Santa, A bit too much “…like the Most High”
In a few short days, Christmas will be here in spite of the complaints from atheists, the antichristian, and others with diverse beliefs. And despite the resistance, the holiday will come, and the larger portion of Americans will celebrate it, for the better or for the worse.
Recently, due largely to complaints from a parent, one elementary school had to rename its Christmas celebration because the central figure of the affair was bringing undue attention to religion. In this case though, the central figure was not a baby in a manger, or an angel, or even a shepherd. No this sacred icon of religious history was non other than Santa Clause. “Breakfast with Santa” had to be changed to “Winter Breakfast” or something like that and had to include Frosty the Snowman, so as to be reasonably diverse.
Now, while I understand the religious connections of the supposedly historical Saint Nick, I have never considered the modern day version particularly religious, and I certainly refuse to give him equal place with Christ or any other individual in the Nativity Story. If any thing, I have always viewed him as the antithesis of the true Christmas Spirit. It seems to me he has in fact, become a cultural substitute for Jesus, rather than a colleague.
Pagan roots aside, Santa is admittedly an awful lot like Christ. He possesses many Godly attributes. He seems to be omniscient, able to see children twenty-four hours a day. He too is a champion of good rather than evil. He is able to fly and comes as a thief in the night. He matches the Biblical description of Christ right down to the red suit (Rev. 19:13), the white hair and beard (Rev. 1:14), and even the merry “Ho Ho” (Zech. 2:6). However, as Christ like as Santa seems, two serious problems arise.
By and large the glory of Santa is fundamentally a materialistic happiness. His rewards are temporal and destructible. They appeal to the flesh and become more pleasurable as the cost goes up. They satisfy for a while until the novelty wears off, and then must be replaced by newer, more up-to-date versions. The simplistic and genuine are cast aside for the faddish and trendish.
A second more serious problem is that, unlike Christ, Santa Clause is unable to make good on his promises. Every year the dark side of the Santa Clause legend surfaces as poverty, criminal activity, personal tragedy, and even death, shatter the illusion, making it a sadly obvious that Santa Claus is ill-equipped to live up to his hero status. One of the harshest realities of this season is that Santa does not visit every house and bring joy into the heart of every little boy and girl.
Parents valiantly attempt, some unsuccessfully, or at the risk of financial ruin to perpetuate the myth and fantasy, but the cold, sad truth is that we live in a world that does not always lend itself to happy endings. Charitable groups try to compensate, but sin and evil have created a degenerating nightmare that neither Santa nor his human accomplices are able to overcome. In the end, the materialistic, temporal, and insufficient emblems of happiness fall short, and the void left by man’s sin is still gaping and yearning to be filled.
Children need to be given a greater spiritual gift of more eternal proportions, a gift that finds it basis in truth rather than legend and deception. This Christmas season, let us focus on the true Spirit of Christmas, The Spirit of Christ. Share the Joy and Peace that can only come from the knowledge that our future is secure and our Hope is in the Lord. I leave you with this poem I wrote many years ago. Merry Christmas!
Whose Day Is It Anyway
Santa Clause has come to town
Tearing Jesus’ message down.
Commercializing all the earth,
Shadowing our Savior’s birth.
Little minds know Santa’s fame,
Yet rarely mention Jesus’ name.
Toys and presents take the place
Of Jesus’ gift of perfect Grace.
So stop and think this Christmas day.
Whose day is it, anyway?