No, not the song, the Santa and THE Baby. Yup, Jesus. Recently in Sunday School (Children's Chapel to us) I had to clarify that Santa was not born on December 25th. On the spot, I told the kids that Jesus was born on December 25th and Santa only exists because Jesus exists.
Which, is true. No Jesus, No Santa (reads like a bumper sticker!). And, as I stumble further into the Christian mama blog world (which is a peculiar one to say the least) I come across more and more folk who are vehemently anti-Santa. This has caused me to reflect greatly on what/how/why we will teach our son about Christmas. And, I have decided (we, really) to go ahead and embrace Santa as a family, as a family with a priest mama that faithfully attends church and holds Christ at the center of it all. Santa and THE baby are not incompatible in our household--let me explain why.
Regardless of how one feels about the guy in the big red suit, he has become central to most American's understanding of "what" Christmas is. Santa is an ubiquitous figure this time of year and somewhat impossible to avoid. And, despite the close ties to rampant commercialism and unquestioning capitalism, Santa has much to offer our children. And, what he offers is far greater than gifts (and really, Santa is only as excessive in his gifting as parents make him...).
The reality in our household is that Santa lends himself well to lessons in social justice. We will teach our son about Santa because we plan on it becoming his first lesson in philanthropy. The original St. Nicholas stories have the good saint assisting women living in poverty, and he does so with no expectation for reward. Where else do we hear stories of altruism in our world? Where else are we encouraged to give gifts anonymously--giving all the credit to someone else? (Yes, I know, Jesus--the best altruist. But, it's easier to teach a very small child about altruism through the giving of gifts than through death on a cross. Our son will learn about both, but developmentally the concrete reality of a gift will be more appropriate than the abstract reality of the paschal mystery for a few years).
Thus, as we prepare for our first Christmas as mamas...well, let's just say the stockings are already hung by the chimney (read, above the couch) with care ready to be filled to bursting. But, there is an extra stocking in our house--already filled to the gills. A stocking prepared with love and prayers, a stocking that will be given to a child in a shelter, from Santa. Because, Santa is magic like that!