Last week, I said three ridiculous things on an interview with a Christian radio station.
Here is what I said:
1. “Alvin and the Chipmunks are Demon Rodents.”
The radio show was asking callers if Christians should be listening to non Christian Christmas songs. When one caller said she loved the chipmunks, that is the first thing that came to my head. Clearly I was joking, chipmunks are adorable. (As I mentioned in another post, squirrels in your attic on the other hand are from the devil.)
2. “’Where’s the line to see Jesus?’ is the ‘Christmas Shoes’ 2.0.”
There’s a new Christmas song where a little kid is at the mall and kind of jukes a lady by asking her where’s the line to see Jesus since he can clearly see the line for Santa but none for Christ. A caller said she loved the Christmas Shoes song so I pitched her that other one as “Christmas Shoes Part Deux.” I stand by that assessment. (Both songs will get played a lot because there are a ton of folks who love them.)
3. “Christmas is the only time you’ll hear Wham, Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera on Christian radio.”
It’s true, for 11 months of the year, we’re not having Xtina on Christian radio, but in December we say to her, “Get over here you rascal and sing ‘Oh Holy Night.’”
Looking back on those three things, I was really able to pack a lot of silly into a seven-minute interview. And, we even managed to discuss the problem with Santa. (If you are 6 and inexplicably reading this blog, this is a spoiler alert. Stop reading if you don’t want to know the truth about the North Pole.)
One caller said something I have heard often from Christians when it comes to the man in red. She said, “We’re not telling our kids about Santa, because when they find out he’s not real, they won’t believe that God is real when we tell them about him.”
Have you ever heard that? I’m not sure if it’s a Baptist thing or a Bible Belt thing but this show was out of New York and Canada so maybe that theory is national at this point. Regardless of its popularity though, I think there are two flaws with it.
The first is that in no other aspect of imagination do we put the same constraint. For instance, for a solid year, I’m pretty sure my kids thought the Wiggles and the Doodlebops were real. They watched their shows, they sang their songs, they loved those brightly colored/oddly terrifying characters. And not once did my wife and I say, “When they find out Captain FeatherSword isn’t real, they probably won’t believe in an all powerful God later on in life.” Sure, the Wiggles are different than Santa and we imbue a lot of “belief” language around him, but we only talk about him for six weeks a year. We wiggled for a solid year and discussed the Wiggles far more than we do Santa in an average Christmas season.
Kids are imaginative, that’s what they do. If I play along with their American Girl Dolls or take my oldest daughter to a Narnia film and she really believes it, I’m not afraid that I’ve effectively prevented her from believing in God. We’d never say, “I’m not taking my son to see Lord of the Rings, because if he ever finds out Gandalf is not real, he won’t believe in God.” We might rail against Harry Potter, but even that is not because we’re afraid if they find out Harry Potter is not real our kids won’t believe in God.
The bigger issue though with the Santa problem is that I’m not sure it really ever comes to fruition. For instance, I’ve had dozens of people tell me that they have a hard time seeing God as a loving father because their own father was not loving. They feel stuck and trapped with a broken filter of their own father that they apply to God. I completely believe that happens and have heard it a lot. Do you know what I’ve never heard? I’ve never had a friend tell me:
“I want to believe in God, I do, but I can’t get beyond my Santa Claus issues. I have ‘Kris Kringle complex.’ When I found out Santa wasn’t real as a 7 year old, I swore off God that day with a kind of a Charlton Heston final scene of Planet of the Apes anger.”
No one says that. And we’re also not seeing the damage of a generation who grew up believing Santa was real only to learn he’s not. By that I mean there aren’t any books for adults designed to help you get over your Santa problems. Zondervan hasn’t published “Get the man in red out of your head.” Thomas Nelson has not published “Empty stocking, full heart.” Lifeway is not doing a ladies conference called “Deeper Still Than Santa.” There’s not an industry to support the thousands and thousands of 30 year olds struggling with Santa Claus, because there are not thousands and thousands out there who do.
Now clearly this will be the moment I hear from the 17 people on the planet who have in fact confessed to a Christian counselor that Santa Claus shotblocked God for them, but I still think we’ve blown the problem with Santa out of proportion. I think most folks will say that the Santa vs. God thing isn’t an issue, but instead that they don’t want to “lie” to their kids. I understand that point and know that some kids have said “you lied to me mom and dad,” but we also have to be careful that we don’t miss out on the word “pretend.” I’d never say to my kids, “I don’t want to create a house of lies. I need to be honest with you and confess that My Little Pony is simply a lump of hard plastic not a real pony, when I did that magic trick and took your nose, I really didn’t take it, and I always know the end of your knock knock jokes but have been living a lie by acting like I didn’t all these years. To be perfectly honest with you, ‘Knock, knock, who’s there, a tornado of spanking’ is not that funny. I fake laughed. I hate to say that, but I refuse to lie to you kids.”
I think every parent needs to be deliberate and smart about how they handle Santa and Christmas in general, but lets not throw him under the God bus. Don’t talk about him for a million other reasons, but I’m not sure the God reason is the best one.
What do you think?