2. For the Second Gripe of Christmas, I will Give to Thee: A mall Santa in front of JC Penney.
I generally like Saint Nick, particularly the German version who either rewards good children with fruit or takes them to sell into slavery. But as I don’t want to sound too much like Dwight Shrute, I will let that be.
My issue with Santa is actually quite extensive. First, there is the typical complaint that Santa is a huge distraction from the whole point of Christmas, and while that is definitely true, I am not a big enough grinch to advocate kicking Santa entirely out. But there has been a clear effort to kick Jesus out of his own birthday party.
When I was a child, my mom told me that Santa was good, but that Jesus was the real reason to celebrate Christmas. Now we have “progressed” to the point where even acknowledging Christmas at all is frowned upon generally. Instead, we call it Holiday. But, while Jesus has been largely thrown out of the party, Santa is still allowed.
The problem is that Mr. Claus is pretty much an anti-Jesus figure in many ways. Santa makes a list and checks it twice in order to separate the good children from the children whom Santa’s NSA network has built a strong enough case against. The children who have acquired enough good karma are rewarded with gifts.
The story of Jesus is that He came to give free gifts to those who especially don’t deserve it. Jesus is specifically showing the message that God is not making a list and checking it twice. This is especially true when you exegete the song a bit. If he is “making a list and checking it twice,” then he is specifically doing it to properly identify the bad kids. If he were only checking his list once with the kid’s behavior, then some kids who were naughty might actually get gifts anyway. Instead, he is making doubly sure to weed out the bad. But God in Christ, is sowing grace prodigally.
But Santa is even more confusing than that. In my childhood, we lived in a house for a while that had a fake fireplace which had been boarded up years ago. I was very concerned about how Santa would get in. My mom offered to keep the door unlocked, a proposition that I felt was unsafe. She told me that Saint Nick had his secret ways. That led to a realization, and many sleepless nights.
Santa is basically the same as a cat burglar. He sneaks in through the chimney or some other weak point in the home. He brings a giant bag, and only enters if everyone is properly asleep. He has the perfect getaway vehicle. At the end of the night he will sneak out of the country. He goes by several assumed names, and he has been casing your family for a long time.
The fact that Santa leaves things instead of taking them is a minor detail he may work out at any time. And how do we know he hasn’t actually been stealing stuff for years. You know all those socks you think the clothes dryer has been swallowing? You can’t prove that he hasn’t been taking them all along.–Ryan