Friday, December 24, 2010

The Case for Santa Claus

There are a lot of people out there who say that Santa Claus has no place in Christmas. They don't believe in Santa and he doesn't come to their house. These are the same people for whom Christmas is about Jesus' birth - and only about Jesus' birth. They say that Santa takes away from Christmas' Christian purpose by distracting from its religious meaning.

Of course Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus. No one disputes that. But why must these Santa-haters be so literal? After all, it's been fairly well documented that Jesus was probably born in the fall, not in December. But Anti-Santites still celebrate Christmas in December. There's also the Christmas tree, the origins of which are muddy and uncertain, but which has become a symbol of Christmas. Most Ant-Santites I've ever met still have a Christmas tree nonetheless.

Regardless of the literal meanings of Christmas and its customary trappings, Santa remains its most visible mascot, and I say that it's a good thing. I think that Santa is a primer for the very reason for Christmas and is a great allegory for God Himself. At a very early age, we learn to believe - with all of our heart and being - about Santa Claus. We can't see Santa, but we're certain he exists. The very act of believing in him bring good things in the form of wonder and presents. It's not until later in life when our jaded and skeptical mind takes over that we even consider that there might not be such a thing as Santa. But there are those of us who still believe in him, regardless, or at least (and this is where the metaphor diverts from God) what he stands for. But the fact is that Santa, to most kids, is a vital instrument in learning to believe in the unseen - to take on faith something that they can't see or touch or even verify. And isn't that same belief - the belief in the heart and not in the head - the same belief that tells us that that there is, in fact, a God and that Jesus is real?

And for that, I say that Santa is perhaps the most important part of Christmas. Anti-Santites would do well to realize that we're not worshiping Santa. He's not an idol. He's a symbol. Strip away the presents and the stockings and all the trappings of modern Santa mythology and you'll find love, selflessness and faith - things that Christianity is also about. Santa actually teaches us how to better Christians, if we can just look past the obvious commercialism.

So thanks, Santa, for teaching us to believe. I still believe in you with all my heart.

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