What’s up With Santa?

I’m not the nicest person, so I’ll just come out and say it: Why do (most) Christians lie to their children about “Santa”? Ever since I was a child, and came to understand that “Santa” was just an idea. not a real living being that visited our house via the chimney, I have wondered – and asked – how otherwise good parents could tell this lie. And it IS a lie. Children don’t understand that Santa isn’t real in the sense that they think of “real”. They don’t get it that Santa is part of the supposed “spirit” of (secular) Christmas. They certainly don’t expect the very people who tell them not to tell a lie… to tell a lie.

Bah, humbug?

Actually, yes, thank you, humbugs are a real type of candy, and I like candy.

Santa? Not so much.

Friends with children/grandchildren tell me things like “Santa makes Christmas fun for the kids” and “They are so excited on Christmas morning” and “It doesn’t hurt anyone and it’s so much fun!”

Well, yes, it is fun. It’s fun unless Santa doesn’t come down YOUR chimney. It’s fun unless you remain gullible for years longer than your peers – because parents don’t lie, because parents don’t want an older child to “ruin” Christmas for their younger siblings. It’s fun unless you’re forced to sit on an unhappy stranger’s lap for pictures and he isn’t the least bit interested in your Christmas wishes and you can tell he hates his job.

Maybe I was just an overly sensitive child. well, yes, I was an overly sensitive child. Department store Santas were, in my little mind, in the same category as circus clowns – nasty men in make-up who enjoyed scaring children while putting on a show of kindness-happiness-playfulness for the parents.

I remember seeing a news story about clothes and toy donations for needy children so that they could “have a visit from Santa, too.” I wondered why people would need to donate clothes and toys for the kids when Santa just brought those things to me and my friends. I wondered why my friend down the road only got a few things in a stocking “from Santa” when I had a stocking full and many boxed presents labeled “from Santa”. I wondered why another friend got very expensive presents. There seemed to be no equity or reason to how Santa dolled out the goods.

And no one ever got the threatened stocking full of coal.

But I do know a story of some children who did get coal on Christmas. My mom’s best childhood friend and her brother had done something rotten several days before Christmas – oh, this must have been around 1940 or so. When my mom excitedly ran up the road to show her friend the new doll Santa had given her, she found a house in mourning. Stocking full of coal were hanging from the mantel, and no presents were under the tree. Santa had been watching, and the naughty had felt his displeasure.

My mom was mortified. Even telling this tale many years later, it’s obvious how bad she felt that day. She cried along with her friend. She couldn’t understand why Santa had been so mean. She was ashamed of getting gifts when her friend got only coal.

That story does have a happier ending, though. Several days later, after what their parents deemed adequate penitence – or more likely when their parents couldn’t stand the morose pall any longer – the gifts appeared.

Ho ho ho.

Every year, people rush out for last minute gift-buying. People tussle over limited numbers of “hot” toys that their kids just have to have. Parents worry that they didn’t buy enough. Parents watch their kids enjoy the boxes more than the items they contained.

Santa doesn’t do any of this shit. The elf on the shelf is a silly little doll who sees and hears nada. And speaking of elves, there are no elves at the North Pole laboring away over their cheap plastic crap extruders. Reindeer do not fly pulling a magic sleigh. It’s all a lie.

Except for the Grinch. The Grinch is real. There are multiple Grinches, and I am one of them.

“It came without packages, boxes or bags…”

Christmas isn’t about Santa. It is about so much more, and I don’t just mean “the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ”. Christmas is as much a pagan celebration as a Christian holy day. We have passed the darkest days – now light begins to conquer darkness. Days become longer than nights. The promise of Spring is made. We see hope ahead. No wonder ancient people celebrated this time of year. Santa didn’t come into it at all – it seemed magical none the less.

I will never understand the logic behind the lie that is perpetuated in the guise of “fun”. If Santa is not real, how can Jesus be real? How can anyone who is worried about “taking the ‘Christ’ out of Christmas” work so hard at making him compete with Santa?

Bah, humbug. But think about it. In ‘A Christmas Carol’, Scrooge did not “find Santa”, he found the spirit of Christmas.

And there is no lie in that.

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