Saying “No” to Santa

I am going to open up this can of worms for the second year in a row. I am having an honest struggle with Santa Claus. I was raised with my parents doing Santa Claus. I can remember thinking that I heard sleigh bells when I was five years old, waiting in anticipation for Christmas morning. My parents did a great job of making Christmas a special time. That is why I am shocked that I am struggling with the decision to do Santa Claus or not. The Easter Bunny is already a big no for my husband and me.

Here’s my struggle. I believe that Santa Claus overshadows the birth of Jesus Christ in our culture. I also do not think that the Santa Claus of today is St. Nicholas, that heretic fighting, children loving, Bishop of the Church who spent time in prison for the Faith. A man living in the North Pole with a bunch of elves, who sometimes is an elf himself, is more like the story Twas’ the Night Before Christmas than St. Nicholas. I know there are people who would debate this with me, and I respect their opinion. I just don’t see the resemblance these days.

St. Nicholas, defender of the Faith.

St. Nicholas, defender of the Faith.
Anymore I associate rampant materialism with Santa Claus. A story that taught children basic morality has turned into a “give me stuff” mentality. It is no longer tell Santa the one thing you want for Christmas. It is now tell Santa everything you want for Christmas, so your parents can go trample one another on Black Thursday….Friday. Call me cynical. I know a lot of it is how you do it in your own family. There are plenty of Catholic families who do a nice temperate job with Santa Claus. That is great.
Does this really look like St. Nicholas?  Is Santa Claus serving Jesus Christ these days?
Does this really look like St. Nicholas? Is Santa Claus serving Jesus Christ these days?
Here is my biggest question: If we get the birth of Jesus Christ, Savior of the World on Christmas, then why do we need Santa Claus? I am a great lover of the Communion of Saints, by the way, but like I said, I barely see the resemblance between St. Nicholas and Santa Claus. In fact, if Catholics are honest they will see that historically Santa Claus was created to deflect a Catholic Feast Day. I do not believe that the Protestants who created the character had the current Santa Claus in mind, though. He has evolved through story-telling in the elite quarters of the last couple of Centuries.
The interesting thing is that my Protestant friends are less likely to do Santa Claus in their home than Catholics. My Protestant friends outright condemn the materialism that Santa Claus has created and are vehemently opposed to lying to their children. I find Matt Fradd’s post, a Catholic apologist, on this is topic to reflect how I view the situation. He quotes the Catechism of the Catholic Church on lying. I highly recommend you read his thoughts on Santa.
But, once again, my biggest struggle is that Jesus Christ should be enough. If we want to celebrate St. Nicholas, then December 6th is the best day to do it. That is what we do in our home. We remember the generosity of this great defender of the Faith by giving small gifts, oranges, and candy. In my mind the wonder and joy of Christmas, the “magic” if you will, should come from God, who created all things and became man to save us from sin and death. Like Matt Fradd said in his post, ‘if we are losing the magic of Christmas when Our Savior was born, then we are doing it wrong.’
The true joy, wonder, and awe comes into the world to save us.  That is Christmas!
The true joy, wonder, and awe comes into the world to save us. That is Christmas!
I am not condemning folks who do Santa Claus, so please do not misunderstand me. I am merely pointing out that some honest reflection should be in order. If you can balance Santa Claus and the birth of Christ in your family then that is wonderful. If you start to think about it and see that Santa is more important than Christ, then some changes should be made. If like me, you don’t see the need for Santa Claus and don’t like lying to your children, then consider getting rid of Santa and focusing on Jesus Christ. All joy stems from Him.
I have had some pretty nasty responses to my questioning Santa Claus. I have heard that I will ruin my daughter’s childhood, to I am committing the sin of scrupulosity, to I should just do Santa anyway. Well, I have to do things based on my informed conscience. I had this struggle last year, when our daughter was a one year old. I never thought I would be here, but then again, I never saw myself where I am spiritually either. My husband thinks that God has given me this struggle for a reason. Perhaps he wants me and my family to focus solely on Him during the Christmas season and that is why he has placed this in my heart. We honor St. Nicholas on his day, but focus on Jesus Christ on the Feast of the Nativity. We still exchange gifts to celebrate, but they are from us and our family. My husband wants us to do gifts on Epiphany. We are still debating that one.
My daughter will have plenty of wonder, joy, and “magic” in her childhood. She gets to celebrate throughout the year as we live the Church calendar. She gets two birthdays, her actual day of birth and her Baptism anniversary when she was made a new creation in Christ. She also gets to celebrate Easter, Marian Feast Days, and our family patron saints. She will be introduced to Narnia, Middle-Earth, A Wrinkle in Time, and other great works of fiction that will engage her imagination. There will be no shortage of awe in this home.
What are you thoughts? What do you do in your home? Do you live liturgically? Have you thought about getting rid of Santa? Please keep it charitable. Advent blessings!

Celebrating the Feast of Saint Nicholas-December 6th

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Today is the Feast Day of St. Nicholas.  Happy Feast Day!  We celebrate this feast in our family.  My husband and I decided to incorporate his childhood tradition of stockings on December 6th to our own family traditions.  We did stockings on Christmas morning in my family.

My husband and I want to live more liturgically, so this is a great opportunity to celebrate the actual St. Nicholas, minus the commercialism.  Let’s be honest, Santa Claus, does not much look like St. Nicholas these days.  I even have my doubts that they are the same.  I will write about that later.  When we think about it, how much do we actually know about this Fourth Century Bishop of Myra, from Asia Minor?  Much of what is known about him has become legend, but what we do know is that he was a great defender of the Faith, generous, charitable, he was imprisoned, and fought the Arian heresy that has denied the divinity of Christ for centuries.  The American version of Santa Claus was brought to North America by Dutch Protestants who had transformed him into a nordic magician of sorts.  Catholic feast days were not popular in the US and Reformation countries.
Since we are in the middle of Advent, the Feast of St. Nicholas is the one day we start gearing up for Christmas.  I slowly bring out Christmas decorations.  The Tree is still a week off for us.  I pulled out the Nativity Set without Jesus and the Wise Men.  I have purple bows outside and on our wreaths.  I make a nice meal, we even eat meat on Fridays.  Tonight I made a venison roast that we did not end up eating.  We made a last minute decision to go with some friends to the Christmas parade downtown.  Normally we would eat dinner and then exchange stockings.  We each get an ornament that has been selected by a member of the family.  We also have a little bit of candy, oranges, and a small gift.
Being Catholic is a celebration.  We get to celebrate Baptism anniversaries, patron saint feast days, as well as other feast days that are important for our family.  It is a great way to show our daughter that we are a joyful people.  We live carrying our Crosses, but there is so much to celebrate in the joy that is in Christ Jesus.  The ultimate battle was won in the Resurrection.  His saints show us the way to Him.  St. Nicholas walked the path of holiness before us.  There is much to learn by his example.
I highly recommend bringing this feast day into your home.  For my husband and me the whole Santa thing (the verdict is still out on whether we will even do Santa, leaning towards no) makes sense today and not on Christmas.  Christmas is about the God-Man who became a baby.  The Savior of the world coming to us.  There is nothing that can compare!  Advent blessings.
Do any of you have St. Nicholas Feast Day traditions?