Friday, December 23, 2005

What to do with Santa

Today I ran across this article on cnn.com about the TV show Everybody Hates Chris, the show about Chris Rock's childhood. Apparently, some folks are upset because on a recent episode, the Mom reveals to her daughter that Santa Claus is not real. "Come here," the mom says, "let me show you something. I'm taking you to the toys ... Santa doesn't come down the chimney. We don't even have a chimney. We have radiators."

The complaints - well - if you know anything about Chris Rock's style, then I'm not sure why you would let your child watch his show. But aside from that, I've been thinking -

What do you do with Santa as people of faith? My three brothers and I were raised on Santa, though I found out the truth from an older cousin when I was five. But my mom has said in recent years that if she had to do it again, she wouldn't teach us to 'believe in' Santa Claus. Her reasoning? Parents spend so much time trying to get their kids to believe in Santa - a more and more elaborate string of "white lies" has to be told to keep a child believing. But, eventually, the truth comes out. If we go through all this elaborate stuff, all of which, in today's incarnation, has little to with the birth of Christ, only to reveal later that it is all made up, what are young people to think of all that they hear about God, perhaps harder to learn about to begin with?

I guess some of Santa Claus can represent the "spirit of Christmas" - sharing gifts with loved ones? But I think that isn't how Santa is usually taught to kids. Santa is the one who brings toys to good boys and girls. (More and better toys to richer girls and boys.)

I don't have children yet, so right now it is easy for me to say that I won't teach my kids to "believe in" Santa Claus. I'm sure their classmates' parents will be thrilled with me. What about you out there? Thoughts? Does Santa come to your house?
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