Thursday, March 4, 2010

Boy do I love throwing gas on the fire...

I'm hoping this post will end up being a short one, but who knows if that will happen. I tend to spiel for quite a bit longer than I intend to, especially when I'm busy bashing human stupidity. Which I intend to do once again today. I wanted to make a blog post, but didn't know what about until I was glancing at some comments on a friend's blog. The post they wrote was about considering whether to get rid of santa in their Christmas traditions.

Now I want to make absolutely clear that I don't at all intend to enter the violent fray of this argument itself. My official opinion is this: I don't think it hurts to believe in santa. BUT I also believe that this is one of those things that's an entirely personal decision. There are no church decrees on santa one way or the other. And there are pluses and minuses to both sides of this. So I don't really care what you teach your kids about him. At all. And please don't comment arguing about this, because I don't care.

What I DO want to talk about is why some of the reasons that people get rid of Santa in their traditions are stupid. Yes, this sounds like I'm arguing on the side of the the santa believers. But I'm not. Because I'm not going to touch the LOGICAL reasons against him. I'm just going to point out that sometimes people do things for the wrong reasons. And that statement applies to many, many things. Our topic today just happens to be Santa.

Reason # 1 against Santa: Kids who grow up believing in Santa have weaker testimonies of the gospel.
This is absolute rubbish. Here's why. First of all, most people who state this have a sample size or one or two families. They saw a family once where their kids believed in Santa, and at the same time ended up as delinquents or something. This is not only completely idiotic because of the one time occurrence, but also because there is no proven link between the child's Christmas traditions, and whatever led to them becoming who they are later in life. Second, Santa and the gospel have nothing whatsoever to do with each other, except for the fact that they're both Christmas related. There is nothing about any sort of Santa tradition that I've ever heard of that encourages you to do things opposite to what Jesus would teach you to do. Santa wants you to be good. Santa is happy and jolly. Santa gives freely to people regardless of race, color, language, socio-economic status, family, or career position. I don't see how these things can possibly lead to lower gospel assurance.
Also, if it so happens that there is a situation where both of these things happen (ie. belief in Santa, AND lower testimonies) there is a completely logical answer, and the only plausible solution that I can think of. It's actually a two part answer. Part one: The parents who taught santa did so in such a way that emphasized worldly gain way too much, and did not do their proper job of teaching the gospel. This is entirely avoidable, and is not Santa's fault but the parents'. If you want your kids to be strong in the gospel, do your job as a parent. Teach them what they need to know. Then if they do go astray, it's not your fault (or santa's either.)Part 2: The child in question made life decisions that led them away from the gospel. This happens to all people, in all situations. Good parents and bad parents alike. It's sad, but it has nothing at all to do with Santa.

Reason #2 against Santa: Santa is too much like Jesus, and can confuse your kids.

No joke, I've heard this one before. And I think I can answer this very simply. You have to try really hard to make Santa that much like Jesus. Jesus did a lot of stuff (ie. atonement, healing, preaching the gospel, etc) besides just going around giving people presents. Yeah you can make them similar if you really try, but honestly, you have to be doing it on purpose. And once again, this is something that's completely avoidable, and completely based on the way in which both subjects are portrayed by the parents' teaching.

Reason #3 against Santa: It doesn't teach anything useful. Bad kids still get presents too.

Yes this is a real thing I've heard, and again, it's a real no brainer to answer. Um, if your kids are that bad, then just don't give them presents. You do, in fact, have control over this. My mom and dad have actually taken presents away from us if we did something really bad. I've seen some of the stuff we didn't get. But honestly, as kids we were never THAT bad, so it didn't happen much. But my dad was not afraid to just not give us things we didn't deserve. And guess what... we didn't grow up nearly as spoiled and whiny as many other kids.

Reason #4 against Santa: Kids lose all trust in parents when they discover santa isn't actually real.

To be honest, I debated whether to add this one on my list, because I can somewhat see how it could be a real thing. But I decided to talk about it after all, for this reason: While there are some people who have this unfortunate truth sprung on them in a bad way, at a bad time, which can be a little devastating, most people who are the ones complaining about this problem are just full of a bunch of tripe. If you're 30, and you're still complaining about trust issues because of santa when you were little, you really need to just realize that you're an ADULT, and just get over it! Seriously. Most of the people who complain about this are either just afraid of it happening, or are too much of a wussy-pants to get over something that happened to them 25 years ago. In this case, it's not Santa's fault. It's the adult that has the emotional issues. Santa's just the tip of the iceberg. There's a whole slew of other stuff that contributes to that. And on the other issue, I really think kids are a lot smarter, tougher, and resilient than we give them credit for. They aren't stupid. If you treat the subject properly, you will probably not have any problems. Again, it partially depends on how you approach the subject as a parent. But like I said with people who are still bitter, often times Santa might be the most recognizable part of a problem, but if it turns out to really be that huge of an issue, there are more things behind it than just learning that santa is figurative. Just make sure you have secure attachments with your kids, and you'll be fine.

I'm not going to list any of the other "concerns" out like I did above, because lot of the rest of them are, in fact, legitimate concerns. They do have answers, but they don't require me to tell anyone either that they are an idiot, or that they need to just get over something. I do like to do that, but I try to only when someone really deserves it, or needs to hear it.

Some of the other concerns revolve around commercialism vs. the real meaning of Christmas. These are real questions that need to be addressed, whether you want to bring Santa into it or not. I really, really liked something a girl said as a comment to the blog I was reading.
"But, I just had an interesting thought. I don't know if "Santa" is necessarily the thing we should be eliminating, I think it is the excessive emphasis on presents that needs consideration. Now, I know that Santa is the one who brings presents, so naturally he gets equated with the commercialism and greed, but after all, Santa is not real. Who actually gets the presents? It is the parents. What if Santa only brought one present? What if he didn't bring anything at all and he was just another figure that we talk about at Christmas, like Frosty the Snowman (which is what I think people do when they decide not to have their kids believe in Santa)."

She is so right. The problems that we equate with believing in Santa are really just symptoms of a bigger problem. I mentioned this in the section about why someone's testimony could be weakened, and how it's not Santa's fault. It is not the personage of Santa that is the trouble. It is not even what he stands for. It's not about whether or not we believe in him. The root of it all is in how we treat and teach things. Do we emphasize the getting of presents, or do we focus on giving, and helping others, and remembering what Jesus did for us? It is completely possible to safely believe in Santa, AND remember the real meaning of Christmas. Here's a story another girl wrote as a comment. I think she read it somewhere. Not sure where though.

"I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma. I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: 'There is no Santa Claus,' she jeered. 'Even dummies know that!'
"My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her world-famous cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so. It had to be true.
"Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. 'No Santa Claus!'
she snorted. 'Ridiculous! Don't believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad. Now, put on your coat, and let's go.'
"'Go? Go where, Grandma?' I asked. I hadn't even finished my second world-famous, cinnamon bun.
"'Where' turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days. 'Take this money,' she said, 'and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car.' Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's.
"I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten- dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for...

"I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church. I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class. Bobby Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out for recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn't have a cough, and he didn't have a coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat!

"I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that. 'Is this a Christmas present for someone?' the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down.

"'Yes,' I replied shyly. 'It's ... for Bobby.'

"The nice lady smiled at me.

"I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag and wished me a Merry Christmas.
"That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat in Christmas paper and ribbons (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) and wrote, 'To Bobby, From Santa Claus' on it -- Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially one of Santa's helpers. Grandma parked down the street from Bobby's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. 'All right, Santa Claus,' she whispered, 'get going.'
"I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his doorbell and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.
"Fifty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker's bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were: ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.
"I still have the Bible, with the tag tucked inside: $19.95. He who has no Christmas in his heart will never find Christmas under a tree."

Like I said before, I do have a tendency to make these posts a whole heck of a lot longer than I ever intend them to be. Which pretty much just means that less people will read them. Oh well. But I'm just going to summarize everything that went down here.

1. I did not just try to tell everyone that they should teach their kids Santa. Like I said, I don't care what you teach your kids. That's your prerogative.

2. I did make this post to poke a little bit of fun at people with ideas too extreme for logic. I always think it's hilarious when people are so zealous about something that they start spouting things that make little or no sense.

3. When it comes to legitimate concerns, the answer doesn't have anything to do with Santa himself. It has everything to do with the worldly vs. Spiritual spin you put on the Christmas traditions you celebrate.

4. Really, Santa is a non-issue. There are way, way, way too many more important things to worry about as a parent than whether or not you teach Santa to your kids. Which is why I said I don't actually care which choice you made. At all. I just thought it was amusing to talk about some of the silly things that people come up with.

I think that pretty much summarizes it. Thanks for sticking around this long. I appreciate readers all the time. :)

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