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We Don’t Even Have a Chimney

Memo to the comprehension-impaired: This post is not about Santa or people who deceive their children. It is primarily about the sin of some of those people against the rest of us who choose truth, and are quite satisfied with Jesus alone. It is written, first, in zeal for the truth, and second, as a call to, and in hope of, repentance.

It happens. Some school teacher tells the truth about the mythical fat man from the North Pole, and parents flip out as though something wrong has been done. Christian parents, whom I would expect to love truth, are often as outraged as the pagans.

Now, I agree that it is within the parents’ rights (legally, if not morally) to tell their children whatever they want. Let them tell their children that a jolly fat man who lives at the North Pole—there is no land at the North Pole, by the way—makes an annual visit to every good child (Romans 3:10–18) on the planet via a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer. Let them say that the moon is made of cheese, global warming is a legitimate threat, Ralph Nader would make an excellent President, and they can accomplish anything with enough self-esteem. Parents are certainly entitled to decide what to tell their children, and I am right out front in the battle against anyone who says otherwise. That is why we homeschool.

On the other hand, my right to teach my children whatever I see fit does not translate into an obligation on anyone else to back up my story. I have no right to wax indignant because someone says there is no Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, or Santa Claus.

“But,” you say, “They don’t have to go out of their way to do it. Furthermore, not all truth must be told. Some truth should not be told.” Then you might give an example of crossing the street to tell someone they’re ugly , which is a ridiculous comparison, for a few reasons. First, ugly is subjective. That anyone is ugly is neither true nor false. Second, supposing ugly is a fact, there could never be a good reason for saying so. What kind of person would do that?

Third, and most importantly, it would be highly unusual for anyone to be forced to declare someone to be ugly. Anyone who spends a lot of time with children will inevitably be faced with the necessity of either affirming or denying Santa Claus. Any teacher committed to telling the truth, no matter how studiously he avoids the subject, will eventually have to say, “No, sorry, it’s just a story.” You have no right to object to that, and to expect them to cross their fingers and lie.

Then there are the children who know the truth. Eventually, they learn to avoid the subject and keep quiet. Little kids haven’t learned that, and they don’t have the skill to maneuver through this minefield as adults can. Sometimes, they are just going to blurt out, “There’s no Santa Claus!” There is no malice or guile in that, and I would be ashamed to hear my children say otherwise when they know the truth. Children lose any illusion of innocence far too soon as it is. I will not teach them to lie for any reason.

“But,” you say again, “Surely you tell your children stories; not everything you tell them is technically true.” Yes, we tell stories, and some of them are real whoppers; but we call them fiction. We don’t actually convince our children that there really are trolls living under bridges or pigs that can build houses or bears that eat porridge. We never try to convince them of anything that is not true. The possible example you’re thinking of right now? No. I don’t need to know what it is, the answer is, “No. Absolutely not. Nope; not that, either.”

As aggravating and absolutely wrong as it is to expect complicity in deceit, worse is the scorn that is often heaped upon those who choose to tell their own children the truth. I’m talking about Christians who look down on others for telling their own children the truth. We are stealing joy from our children. We are “miserable, dour adults” who “suck the fun out of” Christmas, “so-called ‘Christians,’” “jerks” [Update: Add “ashen and odious” to the descriptions of a Christ-only Santa-free Christmas].

That attitude is astonishing. First, to be contemptuous of others for telling the truth—for telling the truth!—is audacious beyond description. Second, to think that the legitimate focus of Christmas is somehow lacking, and that a fairy tale can add anything to the true story of God incarnate, born of virgin, without sin, who lived and died to bear my sin and secure eternal life for me! The true story of the incarnation alone needs a companion fairy tale, or Christmas won’t be fun! Such attitudes are unworthy of Christians.

Tell your children whatever you want. That really is not my concern, or the focus of this article. Your children will probably grow up just fine, although many have testified to the harm done to their faith when they learned the truth about Santa. Just don’t expect complicity from me. Don’t expect sympathy when you throw your temper tantrums over the gall of some teacher who told the truth. Don’t expect an apology when your child discovers that mine doesn’t believe in Santa. You see, if maintaining your deceit requires me to be deceitful too, you’re on your own. If that “suck[s] the fun out of” your Christmas, I’m afraid you’ve missed Christmas anyway.


Posted 2006·12·05 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Christmas · Gripes · Solus Christus · Truth
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#1 || 06·12·05··13:21 || Tim Challies

My children have a long history of breaking the hearts of other little children by telling them that Santa doesn't exist. That is all.

#2 || 06·12·05··13:27 || David

I don't think ours have done that much yet. I don't know of any time they have, anyway. It definitely could happen, though.

By the way, this post is Steve Weaver's fault. He started it.

#3 || 06·12·05··15:47 || Michael

Thanks David and Steve. I was wondering who would launch the Claus discussion as we approach the 1st Advent holiday. I was just talking to our children the other day about the importance of not only telling the truth, but of being able to distinguish between reality and fiction. Too many people in our culture live in the latter world, believing that Christ too is a myth - just like the fat guy in the suit.

2 Corinthians 1:18 But as God is faithful, our word to you is not yes and no.

#4 || 06·12·05··15:56 || David

Michael, thanks for reminding me how "Claus" is spelled. I fixed it.

#5 || 06·12·05··17:56 || Brian @ voiceofthesheep

Hey, Hey...fellow homeschooler and Santa Claus bubble burster!

We took our four downtown (Atlanta) last Monday night so they could see the jolly fellow. Only, the person dressed up in the red suit was their PawPaw (my wife's dad)! This was to be his last year playing the role as he is retiring, and we wanted the kids to see him dressed up like that.

We had to wait on him to come down to let us in to the parking area before the festivities began, and we told them Santa was coming to let us in to park. You should have seen our two youngest...especially when they saw him coming all dressed up but without the beard and hat. My four-year old just smiled and yelled, "That's my PawPaw!"

As one now coming out of the Santa conspiracy, I think it went a long way in taking some of the mystery out of the whole Santa thing, and will be easier to let them down completely. I'm not sure how many children they ruined the belief in Santa for that night, as they continually yelled, "Hey PawPaw!", "Bye PawPaw!".

#6 || 06·12·06··09:13 || Don Fields

Excellent! Just the right amoung of indignation coupled with a healthy, thoughtful dose of the truth. Thanks!

#7 || 06·12·06··21:43 || Karen

Here's our story. In the 16 years that we've been honest with our 4 children, we've been threatened with a call to the child protective services (I suppose for abusing our children), asked if and where our kids went to preschool so those realizing our children knew the truth wouldn't ruin it for their kids, and the worst of all, our Christian neighbor calling me b/c our 3rd son broke the news to their son about Santa. She begged me to tell Josh to recant and to not allow our children to be honest about it b/c she wasn't ready to deal with that in her family yet. I was speechless. What I have told my children from the beginning is that we would NEVER lie to them. So there's no Santa, there's no Easter bunny and as my now 16 yr. old told me when he was 5 "If there's no Santa and no Easter bunny, how do you expect us to believe in the tooth fairy?"

#8 || 06·12·08··14:04 || Jeri


I enjoyed your comment; using the word "recant" in regards to Santa Claus is pretty good, but that last line is classic! Thanks for a good laugh, and thank you David for your helpful thoughts.

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