This information is presented exactly as Suzanne Muldowney wrote it.
It is on my blog as a matter of record and not here to be argued about or debated.
Ever since the real St. Nicholas, who lived in the 4th or 5th century A.D., gained popularity by giving money to the poor and aiding the less fortunate of his immediate area, humankind has exaggerated his story by making him overrated and falsely deified when it comes to celebrating Christmas. We may have some ideas about where our mistakes lie, but there are other mistakes, even wrongdoings, which we probably never have taken into consideration and which we decry on a regular basis in our rites of worship. Humankind, over the centuries, has over glorified St. Nicholas by making him into the mythical Santa Claus, and in doing so has slipped backward in terms of morals and virtues it teaches every generation of children to have, as well as in terms of progressing with time. This is the twenty-first century; the time for waking up and facing facts is long overdue.
From the moment Halloween is over, or sometimes even as early as July, since some TV channels have “Christmas in July” programs, numberless stores start displaying their Christmas merchandise, and in doing so they confront the public with abundant, ubiquitous representations of Santa Claus. From animated figurines, to his likeness on packaging, to signs, to commercials for goods which show him, the average citizen cannot go without his/her daily business without encountering some Santa representation.
There are numberless commercials showing Santa in them. Most of them are for retail merchandise, but others for upcoming Christmas concerts show Santa interacting with the musicians. Commercials for musical albums sometimes have many costumes Santas in bunches. Commercials for holiday-oriented movies reveal that Santa is part of their plots, even the key figure. Commercials for restaurants that open for Christmas Day stress that Santa will appear live in these establishments. Even commercials shown after Christmas Day, for weight-loss programs, engage Santa in them. The reader themselves can find many other examples.
As time draws close to Christmas, people see representations of other popular fictional characters wearing Santa caps or suits. In countless workplaces, thee supervisors and sometimes even the underlings wear Santa caps while on the job.
In fostering Santa, we overlook the fact that Santa as we say he looks does not look anything like the real St. Nicholas looked, in terms of physique or dress. Not once in all the representations of Santa does he look true to life, as a church bishop, as the real St. Nicholas was. The obvious image of Santa was devised by 19th century cartoonist Thomas Nast.
Of course, we have numberless live impersonators, dressed in full uniform and engaged to make youngsters believe that Santa Claus is real yet magical, superhuman person who brings loads of presents at Christmastime and, allegedly, can accomplish many other extraordinary feats. But the way Santa traditionally looks and dresses is totally unauthentic.
Once a household decides that it’s time to start planning for the next Christmas, the parents immediately confront their children-even when the children know nothing about Christmas and are going through it for the first time-with Santa Claus, rather than with the real focal point.
Beginning at Thanksgiving Day, an sometimes just before it, and continuing up until Christmas, when major parades are held, they are always topped off by the alleged real, honest-to-goodness Santa Claus. These parades forbid the participants, in preparing their entries and themes, to include a Santa in their plans. Instead, there is to be only one Santa at the very end; how the person is chosen is unknown. Christmas parades that are made into competitions award trophies topped with Santa figurines, or other Santa-representative artwork.
In all of these instances, Santa Claus, not Jesus Christ, is made first and foremost. Numberless generations are guilty of placing first attention, efforts, hype, and energy on Santa, not on Jesus. We o not focus equal time, energy or hype on Jesus that we do with Santa. It must be remembered that the purpose of the holiday known as Christmas is to honor and commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. Though society tries to do away with the religious element, it cannot ignore the historical element. We must remember other holidays rooted in honoring the births of people in history, even if those people were not divine. An excellent example is Martin Luther King, Jr. Though he was clerical but not divine, we celebrate his birthday annually. But – most important! – we do not misdirect time or attention on someone else! We must also remember that the word Christmas is in honor of Christ, not Santa Claus, Jesus lived centuries before the real St. Nicholas did; we do not call the holiday “Nicholmas,” “Santamas,” or “Santa Clausmas.”
When we make any topic excessively important, making it figure into all walks of life, making it supposedly omnipotent, and coercing other people to regard it as all-important, to the extent that we admire it too much, we make that topic a false god. The first Commandment expressly forbids this. “I am the Lord thy God; thou shalt not have no other gods before me.” Again, even though religion may not be the priority, one must not forget the historic, and perhaps the social significance.
By making Santa Claus the center of attention in all the aforementioned ways and examples, we have made him a false god. We tell children that Santa Claus can make any wish come true, with the result that some children wish for extraordinary deeds and impractical presents because “he can do anything – he’s Santa Claus!”
Another way we make Santa a false go is by making him, not Jesus, the focal point of holiday parades. It has been said earlier that only one Santa is permitted, at the very end of the parade. A great many entries prepare their themes knowing nothing about the identities or intentions of the other entries, with the result that there can be some duplicate themes. But when a Nativity tableau is a parade entry – and sometimes there can be more than one Nativity scene – it is not given the red-carpet treatment or newspaper/radio coverage that Santa Claus is given.
When we have our newborn children christened, we pledge them to God; yet, in time, we brainwash them about Santa Claus before we’ve taught them the first thing about God or Jesus!
There is no law, inscribed in stone, that children must believe in Santa as though he were God. But we make Santa a compulsion, not an option, for children. “You teach [and enforce] man-made traditions and superstitions as though they were God’s laws.” (Mark 7: 7-8) We force them to go along with the concept of Santa without giving them a choice. It’s like when we first feed our babies solid food; we, not the babies, decide what those foods will be and expect the babies to consume every bit. If a baby refuses to eat food – probably because it doesn’t like the taste, but cannot yet speak for itself – we are intolerant of the baby’s refusal. In time, even when our children can speak for themselves, we compel them to eat foods they do not like because “you must eat whatever is put in front of you” “You must clean your plate.” “It’s good for you.” In the case of Santa we impose him on children and give them no choice. We force them to go along blindly.
Probably the worst way that we make Santa a false god is by telling children that he monitors their behavior, and keeps records, 24/7/365. This concept can be frightening when children are hearing of Santa and Christmas for the first time, and especially when they are under pressure from the grownups always to be good. Consider how the familiar carol “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” makes Santa seem to be a bogeyman rather than a “nice guy” or “jolly old elf.” The song’s very first phrases are threats:
“You’d better watch out! You’d better not cry!
You’d better not pout! I’m telling you why!”
The lyrics go on from there to emphasize that Santa is “making a list and checking it twice…who’s naughty or nice…He knows if you’ve been bad or good,” and then finish with the opening threats. Even if the song is happy the choice of words makes all the difference! Children can be easily intimidated at the idea that someone is watching them and checking up on them every minute. My parents were not only religious fanatics; they were also very severe, intolerant of my slightest mistakes and being me for them. I had a hard enough time reckoning with them alone without having to worry about someone else allegedly observing me every minute and then totaling the score at a certain time. My parents kept behavior charts which accumulated only negative, never positive, points with punishments being administered upon reaching certain numbers of negative points. I was told that Santa, too, kept charts that way. What chance did I have of getting any presents when I apparently was so bad all year round? And once I started school, the teachers and principals also kept academic and behavior records, to betray me to my parents when I had poor grades or when they felt I wasn’t behaving the “right” way. When I was made to visit the resident store Santa, I was afraid to see him because I had been told that he saw everything, knew everything and remembered everything about me. I might as well have been facing the school principal, a priest in the confessional, or – worst – God on Judgement Day. Children have their hands full year round being checked up on by parents, relatives, clerics, and teachers without having to reckon with an alleged additional entity at Christmas. They have enough of a challenge all their lives from God without Santa supposedly keeping behavior charts also. But we still threaten children with empty-handedness on Christmas Day (“Santa Claus isn’t going to come if you don’t behave!”) by making Santa an unseen but omnipresent behavior monitor. Once Christmas is past, we do not raise the subject of Santa again, and get the children involved in other matters; but in late fall we force Santa on the children again (“Do you think you were a good boy/girl this year? It’s time to let Santa know.”) This makes the next Christmas season a time of reckoning, not joy.
Finally, we make Santa a false go by convincing children that he can accomplish anything. But it has been stated earlier that, as a result, children might make impossible wishes. Moreover, by telling children he can do anything, we have to make up excuses such as why Santa succeeds with his gift deliveries even in adverse weather or travel conditions that could seriously delay, or thwart, Grandpa or Aunt Connie or Uncle Mike from visiting on Christmas Day.
Perpetuating Santa in the traditional ways makes us guilty of deeds that we say we must never do, or that we tell our children they must never do. These wrongdoings have not been taken into consideration, or else we give ourselves a shrug; “Oh well, everybody does it.” “So, nobody’s perfect.” But when we can afford to say that God watches us constantly, and keeps records, and will deal with us in the hereafter according to how we spent our lives, we must realize a multiplicity of double standards we are guilty of when fostering Santa Claus in the obvious ways.
1. We teach our children not to lie, yet we deceive them about Santa’s existence.
The Eighth Commandment expressly forbids lying. Though the traditional wording is “Though shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor,” in my first-grade religion book it was reworded to read: “You shall not tell lies.” Thus, in a minimum of words, lying is forbidden, However, we bend the rules for our own benefit saying that fooling children about Santa is “just a little white lie… They have to have something to believe in,” The commandment states what is and what is not allowed in a minimum of words. It does not expand to make exceptions for what we call white lies. As for needing something to believe in, children should be told the truth about Christ’s birth, and about the real St. Nicholas, and that the traditional Santa Claus is only a put-on. My parents were very strict about telling the truth; I was very angry when I found out I had been deceived since I had been subjected to many ordeals from when I could first understand others’ speech, I had been under the impression that children alone made mistakes, did wrong, or committed sin; grownups were perfect; But now! My parents had been dishonest. They had sinned! When I complained to them, they denied having lied and weighed me down with excuses and justifications. Moreover, in the time when I it necessary to tell white lies, my parents did not tolerate it when they expected me to tolerate any that they told. And, they were the ones who set the example!
Remember that when we have our children christened, we are made to renew our own baptismal vows, the first of which is renunciation of sin. Yet, in time, we willfully commit sin by deceiving our children about Santa! We are dishonest; yet we are intolerant of our children being so.
The popular game show Family Feud one time posed the question “Name something grownups do frequently that they tell children never to do.” One of the answers was lying! Along similar lines, another challenge was “Name something parents do that sets a bad example for children.” Again, one of the answers was lying. Thirdly, a question was “Name something parents lie to their children about.” The very first answer, at the top of the list, was Santa Claus!
“O what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive!”
In deceiving children about Santa, we can become entangled in our own lies when we have to explain why he is in a store or mall interacting with children one minute, and then out on the street soliciting funds the next minute. How does he get from the store to the street so fast? When our children watch two or more simultaneous Thanksgiving parades on TV, and the Santas appear at the ends of those parades simultaneously, how do we make the explanation for Santa’s being in New York one minute, in Chicago the next, in Philadelphia the next, and in Detroit the next? How does he commute among all those sites so fast? When he delivers the presents on Christmas Eve, how does he get into the house without a key when there is no chimney and all the doors and windows are locked? How can he bring in the items and leave them there without making noise and waking us up? How can he pack megatons of items into one very compact sleigh? And how can he get through the worst of the weathers or travel conditions that would hinder either relatives or us from traveling? When a relative says “I have some presents for you which Santa left with me” if the presents were for Junior, why did Santa leave them and Aunt Nellie’s?
Numberless parents who lie to their children about Santa have accomplices. Grandparents have lied to their children and had to confess, but now repeat those lies to the grandchildren. Aunts and uncles lie to their relations as well as to their own children. There are other accomplices outside the family: school teachers and principals arrange for a Santa to visit the classrooms or have the children field trip to a store or mall to see him; the Postal Service collects letters to Santa and hires someone to answer those letters to fool the children; the US Department of Commerce has issued a license for Santa to transport the gifts in a sled (someone had to forge his signature on the application); and NORAD, the US missile-defense system, makes phony surveillances and on-the-air progress reports on Christmas Eve about Santa’s sled allegedly being sighted here and there.
By spreading all these falsehoods, we are guilty of breaking the Eighth Commandment and make things difficult for ourselves and our children. Earliest man knew better than to lie, but deliberately chose to commit sin. Our parents deceived us about Santa yet knew better than to lie, having taught us never to do it, but deliberately chose to be dishonest. Each generation grows up having been deceived yet taught not to lie, knowing better than to lie, yet deliberately chooses to repeat the previous generations’ lies about Santa Claus to the next generations!
We can always afford to say to our children when they lie, “I can’t trust you... I don’t believe you... I can’t rely on you because you don’t always tell the truth.” We are no more deserving of our children’s trust when we deceive them, when we tell them never to do so!
2. We involve our children in fantasies like Santa, yet we insist they be concerned only with reality.
It has been previously stated that we make Santa Claus a compulsion, not an option, for our children. We impose him on our children without giving them a choice, yet we object to children’s emulating fictional characters, or making up things like imaginary playmates or fanciful stories.
There is a difference between fantasies that are come upon by chance or self-created, and fantasies that are outwardly imposed and fostered as reality. The Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy are other examples of the latter.
But after a while, we turn the tables. We do not allow our children to concern/involve themselves with anything that isn’t “real” or “the truth” because we say that to so is to indulge in escapisms. I was forced to conform blindly to these non-existent characters. But then my parents turned the tables. I was not allowed to read comic books, novels or fairy tales; or watch TV cartoons, movies, series or specials, or play video games; because the contents of all these sources were fictional. I was made to read newspapers or magazines which dealt with world events; the stories were very depressing. I was not allowed to read humor magazines because allegedly they were escapist. The only movies or TV I was made to watch were those whose plots were presumably true-to-life but also—more importantly—depressing, tragic, doom-and-gloom. All negative! I was not allowed to aspire to ideal situations because “that’s not the way life is.” Being barred from anything non-existent created a problem all through school because when I was assigned to read or write fiction, I had to concern myself with, or create, non-existent characters and situations. Throughout school, we are assigned to read many fictions; we have to learn about non-existent people and their lifestyles. But we still know the accounts are fictional; we are not made to believe they are real! This is where numberless sources go too far with Santa Claus and his supposed doings.
When I had to write fiction, I thought I could be as imaginative as I pleased. Instead, my parents, especially my father, would inspect my compositions and would not let me submit them unless the contents were one hundred percent factual! One time when I made a piece of artwork inspired by an assigned fiction reading, my parents destroyed the artwork. I was not allowed to have interests or hobbies solely for enjoyment; anything I involved myself in had to be intellectually challenging or practical for life. I had had fantasies imposed on me which I had been made to think were real, only to be forbidden to be concerned with anything imaginary. I wasn’t allowed to think, act, write, or speak as I pleased. What did adults think they were? Dictators, to be obeyed blindly? If it could happen to me, it could happen to numberless other growing children –past, present, and future!
3. We make our children sit in Santa’s lap and confide in him, yet we also say “Don’t talk to strangers,” (which is what the Santas are) and “Don’t let strangers touch you.”
Making our children talk to Santa, let alone making them sit in his lap, can be frightening. As infants, when they cannot speak up or defend themselves, our children are physically handled, even hurt, by doctors and dentists. Consider how the instant a baby is born, the doctor –a stranger! -slaps it to get it breathing. When we take our babies to the doctor for their checkups, the doctor jabs a baby with a needle. We force our children to be left with strange adults and children when we leave them at daycare centers. Why must children sit in Santa’s lap, when he is not a parent, grandparent, or any other familiar figure? By the time we set up our children to face Santa for the first time, they have already undergone much physical handling, pain, and confrontation. We had put them at the mercies of strangers! Yet we say not to talk to strangers or let strangers touch our children. Some of us are even so eager to have our children held by, and photographed with Santa, that we let a strange man pick up and cuddle our children when they are still babies, not yet able to talk! Television news has revealed that sometimes the babies are hardly more than newborns! These last two further exemplify exposure to Santa much earlier than to God or Jesus!
Saying that children mustn’t interact with strangers, yet compelling them to interact with Santa Claus, are very dangerous inconsistencies and double standards.
4. We say that Santa bring the presents on Christmas Eve, but we do not allow our children to be witness his arrival.’
“Santa comes only when children are asleep.” “You’d better get to bed so Santa doesn’t find you awake and pass you by.”
We do not allow our children to stay up and witness Santa’s arrival because we cannot afford to be caught in a lie. And we get entangled in other lies, as explained before, as to how he can enter without a key, leave the gifts without making a sound, come and go even in adverse conditions, or leave gifts with relatives that are meant for other recipients.
Another fallacy of this sentiment is that we are letting a stranger into the house; we teach our children never to do so.
5. We have our children leave snacks for Santa, yet we frown on snacking and obesity.
Nowadays when we are obsessed with dieting, losing weight, and staying slim, and imposing the same concepts on our children, we restrict, or forbid altogether, children to snack once in a while, especially on junk food; yet we make a holiday tradition of leaving out goodies for Santa. If and when we feast abundantly between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, we come out of it feeling ashamed and guilty, and immediately resolve to lose weight to punish ourselves. Why then, should we bother to cater to Santa? If Santa were to eat all the snacks offered him by numberless households, he would consume countless calories and gain at least a couple of tons in the process, in just one night! Because we also look down upon obesity, we contradict ourselves by leaving snacks for Santa. We say that he is a fat man! All those snacks would add to his weight problem and diet.
Another example of improper concern was in 1980, when the Dallas TV series aired the episode “Who Shot J.R.?” The public – grownups who enforced reality over fantasy on children - wrongly convinced themselves and their peers that a fiction was real; for months they struggled and labored to solve the mystery. Expectedly, there were letters to the editor reprimanding the adult masses for their inexcusable obsession and hysteria with an imaginary incident. The public wrongfully concerns itself on a fictional issue.
Leaving snacks for Santa and leaving the household free for his own intentions are further examples of improperly letting a stranger into the house.