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The Pros and Cons of Santa Clause

The most wonderful time of the year is here. 

Unfortunately, living in North Carolina currently means that I’m struggling to get in the Christmas spirit, seeing as it is sunny and 75 eight days from Christmas. Nonetheless, as the calendar flips faster and faster toward the holiday that an astronomical amount of Americans seem to celebrate regardless of color, creed or faith tradition, I’ve had a lot of time to ponder about things. 

About one thing in particular actually. Santa Clause. Oh jolly St. Nick, the affable fat man in a red suit that is as much apart of Christmas as feeling insecure in a bathing suit is apart of the beach. Long white beard, red cheeks and a twinkle in his eye. Throughout the years, through all the different fashion trends, Santa is a bastion of tradition, always wearing his red and white suit to go shimmying down chimneys everywhere. 

At this juncture I find it important to make known that I have no children. Which is why, this is all one big imaginary game for me, whereas to some of you it is a very important decision to make about your child’s upbringing. That being said, I will now provide you with the pros and cons of telling your children about Santa. 

Pro: Everybody loves to look back and see pictures of themselves screaming bloody murder on the lap of a bearded stranger. 

Con: All those Christmas gifts you’ve worked hard to provide for your children will not be credited to you, but rather an imaginary creature who lives with elves in the North Pole. 

Pro: All of their classmates believe in Santa, and do you really want your kid to be that kid?

Con: You’ve just watched “The Santa Clause 3” for the 7th time and a homicidal rage is slowly kindling within your belly. 

Pro: Somebody has to eat those milk and cookies, AmIRite?

Con: Still trying to figure out how to explain where Santa was when Jesus was born.

Pro: You don’t feel guilty about not wrapping your kid’s gifts, because at ten o’clock you just get to toss them from your closet under the tree.

Here is the real reason for writing this though: when talking to children about Santa Clause, we need to be careful of the comparisons and qualities we endow him with. When I got to college I remember chatting with one of my roommates about Santa Clause, and I’ll always remember his response: “Santa Clause really caused me a lot of strife when I started thinking about faith in God.”

When we tell children that there is a man who  lives in the North Pole who cares about them and gives them gifts, and then tell them about a God who loves them and gave them His only Son, we create something of a grouping for beings that they don’t understand but who love them. Then, when we tell them, or they find out from friends, or they realize elves probably don’t exist, it can cause doubt of the entire category. If Santa isn’t real, then is God real? Likewise, in my experience there was a lot of line blurring between where Santa ended and God began. The whole naughty/nice dichotomy really influenced a works-based righteousness understanding of God until late high school. If you are a good boy, then God loves you and provides for you. If you’re a bad boy, then God will give you (figurative) coal. 

Ultimately, it is up to you to decide if your children will believe in Santa Clause. There isn’t really a wrong or right answer. But as we go into this holiday season, stringing up the lights and tanning in the absurdly warm conditions, take some time to consider how children’s ears hear about Santa Clause, and as adults what we can do to make the line clear between fiction and reality. And also what we can do to still eat milk and cookies on Christmas Eve.

James Harris

James is probably the 3rd or 4th funniest guy you know. Funny enough to invite to a party; not witty enough to talk about later. Co-Founder and Content Editor of Everyday Exiles, Director of College Ministry at Reynolda Church, EPC, and husband to Meredith. He has a dog named Calvin, a cat named Opie, and a robot vacuum named Alfred.

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