Chickpastor’s Advent Calendar, Day 9

So, Santa.

Our family LOVES Elf. It’s my favorite of the new Christmas movies, because it’s everything a Christmas movie should be….silly, Christmasy, a bit of a love story, and makes you tear up at the end, in spite of yourself.

I’ve been involved in several discussions, one very recently, in which people asked why we would want to LIE to our children about Santa. I am serious.

But here’s the thing. I have never, ever lied to my children about Santa. I have told them that there are stories that say that Santa comes down the chimney, but that I have no idea how that would happen. I have told them that Santa is a saint from a long time ago that loved Jesus and wanted to make sure that all children had a present for Christmas (mostly true, but yipes, read at your own risk!). When they ask questions, we answer them. I have never, EVER threatened them with Santa or told them if they’re good, they get presents, if not…..whatever.

All that being said, this is why Santa comes to our house.

Christmas is magic. Lights in the darkness, trees, family, traditional meals, forgiveness and togetherness that doesn’t always happen. In most cultures that celebrate Christmas, there is a person who mysteriously leaves gifts behind for the children (in Italy, Befana; in Germany, Christkind or St. Niklaus; in Scandinavia, an elf or one of TWELVE Santas; the list goes on). I think this is because we want children to know the magic of Christmas. We want them to experience something that is fun and surprising and magical while they’re still open minded enough to believe in things like fairies and elves and angels and that there are forces for good in this world.

Recently my daughter said, perhaps prompted by breakfast with Santa at our church tomorrow morning, “Mom? I think that there are a bunch of Santas, but they all have the spirit of Santa inside them.” I wanted to cry, not for her lack of belief, but for her absolute “getting-it-ness,” her nine year old faith turning into a different kind of belief, with none of the magic gone.

That’s why I love Elf. If you can watch it and not tear up at the end when the hardened businessman starts singing Christmas carols, you may not have a pulse. It’s about the magic, and the believing, which I pray that we’ll ALL have even a moment of this Christmas.

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One thought on “Chickpastor’s Advent Calendar, Day 9

  1. I understand what you mean, to an extent, but even though you yourself aren’t lying about Santa we all know plenty of people who do (Santa won’t come if/Santa only bring gifts to people who believe in him/etc). I also know a number of adults who felt betrayed when they found out the truth. Some stopped believing in God at that point, deciding that it must all be fake (a logical fallacy to be sure, but it says something about our society that children put them on equal footing), and I recently heard a woman say that after she found out her mother lied about Santa, she never believed or trusted her about anything else, ever again.

    So we don’t “do” Santa. The kids have empty stocking on Christmas Eve that are full of stuff on Christmas morning. We don’t say where that stuff comes from. We don’t talk about Santa unless our kids bring it up.

    We focus on the Christmas story (the real one), which brings me to my final point. I’ve heard so many people talk about Santa as the magic of Christmas. I have yet to understand that. What’s *not* magical about Immanuel–God With Us? Even if the Christian Christmas story is a bit contrived (ok, maybe he wasn’t really born on Christmas and maybe we can point to various factual errors in the story), there’ something incredibly magical about God coming to earth in human form–about God arriving as a tiny baby born to a teen mother who accepted this task willingly and about the fact that it changed *everything*. And when I sit in the darkened, candlelit church on Christmas Eve and sing the songs we’ve sung for centuries and contemplate the wonder and the mystery of it all, I can’t help but wonder why no one else sees it. It doesn’t take a red suit and reindeer. The light shining in the darkness, the magic of a baby that (supposedly) doesn’t cry, the visits by the angels and shepherds and magi–that’s all plenty magical too. And when I look back to Christmas as a child, my favorite memories aren’t of Santa, but are of attending the 11 pm Christmas Eve service with my mom’s extended family and listening to the hymns and watching the choir process and feeling amazed by it all, not least by the fact that when the service was over, it would in fact be Christmas, and the Savior was born, and we could rejoice.

    If people want to do Santa too, I don’t have a problem with it, though I am very tired of our culture’s belief that my children aren’t getting to experience the magic of Christmas. I understand when the sentiment comes from the secular folks (because what else do they have, really?) but when there’s already an amazing story to tell, and when our worship expresses the desire that Christ return to earth now in this season of preparation for his coming, I feel like there’s no shortage of magic at all.

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