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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Santa and Jesus: Buddies In Our House

(This is a response to a Facebook thread denouncing Christian parents for allowing children to believe in Santa, and hoping their kids would ruin it for others.)

My wife woke up every Christmas morning to Santa's bootprints on the carpet.

I had two older brothers, so my belief didn't last very long.

But after I no longer believed, my dad lost his job, and we hardly had enough money to eat, let alone buy presents. My parents were honest with us; they told us there was no money for presents.  But that Christmas Eve, we came home from church and there were all kinds of presents at the house. I knew no one had a key, and it was incredible to believe that Santa had been there. Later on, I found out it was my uncle, but a little boy who was expecting to get nothing had a wonderful Christmas because of that. And I truly believed that Santa had been there.  

First of all, I agree that you should never directly lie to your children about Santa.  Fair enough. We will never lie about it. But we are going to dance around it as long as we can!

And here's why. Children are innocent, especially nowadays, for such a short time. What's wrong with having something fun and exciting to look forward to at Christmas? Why should we take that away?

Childhood should be celebrated and savored, not cut short, and that's what is happening when parents relish telling their children the truth about Santa. You are taking away a piece of childhood.

Do we really tell our kids THE WHOLE TRUTH about everything in life the second they can understand it? NO. And it would be morally wrong to do so. Imagine this, "Hey 3 year-old, that's not really Mickey Mouse standing over there signing autographs. It's actually a small human adult dressed in a costume. In fact, it's probably a girl. And she may not even like children, but she's getting paid for it, so she does it. And at nights she works as a waitress in a bar and serves alcohol to men who want to forget that their wife left them because he worked too much. Plus, Mickey's not real. He's just a pawn in the Disney Corporation's scheme to take money from the pockets of hard working Americans." 

I've also heard the argument that if you allow your children to believe that Santa is real, and you also tell them that Jesus is Lord, then when they find out Santa isn't real, they may stop believing in Jesus. There's a huge difference here, and I'll try to make it as plain as I can. If Jesus is as real to you as Santa is, then your kids won't have a chance anyway. Belief in Santa is blind. One man with flying reindeer delivers thousands of tons of presents, at midnight, to 24 different time zones, to hundreds of millions of children; he keeps a list of good and bad kids, and doesn't die from a heart attack after eating 700 million cookies a year? Come on, the only reason kids believe in Santa is because parents allow their kids to believe.

On the other hand, Faith in the Christian God is well-grounded. It is the best explanation of life and the world we know. Christian parents can attest to a subjective experience with Christ, but they also have studied the world, thought about the nature of things, and have concluded that the best explanation is this:  Jesus of Nazareth, born in a manger, walked as a man, died, and was resurrected on the third day. There are over twenty thousand documents showing that the Bible we read is true and accurate (compared to 9 documents for something like Homer's Odyssey). Even the staunchest of Christianity's critics like Richard Dawkins admit that because of the incredible odds of sustaining life as we know it, that the world gives the appearance of Intelligent Design. There is the moral argument for God. There is the Cosmological Argument. There is no other explanation of even Christianity's existence today that makes sense EXCEPT that Jesus was physically raised from the dead and convinced his disciples that he was, in fact, alive again!

So parents, fear not. Allowing your kids to believe in Santa won't ruin them for life. Let them use their imagination and believe.

At age-appropriate times, when children are honestly seeking, and you can't avoid it anymore, then you have to tell them. But don't enjoy it. And certainly don't let your kids ruin it for others. 

So, if you want to cut short your kid's childhood, go for it, but don't blame Jesus, and don't tell my kids! I'll be having fun making ashy boot prints on the carpet.