A few days ago, I prematurely published a post with the working title, “Killing Santa“. That title was misleading; I didn’t mean to imply I wanted to “kill Santa.” I was just trying to verbalize the desire I had as a child to spend more time with my mother. I’ve since renamed that post, “Presence, Not Presents.”
That incident was timely. Yesterday, I watched the video of a Pastor telling children –who were waiting in line to sit on Santa’s lap– that Santa wasn’t real.
This video is heartbreaking on sooooo many levels.
For starters, what was this man thinking?!?
Regardless of whether or not you believe in God, it is NOT your place to tell people how to parent their children. Especially those who aren’t asking for advice. Plain and simple.
To be honest, I can’t believe this situation didn’t escalate sooner! I’m impressed with the parents’ restraint, in particular the three men who approach the man towards the end of the video; I was actually waiting for one of them to punch him in the face.
I’m sure the older children in the crowd -the ones who already know the truth about Santa, but are just going along with the lie at the request of their parents for the benefit of their younger siblings- were thinking, “Fight! Fight! Fight!”
Although there was that one boy in the green sweatshirt… I think he was actually trying to pull his dad back, thinking “Please don’t punch him, daddy. It’s Christmas.”
But the younger children? Oh, the younger children! While they will eventually learn the truth about Santa, this is NOT the way they should learn the truth about Santa. Just think of all the different layers of understanding and, therefore, confusion they were dealing with. For example:
- The children who believe in Santa were probably thinking, “Santa’s not real? I thought Santa was real!” (Looking at the Santa on display, and then to their mom and dad… and then back to the Santa on display… thinking, “Does this mean I won’t get any presents?“.)
- The children who were on-the-fence about whether or not Santa was real or not were probably thinking, “I always thought there was something fishy about this whole Santa thing… we don’t even have a chimney. How DOES he fly around the world delivering presents to every child in ONE night?” (Not looking at the Santa on display, but to their mom and dad for answers, feeling perplexed and perhaps even frustrated and betrayed because they’re beginning to realize they’ve been lied to for years.)
- The kids who already kind-of knew the truth about Santa, but didn’t have the heart to tell their parents because they knew their parents needed “just one more year” were probably thinking, “Thank God! Now I don’t have to pretend anymore!“
- The kids who already knew –either because they figured it out on their own, someone else had already told them or their parents never told them the lie to begin with– were probably thinking, “Why is this guy all up in arms -at a mall- yelling ‘Santa’s not real!’? What the hell is this guy’s problem?!” (Which, ironically, is what one of the fathers actually said, I think.)
Then there’s this whole OTHER layer of understanding to consider. The layer having to do with Jesus.
The children familiar with Jesus’ story –that Christmas is a celebration of His birth– were probably thinking, “Oh yeah… Christmas IS about Jesus… because it’s Jesus’ birthday. Why DO I get presents from Santa (or whomever) on Jesus’ birthday?” (But then they probably thought, “I go to birthday parties all the time and get a goody bag, so it’s probably just kind of like that.“)
But the children who DON’T know about Jesus –the children who don’t know Christmastime is a time to celebrate the birth of God’s own Son… the children who’ve grown up loving the Coca-Cola cartoon character just like the rest of us– were probably the most confused of all, thinking “Who’s Jesus?”
Can you imagine that?
A child asking, “Who’s Jesus?”
I think that’s whom this man was trying to reach. The children, and possibly even the adults, who are so lost they don’t even know there is a Savior.
This so-called Pastor delivered the message in the most inappropriate way, however, turning people away from God instead of towards Him.
And that is what makes this story the most heartbreaking of all.
If you’ve struggled with telling children the truth about Santa, perhaps you’d enjoy one of these other Christmas-related posts:
- Three Tips for Putting Christ Back in Christmas
- Presence, Not Presents
- My First Panic Attack… Caught On Film
- We’re Giving Santa the Day Off This Year
- Magic is Manipulation
Beth Nowak is a believer, dreamer, wife and mother, former Kindergarten teacher, and founder of GivingFamilies.com where she helps parents and children (ages 4+) “make memories while making a difference.” She’s also a mental health activist, TEDx presenter and inspirational speaker promoting civic engagement as a holistic approach to healing. For more information on the many topics she presents on, please click here.