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THE SANTA CLAUS CON OVER FOR NOW


by Ellen Makkai
December 29, 2007
NewsWithViews.com

Dear Ellen, We punish our children for lying, but at Christmas we lied to them again this year about Santa. Now what? Signed, Dad with a guilty conscience

Dear Dad,

What a question to come days after Christmas! Santa Claus placemats, greeting cards, candles, magnets, cookies, napkins and wrapping paper still litter the house. Rover spent the last 72 hours trying to chew off the mini-Santa suit a zealous celebrant couldn’t leave behind at the pet store.

This Christmas conundrum plays out annually across the globe as perplexed moms and dads ponder just how to handle Santa. What to do with Santa, the primo, culturally anointed Christmas icon?

At Christmas, ordinarily non-fibbing parents find themselves shoved into the planetary conspiracy to hoodwink their children. “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” And ultimately comes the piercing truth, “Nope, we lied; no Santa, no reindeer, no sleigh, no elves. Sorry.”

The confession is rephrased, of course, enabling folks to discount their multiplied perjuries when faced with a disillusioned tot. Platitudes abound in futile attempts to painlessly dismantle the Santa canard. “Spirit of Christmas, make-believe, imagination, fantasy, fairy-tale” compete in our embroidered excuses.

Sadly, the good news Annunciation is often lost to children amidst the hoopla of this annual Christmas con-game. An old believer once stunned me with “S-A-N-T-A was created by S-A-T-A-N.”

Oh dear. Did the father of lies concoct this mythological benefactor in the ongoing campaign to usurp God as the gift-giver?

Just in case, St. Nick never made it beyond a fairy tale in our house. And the truth deprived our children of nothing. The Encyclopedia Britannica notes that St. Nicholas was a 4th century bishop known for his kindness to children and the poor. Legends say that he often gave gifts anonymously - a cherished example of generosity. A Santa potholder and a red fleece cap, in homage to the honorable saint, was enough for us.

Families that haven’t yet capitulated to the Santa hoax can rightly define Christmas for their children early on, as we did. An imaginary package-toting gnome jumping down chimneys pales in comparison to the historical Christmas which needs no embellishment to inspire delight.

A long-prophesied promise is fulfilled. Miraculous dreams, angelic visitors and choirs-in-the-sky announce the divine visitation. An astronomical phenomenon draws aristocratic Persian Magi across the desert to the throne room of an evil potentate, and then onto the humble abode of an infant king. Why deception when the truth is vastly more colorful and engaging?

Dad, you write that you succumbed to Santa as described in Clement Clarke Moore’s “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” and your kids bought in. When that dreaded question surfaces (“Is Santa real?”), honesty will be the best gift you give next Christmas - if your youngsters haven’t figured it out by then.

But, be prepared; sensitivity-training should accompany your confession. Newly Santa-savvy children are known for blunt recklessness in blurting out, “There is no Santa!” when conversing with their duped contemporaries. No one likes a spoilsport. Remind your kids that it’s not their place to dethrone Santa in the eyes of unenlightened devotees.

Ultimately, however, truth is its own reward. You can skip long lines for the shopping-center Santa beg-a-thon. You won’t awake on Christmas morn to sour milk and the stale cookies left to enhance deceit. An illumined crčche in your yard will silently herald to passers-by that your home has the Spirit within.

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When the lie ends, Saint Nicholas returns to history and Christmas suffers no less glee. But better than best; thanks to a reclaimed integrity, your children are likely to doubt you less and trust you more when you sing, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come…”

© 2007 - Ellen Makkai - All Rights Reserved

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From 1985 to 2002, Ellen Brewster (Makkai) wrote for several major metropolitan editorial pages, a well-known website, Creator's Syndicate and a national Christian publication. Her columns provided a counterpoint to the vast majority of secular writers who frequently discount or insult the faith community. The small feature, "Bible Byte," offset daily horoscopes in one local newspaper.

Website: EllenBrewster.com

Contact Ellen: Write to Ellen


 

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When the lie ends, Saint Nicholas returns to history and Christmas suffers no less glee.