I love Christmas music. The great hymns and classical pieces fill my soul and some of the other lighter pieces add a nice touch of frivolity to the season. But I have one major gripe.
A few days ago, I was idly listening to some Christmas music on TV while halfway engaged in another task. Suddenly the words to a song penetrated my distracted brain. The words were, “He’ll be here with the answer to prayers that you made through the year. They’ll be yours if you’ve done everything you should extra special good.”
Startled I glanced up in time to get the name of the song (“Everyone’s Waitin’ for the Man with the Bag”) and looked up the words to make sure I heard them accurately.
The “he” referred to in this song is Santa Claus. Santa, the one who answers our prayers.
Now, this is a particularly bad holiday song for a lot of reasons. I’d never even heard it before. Doubt if most of us have. Don’t buy it.
Nonetheless, it does express a disturbing sentiment: Santa knows everything, has magical powers, can make you happy and your dreams come true. In other words, Santa is pretty close to God or at least what we’d like God to be.
I am not a complete curmudgeon. I think it is a fun to do Santa make-believe, to tell the story of that great and generous saint who inspired the story, and to read with delight the classic “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”
I simply don’t want to see Santa confused with Jesus, particularly in the minds of small children. The whole “You better be good, you better watch out” thing has become a religion of its own. I’ve actually seen parents get more upset when their children quit believing in Santa Claus than they do when these same children declare disbelief in God.
By the way, I am not complaining about the commercialization of Christmas. I have many friends whose livelihood comes from the retail world. Holiday shopping makes or breaks their businesses. We live in an economy supported primarily by consumer spending rather than, for example, manufacturing or agriculture. We need to spend to stay afloat.
Santa Claus is a fun fable. The Holy Creator God is a whole other story.
Let us ask, “How do I want the children we influence to be shaped spiritually? What happens when we teach something we know is just a story to be actually true?”
Let’s both be wise AND have fun. Happy Holidays!