The Santa Debate and Honesty
Inherent in Mommyhood are soooo many debates. C’mon, you’ve heard them. You may have even participated in them from time to time. You just couldn’t help yourself out there on the soccer field or even in your own home. A touchy subject comes up and your Mama Bear instincts and your defense mechanisms kick in.
Let’s see…there’s the stay-at-home vs. working mom thing, the breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding thing, the homeschool-all-the-way-to-college vs. ‘giving up’-and-putting-your-kids-in-school thing. And yup, at this time of year, the to-Santa vs. not-to-Santa thing. Oh, it’s out there and it’s not the elephnat in the room. It’s addressed heatedly, even more by those who feel that kids will be damaged irreparably if <gasp> they are “lied to” about Santa. Within the realm of our Catholic Christian community—in our churches, on blogs, on facebook, and at our kitchen tables—the debate is fresh, real, and has turned heated.
How did this develop? I believe that just as suddenly-well-meaning friends and acquaintances exhibit concern over homeschooled children ‘missing’ a grand social experience, as in some variation on the well worn and ever predictable: “So, you homeschool? Ah. Do your kids have any friends?” that non-Santa-ers among us feel compelled to address our outright Santa-ing. As if to fill us in on a great truth.
Um, thanks, but no thanks. I may need lotsa help in the Mommy Department in general. But on this, no.
The fact is, the non-jolly-old-elf-believers say, as long as the Incarnation of our Lord is paramount within our family’s catechesis, Santa Claus is permissible.
Well, thank you for the green light, non-believers. But I kinda think that’s preaching to the choir. Pun intended.
As a mom who absolutely, unequivocally, and whole-heartedly does the ‘Santa thing,’ AND was raised a believer AND married a believer, I can tell you that I am one of those who do the (considered by non Santa-ers) wretched-yet-required annual Santa events: waiting on line at a sometimes-cheesy-but-always-mood-setting temporary ‘North Pole Workshop’ for the picture; setting out milk and homemade cookies for the head elf and carrots for his reindeer on Christmas Eve; annual reveling in Clement C. Moore’s classic; leaving much thought-out thank you notes under the tree for gifts that graced our den last Christmas morn…well, yes, I am here to affirm that we actually and truly do place the birth of our Savior at the forefront of our celebrations, thank you very much.
Rest assured, non-believers: I can affirm with certainty, the following truths, as can any parent of believing children:
My children’s psyches will not be damaged because they are ‘deceived,’ resulting in hefty trust issues upon their adulthood.
My children’s cognitive development is not arrested because they have ‘fallen for’ the scientific inaccuracies that entail one rather heavy old man in an enormous gift-packed sled being pulled by eight gravity-defying reindeer to children the world over.
My children will not suffer a traumatic blow when met with news that Santa is not ‘real.’
My children will not have a distorted sense of the True Meaning of Christmas.
I don’t. Nor does my husband. Nor do any of the millions of Santa believers the world over. I know this with certainty.
Because year after year after year our belief in Santa continues to add depth and richness to our celebration of the birth of our Lord.
Because we recognize that Santa Claus is continuing the tradition made great in the fourth century by the much loved Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, who gave humbly and generously to those in need. And to all.
Because we have come to embrace as part of our Catholic legacy that he was hell on heretics and took no grief from non believers in the One True Lord.
Because belief in Santa does not make Christmas commercial or secular or lessen the beauty and the awe that we feel when we truly ponder the mysteries of the Incarnation, the Immaculate Conception, and the Salvation into Eternal Life that we are offered as a result of the birth of this defenseless Babe in a dirty stable over two thousand years ago.
Parents of Santa believers and non-believers alike have instilled in their children a deep admiration for St Nicholas. He is a role model. He is a hero. He was The Enforcer and the Walker Texas Ranger of his time. All in the name of defense of his Faith. Our children may look to him as a moral barometer and a model of love for our Holy Mother Church as they grow to adulthood in our current culture of spiritual depravity.
What of the Santa-compared-to St. Nicholas debacle? Santa, too, gives without compensation. Only that the children to whom he gives, believe.
If belief in Santa offers our children another avenue to the understanding the Lord’s depth of mercy, of His giving, and of His second chances whenever we really need them, than who are we to doubt?
Who are we to question others’ traditions?
When our houses are places of prayer, when we try to speak grace-filled words amongst each other, when our to-do list is comprised of all things unseen, isn’t that what the Lord asks?
Isn’t that what we all attempt despite our differing traditions?
The Lord’s ways are not our ways and, we all know, are not always explainable. The goodness and kindness that the Lord wants us to seek and emulate might just be found for any of us, at any age, in the form of a red-suited, white-bearded, jolly, old elf who resides at the top of the world.
I believe in him. And I believe in Him.
And really, why question that?
Copyright 2013 Christine Capolino