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Friday, December 18, 2009

Thinking About Santa :: Desiring God

Thinking About Santa :: Desiring God

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  1. well, we don't have kids yet as you know. i am okay with people who do incorporate santa. i affirm families incorporating traditions and i think it is good to encourage children's imagination and fairy tales; however, piper makes some really good points. i think he persuaded me, especially drawing theological comparisons between God and Santa. the hard part, however, is that he paints an ideal picture from the adult perspective. i learned the "truth" when i was in the second grade, but i was and continue to be immersed into the "culture of santa." in a way, they are competing narratives.

    what are your thoughts?

  2. i just quickly looked at the site again. it is interesting (and refeshing to note) that the article is not written by John Piper. it comes from Noel Piper, taken from her book on traditions. i think kelli got it as a wedding present but we haven't spent much time looking through it.

  3. PD,
    I've thought a lot about this. Going back and forth between if it's okay or not. Here are my thoughts (I'm going to be as succinct as possible, since I have a lot of thoughts and this is a blog). The main arguments against:
    1) You're deceiving your kids. This one was the biggest hang up for me until I realized that I don't know anyone who is truly consistent with this. If "doing" Santa is deception then so too is any make believe character. Do people go to Disney and when Mickey shows up whisper in their kid's ear, "Now this is just make believe and not really Mickey"? I don't know anyone who does and I think most kids at young ages think Cinderella, Snow White, Bob the Builder, etc. are real.
    2) Santa takes away from the true meaning of Christmas - "doing" Santa could and so could gifts, trees, parades, family, etc. But I've never heard anyone saying, "Don't visit your family because it could take away from Christmas." Abussum usum non tollit (the abuse does not negate the proper use).
    Reasons For Santa: It encourages our children to imagine a world where things can exist that are nor based on rationalism, enlightenment principles, and have to be understood by sight, smell, touch, etc.
    Santa can actually encourage a right understanding of Christmas - if you choose to do it. Children who are very young don't understand non-concrete ideas, "doing" Santa can help to make the meaning of Christmas more concrete.
    One doesn't have to incorporate the "God-like" attributes assoc. with Santa if you don't want to. We don't tell Laine that Santa is watching her, or that she will only receive gifts if she is good (that would actually be evil and contrary to the gospel). We may not even give her gifts from Santa - but we want to encourage her to imagine, dream, and wonder at things that are not part of the normal course of the world.
    Finally, I think by not encouraging imagination in our child (thus, not playing make believer, etc) we are in danger (not necessarily) of creating children who only see the world in ways that can be tested and examined. Yet, much of the world and our experience in it is not to be "proved" but enjoyed and believed whether it can be seen or not. (I recognize this can be done without Santa)
    Two good resources: On Fairy-Stories by Tolkien and The Ethics of Elfland by Chesteron (A chapter from Orthodoxy).
    Sorry for the length - I have other thoughts (more detailed) but I've written enough for a blog - let's keep talking.

  4. I am not against santa, but i am going to playing devil's advocate: why even talk about santa at all? our american traditions are a mixed bag of european traditions of celebrating St. Nicholas (perhaps even perpetuated by good ol' marketing campaigns aimed directly at manipulating kids to guilt their parents into buying stuff!). how about that for conspiracy theories!

  5. You don't actually have to talk about Santa directly, but sooner or later your kid is going to ask who that big guy is in the red suit and then you'll have to tell them something. So whether it's a cultural condition or not (which it is and has been for a long time) you're going to have to deal with him sooner or later.

  6. very true. you should respond, "what guy in the red suit? i don't see anyone." and just pretend your kid is seeing things.