Part 2: My War Against Santa
One might think it strange for me to title this section “My War Against Santa”, after all, who could be against Santa? Doesn’t he bring joy and hope to millions of children? Or perhaps you would compare this feud to Dan Quayle’s against the fictitious Murphy Brown? In any event, my great complaint against Santa is that he is lie. The developed mythology of Santa (complete with reindeer, elves, and a base on the North Pole) as well as his miraculous omniscience and near omnipresence on Christmas Eve is a complete fabrication. There is not, nor has never been a person like Santa and yet so many Americans readily spread the falsehood of the Santa story. I find it deplorable that parents willing indoctrinate their children with this drivel. Now don’t think I hate everything fiction. It serves as a wonderful tool to entertain and inspire and allows for massive amounts of creativity. The problem arises when one attempts to portray fiction as historical or present reality. Although relatively minor, how many children think Pocahontas married John Smith (as opposed to John Rolfe) due to the efforts of Disney? Why is it socially acceptable to lie to children at such a massive level as is done with Santa Claus?
Growing up, like most people these days, I was told the Santa lie. When I discovered the truth, I suppose I was more disappointed that anything else. Some folks have had a similar response, for example, I draw your attention to the writings of one Christian Scientist. I would expect that this reaction was not merely an isolated incident and that others have felt similarly betrayed. However, unlike that author, I have no real interest in “playing the Santa game”. Most people that I know believe that the myth of Santa Claus is harmless and is all in good fun, but I disagree. After all, if you can’t trust your parents and your close relatives to tell you the truth, whom can you trust? Aren’t children generally trusting by nature? Should we reward such trust with deception, even if this deception has a pleasing face? I say no.
Another great problem with the Santa issue is assigning credit where it is not due. For example, why would some people choose to give gifts but claim that they are from Santa instead? I assure you that when I spend my time and funds to purchase a present, I’ll typically (for there are a few exceptions) let the recipient know from whom the gift came. Should your children be grateful to a made-up man from the frozen north or their supportive parents? To me, this rhetorical question is so obvious that any argument to the contrary seems ludicrous. Another point to consider is the many miracles Santa has supposedly performed. After all, short of a miracle, how could one man visit so many households in such a small amount of time armed with limitless knowledge and funding? Normally, of course, he could not. Therefore, if we expand our thoughts to theology, he must possess god-like powers that either he himself makes manifest or is granted to him by a deity. Both options present troubling conclusions as they both, by their very nature, lead to worship and adoration of Santa. Although seemingly innocent, how many children send letters to Santa and visit him at the mall? Now, how many offer him secret or not so secret bedtime prayers for material salvation? Has he not become a god with whom they can interact in a very tangible sense? After all, they can see him, touch him, talk to him, and get gifts from him. Is making Santa a god the kind of morality we wish to infuse in our youth?
To those who consider themselves moral in the audience, let me offer a few thoughts from my own theology. As Jesus said, “…If your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not!” (Matthew 7:9-10) NLT. As children depend upon their parents for sustenance, don’t they look to them for their morality and truth as well? Should you want your faith from your children falter once they discover your lies of Santa? And what about your faith in your god? If you son or daughter finds you lying about one miraculous being (Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, etc.), how can he or she trust your words about the other? I don’t care how socially acceptable or not the Santa myth is. Truth is truth and truth must be dutifully protected. How can you, like an adulterous woman, spread the lie of Santa and then, “…shrug her shoulders, and then say, ‘What’s wrong with that?’” (Proverbs 30:20) NLT. Do you not see the hypocrisy of these acts?
Although I am quite aware that the deeply entrenched fable of Santa will continue to ensnare the hopes and imaginations of children and those who support this fabrication will continue to do so without regret or remorse, I urge you to think differently. Certainly I will not run through the streets shouting, “There is no Santa” even though we both know that I am right, for it is not my place to usurp the function of the parent…but, on the other hand, I will not simply go along and agree with the lie simply for the sake of social harmony. I am well aware that such a stance can strain relations, at it has done in my own extended family, but, at the end of the day, at least I try, in this way, to avoid deceiving the most trusting souls among us. Doesn’t your own morality demand likewise?
Update: After writing this piece, I wondered if I should have compared the concept of Santa to the nanny state, as both will supposedly give you whatever you desire in exchange for strict obedience. This morning, I see that Tatsuya Ishida over at Sinfest did just that. Of course, we discover that his character draws this comparison not so much for ideological reasons, but as a result of disappointing Christmas gifts. Hilarious. Though I hope you don’t think I’m just mad about getting a pair of socks too…