Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A New Christmas Blog

While I was in India I had the pleasure of getting to know an older, gray headed Englishman by the name of Keith. Keith and I shared a 10x10 room , went to work together on the worlds most crowded bus, and lived life together for those two weeks. Needless to say we had many fun and enlightening conversations. Keith is a devout atheist while I am a devout follower of Christ. This no doubt led to some interesting conversations. I can remember walking down the street one day when Keith looked at me and said,"You know, I used to believe in Santa Clause."

I chuckled, "I know where your going with this," I said. "I've made this same argument, for different reasons of course but still, the same argument."

"I used to believe in Santa Clause but then I grew up and found out that he wasn't real. You know I used to believe in God? But then I wised up. God and Santa, both imaginary, things people make up to make themselves feel good. They may be fun but they aren't real."

Keith was a logical person, an intelligent person, well read, a world traveler, and this was logic. Keith wasn't the first person that I've come to know who as a child or as an adult came to these same conclusions. After all, they are logical. My mother is one of those people who for a period of time doubted the existence of God for these same reasons.

At what point did tradition trump morality? When did it become acceptable to lie for the sake of fun? Right and wrong isn't determined by the out come of a situation, family tradition, how fun it is, or what everyone else is doing. I'll leave you with a few more stories that I was told last year.

"It was a let down. I was in second grade and had suspected there was a cover up for a while. The creepy thing was, I told my mother I knew there was no Santa and she got this peeved look in her eye and said, "Children who don't believe in Santa don't get Christmas gifts". I was stunned. So, I said, "I guess I believe then". With that bit of creepiness, I went on to pretend to believe in Santa for years. Strangest part is that she responded similarly when I stopped being Christian."

"I can't remember how old I was (probably around 8). I remember I was obsessing about getting my Christmas list done so I could give it to Santa. I was trying to find good paper for it and I was probably annoying my parents to no end. I remember getting a slip of wrapping paper and announcing that I was about to write my list.

That's when my dad told me to come to him. He said that they made up Santa Clause and that he wasn't real. I was devastated. I really did believe in him with all my little heart. It felt like the magic of Christmas shattered before my very eyes. He said that all parents tell their kids the same story. I asked why they would do such a mean thing- to make them believe in something and then tell them it isn't true. He said that it was so parents could give gifts to their children without taking the credit for giving them. I understood that side of the arguement, but I was angry and heartbroken that parents would put their children through that. I asked him why he told me and he said it was because I was old enough to know.

After that, I didn't want to write my list. He told me to do it, though, and so like a good little girl I obeyed. However, the list seemed to be significantly less important to me that year.

It never occurred to me to question the existence of God right then and there, but I did wonder about it later. I mean, if they lied to me about one man doing miraculous things, why wouldn't a supernatural, all-seeing, all-knowing being be a lie as well?

I know it seems nothing, but I really did believe in Santa with every fiber of my being, and that experience was absolutely unforgettable. Since then, I have vowed never to tell my children about him- or at least I would say that it's just a story from the very beginning. Strangely enough, I haven't changed my mind all these years. "

20 comments:

Kelly said...

I never really thought about this issue until I had children. And I have to agree with you. Just because everyone else does it, doesn't make it right. Yes, there are those of us that were not devastated when we found out, and that didn't question the existance of God, but still lying is lying. And if I lie to my children, how can I teach them that lying is wrong? I once heard this comparision and thought it interesting-Santa Claus=Satans Paws.

Prairie Chick said...

I think Santa falls under "acceptable syncretism" in our society. We can shove him in beside Jesus the way the Israelites brought gifts both to the high places of Ashtoreth and the Most High God and we. don't. see it. We are as blind as they were. Until you see it. Then you see it. But Denial and Justification are two very busy spiritual beings. I like that you say what you think but are not judgemental, I strive to be the same.

T5M said...

It's a total lie - I struggle with it, as a Christian, but I still do it.

Uhg.

darthmom said...

We don't make a big deal out of Santa at our house but my 2 younger kids believe in Santa. My oldest who just turned 12, figured out sometime between last year and this year that Santa is really mom and dad (finally some credit!)and he was not upset about it. If I took my girls who are 7 and 8 aside and said "Santa doesn't exist -- we've all been lying to you!", I know they would be upset. And of course there are kids at school who tell them there is no Santa, so eventually they will figure it out when they are ready to. In the past, they have asked me questions about Santa and I always say "I don't really know anything about how Santa works." -- neither confirm nor deny! I made this comment in Ryan's post on the subject, but I don't worry that my kids won't believe in Jesus because Santa's not real, because at our house we talk about Santa a few weeks out of the year but we talk about God all year long. We pray to God and thank Him for everything all year long. We’ve never prayed to Santa Claus! No one ever even thanks Santa Claus for the presents he supposedly left (my girls have thanked Jesus for Santa Clause!). We also don’t hear about Santa Claus at church every week, we don’t read a bible about Santa Claus, we don’t worship Santa Claus, or try to teach our kids to have a personal relationship with Santa Claus, etc. So Dan, if you see my girls at kid's church, don't you tell them there is no Santa and break their little hearts!!

DanThoms said...

I only tell if I'm asked. I have a scripted answer that is very nice but if a kid asks me if there is a Santa Clause I will say no.

darthmom said...

I will forbid my children to speak to you until after the holidays!

Andrea said...

I don't think you should tell a child that Dan! You should tell them to ask their parents and not get involved, or those are my thoughts.

Tessa said...

Darthmom, your kids may not doubt God, but they may doubt your credibility when they realize the truth. Why would you (in the name of fun or tradition or whatever) lead your kids to believe in something that when they learn the truth will "break their little hearts"?! I am the mom of 4 happy kids (ages 10, 7, 4 and 1) who don't believe in Santa and thoroughly enjoy Christmas.

darthmom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
darthmom said...

Because I'm just a really bad mom!

Ron said...

darthmom -- you are a really bad mom. Your children will likey grow up to be drug addicts and prostitutes because you allowed them to believe in Santa Claus when they were little. Shame on you.

DanThoms said...

Andrea - kids don't ask me that question too often. When they do though here is what I say, "No, there is not really a Santa Clause. What happens is your parents buy you all those presents because they love you and stick them under the tree."

This is Santa we're talking about here. I'm not giving other peoples kids the birds and the bees talk. If a kid asks me if Mickey Mouse is real I say no, is Goofy really a talking dog no, is Santa real no. After all we are just dealing with a silly fantasy here, right?

Andrea said...

If my child one day (in a very backwards world) asks you before they ask me, I would appreciate you directing the question to me. If my child asks me @ 5 or 6 if Santa is real I will tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Until that day I will let the fantasy live on. I must feel this way because my Mom and Dad made Christmas so magical every year and for a few of those years Santa part of that magic. My question is what if you do everything right and your child still questions God? What will the excuse be then?

DanThoms said...

a) Ok, so in this hypothetical situation that your child asks me and I direct this question to you. Are you in turn going to say no Santa is not real? Truthfully though, you had just better pray to God that your kid doesn't ask me.

b) No one does a perfect job of raising their child. The whole questioning God thing is just one thing that does sometimes happen. Lying is wrong regardless of the results. I could sum the entire Santa issue by just quoting the 10th commandment.

c) I make it my goal in life to suck the magic right out of Christmas. Ok, thats not true but when you take the stance that I do thats what you are told. I've dealt with it for my entire life so I'm used to it and it doesn't phase me.

Andrea said...

in regards to A.) I would tell my child the truth if they questioned Santa, whether they are 3 or 8, but they must ask. Honestly, I never asked my parents. I just found out and it all made sense. I was talking to Chris about this last night and we were trying to come up with an instance where you would tell a fib in the best interest of the child. like if your child can't sleep because they are afraid of bad people coming to get them. you would instantly assure your child no one will get them, but I suppose it is possible. Or your child asks what the two humping dogs across the street are doing. You would tell them "They are just playing." Instead of saying well those dogs are having sex. So, those are my instances. Sometimes you do it, no matter how hard you try not to. Will your child say, "Mom you said they were just playing, but someone at school told me they are doing the nasty! You lied!" I seriously doubt your credibility would take a hit for these small fibs.

DanThoms said...

Rationalization- to ascribe (one's acts, opinions, etc.) to causes that superficially seem reasonable and valid but that actually are unrelated to the true, possibly unconscious and often less creditable or agreeable causes.

Tessa said...

I completely agree with you, Dan. Andrea, in the examples you gave supporting fibbing to children, lying is still unnecessary. When my kids ask about bad people coming in at bedtime I would tell them this... "God is watching over you and He will protect you. Daddy and I are here to take care of you. God gave us a stong house with locks." And then I pray for them out loud that God will protect them and calm their fears and give them good rest. They should be always be taught to give their cares to God. As for the dog example, you tell them the truth at a level they can handle. For an older child, you can tell all, but for a young child, you can say "That's just what dogs do." or something like that. If my child came home using terminology like "doing the nasty" I'd feel like we had a much larger problem then them seeing dogs in the act. You still should (and are commanded) to tell the truth even when its not comfortable or easy. Fibbing is a slippery slope!

MaLady said...

Hi Dan, I agree with you but don't think it's necessary to be so cut and dry - I wrote this on Ryan's blog so I'll add it to the discussion here! ;-)

I had decided to ignore Santa which is possible if you homeschool (like I did) but my sister’s kids pulled mine right in and they were repeating/believing the whole story before I knew what was happening! lol… since then I’ve told them about St Nick and how his faith in Jesus and obedient consideration for “the least of these” inspired the people around him so that when he died it didn’t stop the tradition. We’ve talked almost annually about myths and how they get to be so unrealistic. I allow the fun of the mysterious by telling them “you never know who is following his example now, or how…”

In our lives it is true that I am not the only "Santa's helper"! There have been a number of times others contributed in the same spirit.

Tessa, despite prayers God allows children to be kidnapped, molested, tortured, enslaved and even killed. Does God love those children less or is it a lie to tell them he'll protect them? I tell my daughter that we have a locked house, that the chances are slim and that God will help us if we find ourselves in a terrible situation. He promises to be with us, he does not necessarily promise to buffer us.

Helen Ann said...

I agree with Dan on the santa issue. Why so much effort and pain go into perpetuating a lie every year and then making up lie after lie to cover the original lie baffled me once I really took a look at the whole thing. However, if one of my students asks me about Santa, I won't be the one to flat out tell them no because I do think that family secrets should be dealt with by the family. So an answer I might give is that "I've never met him. But my parents always gave me presents at Christmas just like they say Santa does'. That way I am not lying - but I am also being respectful of other people's child-rearing decisions.

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