Ten Reasons Why I HATE Santa and You Should Too
About the author: Lindsey has a BA in Sociology from Cedarville University and a MA in Education (math) from the University of Colorado. After having taught 5th grade for four years, she currently stays at home and spends her days wrangling three toddlers while anxiously waiting for the sound of the garage door.
Growing up, we didn’t do Santa. My sisters and I didn’t write lists, my parents never took us to visit Santa, nobody ever left cookies by the chimney, and if we were told to be good, it certainly wasn’t because some old guy in the North Pole was watching. Christmas was still a wonderful time. We decorated the house, caroled, ate Christmas goodies, exchanged gifts, and gathered with family for Christmas dinner – we just did it all without Santa.
My husband was also raised in a Santa-free home. When it came time for us to establish our own Christmas traditions, having no attachment to the bearded jolly fellow, we also chose to celebrate without him. Besides, adding Santa to the mix seemed like a burden – just one more thing during an already a busy time. So, initially, we omitted Santa out of convenience rather than conviction.
Over the years, however, I’ve noticed the enormous role Santa plays during the holiday season: Christmas movies featuring an almost reverent focus on Santa Claus, parents adamantly instructing that we not spill the beans about the big guy to their kids, along with the flyer for the neighborhood Christmas party announcing: SANTA WILL ARRIVE AT 7:00!!! Somehow, this “neutral figure” has become the main attraction.
During a celebration that is intended to magnify Jesus, the idea of someone else taking center stage has significant implications. Reflecting on this, I no longer view Santa as neutral – in fact, my feelings toward him now border on hate. Over- the-top? Perhaps, but before you write me off, I invite you to examine my reasoning and decide for yourself.
1. He’s a distraction
Not that long ago I viewed Santa as just a fun, harmless tradition. If, supposing for a moment that this is true, it’s important to recognize that at the very least, incorporating Santa into our holidays diverts attention (not to mention time, money, and energy) away from Christ.
2. He makes liars of parents
As soon as parents decide to do the whole Santa thing, they’ve committed to lying to their children – for YEARS! Although done in the name of holiday fun, this teaches children that lying is okay (as long as it’s fun, of course) and that their parents can’t always be counted on to tell the truth. This tears at God’s intended design for the parent child relationship, and because this familial bond serves as a picture for how God relates to us, it also mars our understanding of how God relates to us as his children.
3. He promotes a false, works righteousness, theology
One thing everyone knows about Santa is that he’s always watching. In order to get what you want, Santa has to see you being good. This is anti-gospel! Even if we make a point of clearly explaining the good news to our children, the yearly exercise of behaving in order to receive gifts strengthens our natural bent toward works righteousness. It contradicts the grace-alone through faith-alone message we are striving to instill in our children.
4. He encourages self-centeredness
The other thing everyone knows about Santa is that he’s always asking, “What do you want for Christmas?” We go along with this by helping our kids sift through catalogues, encouraging them to make lists, and taking them on special outings so they can tell Santa what they want. During the holidays we unashamedly encourage our kids to dwell on things rather than Christ. This cultivates an egocentric understanding of Christmas and twists the holiday so it is now all about them and what they want, rather than Christ and what he did.
5. He tells our kids that they are good
And, of course, our kids ALWAYS get what they want for Christmas, thus instilling in them the understanding that they are (or at least were in December) good. Should we stuff their stocking with coal? No, of course not. But it seems a shame that on the very holiday we celebrate God’s plan to redeem us from sin, we tell our kids they’re not really sinful.
6. He’s God-like but not God
Santa possesses many God-like qualities, for example: he knows intimate details about people, he keeps records of moral behavior, and he’s been around for a long time. In so many ways Santa is like God, but in actuality, he is lacking. He knows when we’re sleeping but is not omniscient. He keeps a record of if we’re good or bad, but is not just. He’s old, but is not eternal. Not to mention he’s (spoiler alert!) pretend, and God is very real. In short, Santa is a God imitator, he is an idol. Why would we turn our children’s attention to something less than when Christ is so much better?
7. He steals prayer and worship from God
When our kids ask Santa for presents and think their Christmas gifts come from him, he immediately becomes more than just a character in a story, but a person with whom they interact. Petitions and thanks should be directed toward God. When we instead point them to Santa, we’re stripping our children of an opportunity to interact with and praise God.
8. He reveals that we don’t think Christ is enough
When we add Santa to Christmas, it reveals that we don’t think God, the creator of all things, humbling himself, becoming flesh, living a perfect life among us, dying for our sins, defeating death, and reconciling us with himself, is enough. We add Santa to make Christmas more fun, and more whimsical. In reality, the incarnation is not lacking, it does not need more.
9. He promotes the idea of mindless faith
All Santa stories include an element of faith. Scripturally speaking, saving faith, involves two aspects. As R W Glenn put it, we have to believe that, and believe in. The former refers to the affirmation of facts. For example, biblical faith requires one to believe that facts like, Jesus was born of a virgin, in Bethlehem, around 2,000 years ago, are true. In the case of Santa, his “facts” are so absurd that one must attach mental blinders in order to believe them. Although the fear of producing Santa-believing grown-ups is not a credible concern, turning out adults with wrong ideas about faith, is. Encouraging our kids to believe falsehoods plants the idea that faith involves checking your brain at the door and feeds the notion that faith can’t be supported by facts and good reasoning. Yes, the Bible states that our faith is in things not seen, but that does not mean it is in things that are not real.
10. He teaches us that strength of faith trumps object of faith
If we consider the, believe that + believe in = true faith, equation, the fact that Santa is not real, poses some problems. Now, the second aspect of faith, the believe in part, is akin to placing your trust in. For example, I may believe that a bridge exists across a cavern, but unless I step onto it, I have yet to place my trust in it and true faith is not complete. When we direct our kids to trust in a mythical man, we are essentially asking them to step onto a bridge that is not there. Doing so upholds the idea that it doesn’t really matter what you believe in, as long as your faith is strong and sincere.
So, there you have it – my ten reasons for hating Santa. As I see it, Santa influences the hearts and minds of our children in ways that are contrary to the gospel, and reveals gaps in our own understanding of and reverence toward the incarnation.
Now, considering that the holiday season is almost at a close, I understand this may not be coming at the best time. However, I do hope that for next year, this article serves as a catalyst for reflection and inspires you to rethink Santa’s place in your Christmas.