santa claus = god for kids


Now that the holidays are over and my haul of coal-free gifts is safely ensconced in my bedroom, I think it's time to bring up the dark secret behind Christmas that no one likes to talk about. Simply put, Santa Claus is God-For-Kids. All this rooftop-and-reindeer business is naught but subterfuge. Jolly old St. Nick is to God Almighty as a plastic Big Wheel is to a regular bicycle: a training aid that lets children adjust to an intimidating and occasionally scary adult concept.

Let's look at the parallels:

God lets you ask for your dog to come out of surgery safely, by kneeling down and praying. Santa lets you request a new X Box by sitting on his lap.

God has many songs written in His praise, called hymns. Santa has plenty of songs of praise, but they're called carols instead.

God has priests to do His will. Santa has elves to make His toys.

God, by way of the church, demands tithing. Santa Claus demands you leave out cookies and milk, or, at the Keane house, beer and pretzels, on Christmas Eve.

God punishes for bad behavior with the threat of Hell, an eternity of fire and brimstone. Santa threatens coal, not sulfur, but otherwise the comparison is apt. After all, wouldn't most five year-olds choose an infinitude of torment over a toyless Christmas?

God had a secretary named Kennedy. Santa Claus had a secretary named Lincoln.

Eventually, kids learn that Santa Claus isn't real. It's a traumatic, world-shaking event to find out that what you previously considered to be the embodiment of all that is good about the world is merely an illusion. No one is there to see when you're sleeping, know when you're awake, or know when you've been bad or good. Luckily, there's God, Lord of heaven and Earth, creator of all that is seen and unseen, to fill the void. Whatever doubts a kid might have about the creation of the world in seven days, or Jesus turning water into wine, neither is as unlikely as one man delivering loads of free toys to children all around the world in one night.

And, like the Santa Claus myth, the God story is passed down from generation to generation. Sure, there's a few exceptions. There's the son who marries a Jewish woman, and stops getting a Christmas tree. There's the daughter who reads Nietzsche in a junior college humantities class, and decides that God is dead. But for the most part, belief in the Big Guy and the Big Fat Guy go hand-in-hand. Now, if there were only some kind of self-sacrifice, or dying for the sins of the North Pole community in the Rudolph story, then those clever Christians might really be onto something.


Can you think of a diametric opposite to Santa, someone who steals toys and tries to ruin Christmas? I suppose, if he hadn't redeemed himself in the end, the Grinch would serve as a good microcosm for Satan. But doesn't the Grinch's redemption in the end just suggest to kids that, deep down, Satan's got a heart of gold?
I think the mixed message of morality is further complicated when you look at how much Santa has in common with Satan in addition to the Lord. Both Satan and Santa sport beards. They both wear red. They have a laugh that's comical and terrifying in equal quantities. One's covered with soot from a dirty chimney, the other's covered with soot coming from the burning flesh of the eternally damned. But the primary thread that Santa and Satan have in common is the massive amount of weed they'll consume in any given day. At least kids are learning something positive from all the Christian Christmas Chaos.

i....i totally thought you were leading up to the santa spelled differently is satan thing. but didn't. which, i mean, good on you. and bad on me for bringing it up when you probably did it on purpose. but i was so shocked/thrilled by it's non-inclusion that i had to offer props. but i retract said props immediatly if you didn't even notice that switcheroo-potential.

You believe in god because someone told you it's true, even though evidence might suggest otherwise. Same for Santa Claus, except somebody let's you in on the lie at some point. There's very little difference be tween "faith" in god & belief in Santa Claus. It's dualism. An authority says it's true, therefore it is.

My son is 7 and is starting to get around to the "is Santa real" question. I had already thought about Santa being the childs version of God. This will be the perfect opportunity to really drive home beliefs and faith. I will tell him that he can choose to believe Santa is real, just like people choose to believe God is real. I think he'll figure out real quick to stop blindly believing it what authority tells him ;)

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This page contains a single entry by Sean Keane published on January 14, 2003 5:09 PM.

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