It’s Christmas, Not Santamas

J. Conrad Guest, author of A Retrospect In Death and A World Without Music (plus several other books) just posted a blog about tolerance, and how there seems to be so little of it, especially now during the Christmas season.

Guest wrote: I’ve long remained publically mute on the subject of Christmas, but this year I voice my opinion. You’re offended that I celebrate Christmas as the birth of a Messiah. You tell me he is but a myth. I have news for you. Santa isn’t real. He doesn’t make toys at his home at the North Pole, nor does he circle the globe on Christmas Eve to deliver toys down the chimneys of billions of people—many who don’t have chimneys. I don’t push on you my belief in God, even though, in my mind, there is a greater chance that He exists than does Santa. But go ahead, put up on your front lawn your inflatable Santa, and the sleigh and reindeer on your roof. I can tolerate that, even if you can’t tolerate the nativity scene on my lawn, and petition City Hall to make me take it down.

nativityHis words struck a chord with me. I get annoyed with having to pander to the intolerant at this time of year. It’s CHRISTmas, for cripes sake. That’s the whole point of the day. No matter what non-Christians are trying to make us all believe, the day is not Santamas. I am sick of the constant message that we must believe in Santa Claus, sick of having that stupid myth foisted on me, sick of the eternal seesawing there is/isn’t a Santa Claus. If people are so willing to accept Santa as an icon of the season (an icon who so obviously isn’t real) then what difference does it make to them if some people use crèches or some other image to personify the day? Crèches are the spirit of the day and more fitting than santas and elves and those stupid flying reindeer. Taking that red-suited image to the height of absurdity, a neighbor has a nativity scene with a Santa praying over the baby. Huh?

I simply don’t get it. Since the non-Christian world adapted a Christian holy day for their own, then they cannot complain about the religiosity. (Supposedly the Christians co-opted a Roman holiday, so it’s ironic that the same thing is happening again but to Christians this time.) Sometimes when I see one message too many about how we can no longer say, “Merry Christmas” because it offends some people, I just want to scream, “Get over it, folks, It’s CHRISTmas. If you don’t like it, start your own damn holiday.”

The Santa myth is particularly odious since the obese gent so obviously favors the rich. It makes poorer kids feel bad that they weren’t good enough to get the rich-kid stuff they wanted. And why engender a belief in such a ridiculous myth in the first place? I knew a guy who fought in Vietnam. There they were at Christmas, hunkered down on some God-forsaken hill that they had just taken for the second or third time. They got to talking about the most disillusioning moment in their lives, and almost all of them said it was when they found out there was no Santa Claus. Why are people still perpetuating such a lie and for no particular reason?

Oops. Sorry. Didn’t mean to get on my soapbox, but as I said, J. Conrad Guest really hit a chord. Wishing you all a tolerant and happy Christmas season.


Related post: What Do You Say to Someone Who is Grieving at Christmas?


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, andDaughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

4 Responses to “It’s Christmas, Not Santamas”

  1. J. Conrad Guest Says:

    There’s a commercial that has gotten a lot of airplay since Thanksgiving, a Meijer commercial. Meijer is a local retailer in Michigan. The commercial depicts a family decorating a house with Christmas lights—a lot of lights. Think Christine Baranski’s house in Ron Howard’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Only in the commercial, it’s not their own house they’re decorating, it’s their neighbor’s. When they finish, they go inside their own home and watch for their neighbor to arrive home. Eventually a car pulls into the driveway and out pops an old blue haired woman of about seventy-five years, all smiles, and all I can think is, “You live on a fixed income and your neighbors just tripled your electric bill!”

    Yes, Santa is a myth. I have no real issue with it (or him), although I wonder what effect it has on young people when they learn the truth: that their parents—the two people they most trust in the world—lied to them for years. But, treat Christmas for what it really is about—the birth of a savior—and people get squirrely.

    I live in one of the largest Muslim communities in the country, and they celebrate Ramadan, a month of fasting followed by what is called Eid al-Fitr, or the Festive of Fast-breaking, which can get pretty loud. I don’t take issue with that, I really don’t. I’m not offended and I don’t feel my beliefs are being attacked. This is supposed to be a country of freedom, and it’s large enough that everyone should feel free and comfortable in celebrating their culture and beliefs. But apparently it’s not.

  2. Paula Kaye Says:

    I have absolutely no problems with both Christ or Santa. We do both. We always have and I am sure it will go on much longer than I am alive. I haven’t ever heard of anyone in my entire life that was mentally harmed when they found out their parents lied to them about Santa. I just don’t think perpetrating the myth really hurts anything at all. It is all in good fun. BUT…if people don’t want to do it, I certainly wouldn’t inisist that they do. And if I want to celebrate Christ’s birth (which we do) then I expect the same tolerance for that too. Unfortunately we are now living in a world that just won’t let people alone for doing what they want. Whether is it believing in Santa or believing in God! Have a Merry CHRISTmas Pat!

  3. mickeyhoffman Says:

    Most people who aren’t Christian just roll their eyes at all the hype. When I was a kid, though, it was a very painful time for me. When I grew up, being one of two NON Christians in my entire school I was subjected to a lot of prejudice for not celebrating the holiday. The teachers started getting ready in November. Every day, it seemed, there was something with a Christmas theme to it. Many Christians have no idea what it feels like to be on the “outside”. It’s not as bad these days, but there wasn’t any talk of multiculturalism in those days in that part of Chicago. Knowing Chicago, probably still isn’t much tolerance. None of the decorations bother me unless I think they’re ugly. Some of the lights are gorgeous. But I just wait for it to be over and try to ignore the whole thing. When did it stop being a religious DAY and end up being a marathon?

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      It stopped being a religious day and ended up being a marathon — a commercial marathon — when folks (both religious and non-religious folks) realized what a goldmine there is in making it a race to the bank. The holiday never bothered me before — probably because Jeff and I together didn’t partake, and then afterward, I tried to make it a special day for my father, but this year I feel as if I’ve officially entered curmudgeonliness, and so it all bothers me. Except for the lights. I truly see that this is a naturally sacred time, more of a time of hope than spring, even, and so I will continue with my own light festival in the coming years and try to ignore all the rest of it.

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