Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Don't Let Your Kids Read This Post

Or, How the Rockettes Reminded Me Why We Don't "Do" Santa

The Rockettes brought a version of their famous Radio City Christmas show to Virginia this week, and I attended with my mother-in-law and the two little girls.

The dancers are definitely talented: energetic, coordinated, and athletic. Some of their costumes were too scanty (faux see-through) and some of their numbers had as much posing and writhing as [what I would call] dancing, but their "can-can" feats and tin soldier precision were truly impressive. Overall, the show was a bit over the top, not exactly my taste, but whatever...

It was the Santa stuff that got me thinking deep thoughts, however. This "right jolly old elf" was on stage several times, which was fine...but...

There was a skit about two boys encountering Santa: a 14 year old skeptic (maybe the toughest kind there is) and his younger brother, a "believer". The boys were transported to the North Pole and back, acquiring the perfect last minute gift for their little sister, and in the process the teen became a "believer" too. The script emphasized over and over again the magic of Christmas and the need to believe in the magic.

I remembered that a Nativity scene was coming up later, and that's when I had my moment of clarity. Putting all that empasis on the importance of believing in someone who's not real and something that's not true can make it harder to believe the mystery of the Incarnation--the eternal God becoming human--infant, sacrifice, and Savior. When the gospel was read by the same characters (and good for the producers, not making a 100% secular Christmas show), it could almost as easily have been another pleasant, inspiring tale, like the Santa episode.

And that's why our family doesn't pretend Santa is real. I don't want to encourage my children to believe truth AND untruth, don't want the potential confusion, don't want to lie (that's how it feels to me).

I know most other families have made a different decision, and I'm okay with that. Not that anyone has asked for my opinion or permission! :-) As it happens, I grew up in a "Santa family", and don't even remember "finding out", so apparently it was no big deal for me. And I'm absolutely NOT writing this to say my way is best, but to explain where I'm coming from, what I've believed for the past 20 years.


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