Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Somewhat Controversial Post...
You've Been Warned

I have already mentioned that my family does the Santa Claus thing and I also said that if you don’t do the Santa Claus thing I totally respect that…and I do. As long as you aren’t being arrogant about it.

So last week I heard from a friend about some acquaintances of hers who don’t do Santa Claus. Their reason: they don’t want “lie” to their kids. I have a little bit of a problem with this, not because they aren’t doing it but because of their reasoning. I think it is so incredibly sanctimonious. Yes, I said SANCTIMONIOUS. How about you come down from your holier than thou parenting high horse and spend a little time in reality? The best part: they do the tooth fairy. Yes, that other fictitious character who apparently IS ok to “lie” about because she doesn’t live in the North Pole. Or MAYBE its because she doesn’t share a holiday with the celebration of the birth of Christ so THAT makes it ok to lie to their kids about.

If you’re going to be a pompous Christian then please, be forthcoming about it.

I know quite a few families who don’t do the Santa thing but their reasoning is they want the full focus to be on the birth of Jesus. Now that I can respect because it is a statement that isn’t filled with the implication that everyone else who is doing the Santa thing is going to hell or is a bad parent who is a lying sack of crap. Also, it isn’t a lie wrapped in self-righteous BS disguised as good parenting.

Santa Claus isn’t a lie; he’s a child’s developmentally appropriate suspension of disbelief and amazing, short-lived ability to make-believe. Children NEED fantasy. The American Psychological Association’s most recent findings on the topic show that children who are encouraged to play make-believe and indulge in fantasy actually have greater academic success in later years. A 2008 USAToday article actually claimed that make-believe and fantasy play were VITAL in a child’s development of empathy, learning, creativity and problem-solving allowing them to conquer their fears and explore their hopes and dreams.

And just in case those 2 sources are too pagan, then how about what Dr. James Dobson (whom I rarely agree with) wrote in a 2008 edition of his magazine Focus on the Family, “I understand the concerns expressed by many Christian parents about the pagan celebration of Christmas. They don’t want to link Santa Claus, a mythical figure, with the reality of the baby Jesus who was born in Bethlehem of Judea. They have good reason to fear that they might weaken the validity of the Christmas story by mixing it with fantasy.

“So this is the dilemma – Santa is fun, but Santa could be confusing...Shirley and I chose to play the “Santa game” with our kids, and we had no difficulties teaching them who Jesus was and is.

“What is best? I don’t know. But if I had to do it over, I would still let my children thrill to the excitement of Santa’s arrival down the chimney on Christmas Eve.”

I’m not trying to persuade anybody to do or not to do the Santa thing. I’m only saying that whatever reasoning you have please don’t be pious about it. You’re not impressing anyone and in fact you may be turning people off to your faith. And if you use the “not going to lie to my children” excuse then, for crying out loud, stick to it for everything. That includes the tooth fairy. And the next time your child wants to play doctor and asks you if you’re sick, I would really like it if you told him “no, and by the way you are not a doctor”. And when your daughter takes a Burger King straw and tries to use it as a magic wand I’d like you to interject a little reality in to her world and tell her there is no such thing as magic and please take that scarf off, it isn’t a pair of wings.


Rafferty Family said...

It seems the issue is more about pious Christians than Santa.

Joy for the Seasons said...

I always enjoy discussion on this topic...like you, as long as the person on the other side is not being self-righteous (I am on the side of no Santa but respect others' decision to do it).

Rafferty Family said...

Actually I've been thinking this morning (Jen, you are always thought provoking), and I think the issue for me isn't so much the "pious Christians" but rather being inconsistent in what you preach.

The Spirit leads us all differently according to our faith/maturity. Romans 14:22-23 If you believe the Holy Spirit is leading you to something then be consistent in obeying that in all areas. I am the first to admit that I'm inconsistent in my Christian walk. Parenting, a large part of our walk/life, is tough and it wears you down and even the most vigilant mommy will likely be inconsistent in at least one area.

Let us pray for our brothers and sisters in that they will let there yes be yes and their no be no. Pray they would be convicted of any areas where the Spirit would have them to grow/change. And pray that we all would honor Christ in all aspects of our Christian walk from parenting to celebrating Christmas to vacuuming (which I'm not doing because I'm commenting on your blog).

Jen, you know from whence I've come (I just wanted to use the word whence), and you know how much I've grown in maturity. I shudder when I remember some of the things I used to say/teach/do/preach and thankful that faithful friends and family prayed for me. This is just a praise to God, like I said I've been thinking all morning, and thanks that God has worked a great deal in my life and is continuing to make me more into His image.

Anonymous said...

The True story of Santa Claus..

We recently studied this in church. Saint Nicholas was a real person and loved Jesus. So Santa Claus and Jesus are BOTH ok to celebrate in this season... My favorite ornament is one where Santa is kneeling at the manger offering Jesus a present. That was what drove old Saint Nick, giving for Jesus' sake.

I borrowed this from www.stnicholascenter.org

The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.

Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests, and deacons, there was no room for the real criminals—murderers, thieves and robbers. After his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church, where a unique relic, called manna, formed in his grave. This liquid substance, said to have healing powers, fostered the growth of devotion to Nicholas. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, December 6th (December 19 on the Julian Calendar).

Through the centuries many stories and legends have been told of St. Nicholas' life and deeds. These accounts help us understand his extraordinary character and why he is so beloved and revered as protector and helper of those in need.
One story tells of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman's father had to offer prospective husbands something of value—a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man's daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so St. Nicholas is a gift-giver.

Merry Christmas to all and may God's grace and mercy surround you everyday.

In Love,

Christy said...

Jen, The Rafferty family pretty much summed it up so beautifully.

I have a hard time with this because I know this family you are talking about and I don't believe you have all the information.

I wish you would have talked to them first, because this family is not like you are making them out to be. I'm sure there could be more than one....but what are the odds?

Bex said...

I loved this line from your post: "Santa Claus isn’t a lie; he’s a child’s developmentally appropriate suspension of disbelief and amazing, short-lived ability to make-believe". That is a well-worded, articulate and reasonable "defense" for Santa. I'm going to have to use that line when we have kids. :-) Great post.

Melissa said...

You know, I am a firm believer that teaching our children that Jesus is the "reason for the season" is far more important than Santa. However, I began the life of just me and my boys a couple of years ago by explaining to them that Santa is not real, but a fictional character. But, just as you re-stated the point from the American Psychological (whatever they are), my boys have decided that I am lying to them and have chosen to believe in Santa. This is of their own accord, which I have decided is quite harmless so long as they understand the true reason we celebrate Christmas, and why we do gifts. So, I say let your children believe in Santa if they want....... it doesn't last all that long anyway.

Heather said...

Santa comes to my house and he delivers a birthday present for Jesus too!

I think the kids who don't know Santa miss out. I'm also pretty sure that your kids as well as Easton will know that we celebrate CHRISTmas because we are celebrating the birth of Jesus.

I respect those who don't do Santa because they want their focus on soley the birth of Jesus. But I also look back on my childhood and know that Santa never detered what I believed Christmas to be. The day we celebrate Christs birth. We've had birthday cakes for Jesus and we have also had my neices and nephews each give Jesus a special gift for his birthday. They didn't buy him anything. They each decided something that they would do this year for Jesus. Things like try to be more like him, tell their friends about him, go to Sunday school and AWANA every week and not complain. Kind of like a New Years resolution, we write it down for them and put it in a box and wrap it for Jesus.

We hope that you and your family have an AMAZING Christmas!

Hearts and stuff!

Sara Kane said...

Love it! Play is VITAL for developmentally appropriate practice! Yay! There have been a bajillion (is that a number?) studies that show that pretend play is vital in early childhood. It helps kids develop critical thinking skills. And you know I adore Jesus and am a big fan of the fat, jolly old fellow as well! Also, I am still bitter at James Dobson for the fact that I had to go to dumb church parties instead of celebrating Halloween with my friends at school. Bad move Dobson bad move.

Jennifer said...

I'm positive you DO NOT know this family and regardless, it isn't about the family. It isn't even really about Santa Claus (as Bug first stated) it is about piety.

imbrownie said...

This is probably one of the only quotes from Dobson that I respect. That and the one where he said "I'm old and outdated."

I don't know if he actually said that, but he should.

Devon said...

Good post. I too enjoy this discussion wherever it is had.

To me, people get too up in arms about not believing in Santa. I believed in Santa until I was 10, and yet, strangely, it has not stunted my ability to be a Christian, nor has it affected me adversely in any other area of my life: I don't resent my mother for lying to me, etc.

Santa is a symbol of goodwill and magic--the good kind. Children have such a small window where they get to have magic before life is thrown on them. What does it harm to let them believe? If your three year old asks you where babies come from, are you going to give her a complete, detailed description of how babies are made? Good heavens, no. People lie to their children all the time about things like that. So what's the harm in Santa?

So basically, I agree with everything you wrote. Good post. :)