Halfway through my little mini-series here and I’m hoping that I’m not pushing all of my friends away. I don’t want to come across as though I think everyone else should do things the way I do them. As I said in the beginning, my only goal here is writing down why I choose what I choose. As I mentioned, though most of the response I get when I tell people that we “Fired Santa” is positive, there are some people who look at me like I just grew a second head. The thought that my kids won’t get to have Santa baffles them. And they give many reasons why we *should* do Santa. None of these reasons resonate with me, however, and they pale in comparison (to me) to the reasons we’ve chosen *not* to do Santa. You can read my response to the first argument of “But it’s FUN!” and the second argument “Because Santa is based on Saint Nicholas.” Now I’m going to address the third argument I hear…
Reason #3: “It’s tradition! It’s the way *I* grew up doing it and I turned out just fine.”
Yes. I’m sure that you *did* turn out just fine. I grew up doing it and I like to think that *I* did. ; ) But wouldn’t you agree that just because our parents did something, we don’t necessarily have to do it that way? I mean, think about all the things you grew up saying you were going to do differently. Maybe you still did some of them the same. But I’m willing to bet there are some ways that you parent differently.. and you know what? That’s okay. It really is. We don’t *have* to do things the way our parents and their parents did them. Sometimes change is good (sometimes it’s bad) we just have to weigh out each scenario.
But here’s the other thing, the more important thing: Santa Clause is really a very recent tradition when you think about it. Yes, Saint Nicholas lived a very LONG time ago. And honoring Saint Nicholas has been around a very LONG time. But Santa Claus as we know him today began taking shape around the beginning of the 1800’s and by 1930 he was the Santa we all recognize and celebrate. He’s barely been around a hundred years. And in the grand scheme of things, that’s really not very long.
Often when we say “it’s always been done that way” what we really mean is that it’s been done that way “as long as I can remember” or “for several generations.” But it’s not “always.” We tend to over generalize things. Don’t you agree? Seeing as how Santa is really a very recent tradition, and seeing as how Saint Nicholas is a much older one, it seems to me that it should be a very simple matter of letting people take it or leave it and choose Saint Nicholas over Santa if they want to, without much argument.
Speaking of Christmas traditions that have changed… there have been many traditions in Christmas’ past, many of which we no longer do today. We no longer put real candles on trees, or decorate trees with food, or celebrate Christmas with a city-wide drunken carnival (as it was celebrated during the Middle Ages.) Times change. Traditions change.
Now we’ve got some new additions to Christmas lore. Much of what we “know” about Christmas is a direct result of one thing: television. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer first appeared in 1939, he was created for a Montgomery Ward’s advertisement (yes, advertisement – surprised?) His fame was cemented by the classic movie that came out in the 60’s. Frosty the Snowman became famous first with the song (in the 50’s) and then with his own movie in the 60’s. Since then there have been many more Christmas songs and movies which have added to the story, the lore, the tradition. Traditions continue to change.
My point here is that it’s okay to change traditions, it’s okay to pick and choose. We do with everything else. And as Christians we SHOULD be in this world but not of it, we SHOULD look a little weird, we SHOULD be choosing our traditions carefully.. if people look at us like we’re weird because we’re not doing the same things, isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be? Now I’m not knocking those Christians who still do Santa.. I’m just standing up to defend the ones who don’t and get labeled as “weird.” Don’t fret. Standing out and looking weird is okay. Okay?
I just wanted to wrap up that even though we don’t “do” Santa here, we still watch movies. We have many favorites. Because for us, we’re not making Santa real… but he’s perfectly welcome as a tv character the same as Rudolph, Frosty, etc. Fiction, for me, needs to stay fiction, and then we’re fine. You might be surprised to learn that one of my favorite Christmas movies is actually Polar Express. It’s such a good movie. But my favorite line of all, you probably won’t be surprised to learn, is at the end where Santa says, “This bell is a wonderful symbol of the spirit ofChristmas – as am I.”
Yes, Santa is a SYMBOL of Christmas (albeit the secular, American Christmas.) And as long as Santa stays a symbol for me then Santa and I are good. But just because the tradition of making Santa Claus real to kids has been around for the past hundred years, it doesn’t mean that’s necessarily how it has to be done. I’d like to choose traditions that are older, better for us, and make some new ones of our own. I know some people think I’m a follower of some kind for choosing not to do it. I must be following SOMETHING or SOMEBODY. Truth is, I’m not. I’m bucking tradition and that’s what makes waves and I get that. But “to each his own” as the saying goes, because truth is.. we all pick and choose tradition to some extent anyway.
Tomorrow I’ll finish off this little mini series and then I’ll be taking a break for the holidays. I hope your holidays are shaping up well. If you have some extra time, here’s some extra reading for you. God bless!
- Of Kids and Christmas (LOVE THIS.)
- Permission to Breathe (Just thought this might be appropriate 3 days before Christmas.) = )