against it.

But thank you for this awesome conversation...feel free to continue to post if you have anything to add.