I read this the other day written by Nancy French outing herself as a "Santa Truther" and meaning that she will tell her children that, there is no Santa Claus. And her husband, David French, who writes often on National Review Online's The Corner backed his wife after she was pummeled with outrage by many.
Oh, did I mention that both are conservatives?
So what gives? Why do they have Santa hate?
I get the thrust of what Mrs. French wrote. That Santa Claus, as he is presented today, is a far cry from the story of St. Nicholas. And that the Reason for the Season, the birth of Jesus Christ, is a much better story to begin with.
I do not disagree that the Reason for the Season is the truth of Christmas for those of us that are practicing Christians. But if one reads about the "legends" of St. Nicholas with an open mind, he was carrying out the message of the Gospel. The one account that seems to be where the current Santa Claus derives from is that St. Nicholas heard of a poor father of three daughters and because of their lowly status, the father could not afford the dowry to marry them off properly and to a better life. St. Nicholas wanted to help but would not do so publicly. So he went to the man's house one night with three purses of gold coins. One for each daughter. Thus, the father had the funds to marry them off and hopefully to a better life. Now another version is that this was done over three nights. And still another has this being done over a period of three years.
The point being that St. Nicholas was giving away to help others.
So the modern Santa Claus is derived from St. Nicholas. As well as a pagan god named Odin. Santa is a lot of different things to different people.
But, for myself as a Christian, I celebrate Santa because of the Christian origin of St. Nicholas. And if properly taught and told by parents, one can believe in Santa not as a fantasy but a reminder of our role as Christians to be a beacon for all. To be willing to give of their time and talents to those who do not know the Christian message.
Before I go on, I would totally agree that Christmas is overly commercialized. That to an extent, it has ruined the meaning of St. Nicholas and Santa Claus. We as a society worry way too much about what we are getting people that we forget it is not the gift or gifts but what they show we mean of those we know and or don't know.
The past two weekends, I have been a Santa Claus at my church.
The first Saturday was for our preschool kiddies. Because our school has a good reputation and is in a high-income area, well overwhelmingly these kiddies were more than likely going to get whatever they asked for. Part of what I do is make a grand entrance and shake hands and wish the people, kiddies and parents and anyone else a Merry Christmas. I go to my special chair and the kiddies waiting start to sit on my lap. Then I ask their name and if they have been a good boy or girl. Then I ask what they want for Christmas. Because this is a strictly preschool group, most can barely get out a coherent sentence. And this year, most asked for something electronic that did ask. Most important Santa rule, never, ever promise anything. Ever. And I don't. I just tell them to keep being good and I will see them on Christmas Eve.
OOOHHH! I am LYING to these kiddies, right? Because I will not be personally seeing them at all. Because I am NOT Santa Claus, right? And thus, according to the French's, I am a liar.
Well, I get back to that.
This past weekend I was Santa for our church's transitional housing program for addicts. These kiddies, they have already had a life full of disappointment. I certainly do not want to add to that. And I don't think that I do. The predominate thing that these kiddies wanted for Christmas is a puppy. That warms my heart as a dog lover. Again, no promises made. I only hope that some of these children will be able to get their puppy for Christmas.
I don't believe that I am doing any psychological damage to these children. I am simply offering myself to show that someone cares to take time to be with them, get a photo, and put a smile on their face.
I think that a part of the French's disdain for Santa Claus is that it derives from Roman Catholicism and the belief in venerating saints. As a Protestant that belongs to a liturgical denomination that has named most of their churches after saints, we believe in their goodness, but not to venerate them. I refer to Article 21 of the Articles of Religion:
The Romish doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshiping, and adoration, as well as Images as of Relics, and also the Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.
But that does not mean we don't look at the totality of the saint's life and what they did in the name of Christ. And St. Nicholas did wonders in the name of Christ.
And Santa Claus is simply a derivative of this.
And should be treated as such.
And not something to be feared by anyone that is a Christian.
Don't be a Santa Truther. Tell the full story of Santa to your child. And you will be better for it and happy this Christmas season.
Conservatives, don't fight it. Embrace it.