This Christmas Season, Consider Becoming a ‘Santa Truther’

Editor’s Note: Nancy’s “Why I am a Santa Truther,” published at Rare has been shared over 20,000 times.  David’s follow-up, printed below, was published on National Review where it has also generated significant heat in the comments section.

In her weekly column at Rare, my wife outed our family as “Santa Truthers,” those killjoys who don’t teach their kids that Santa is real, leaving Christmas to the story of Christ’s birth and the gift-giving to Mom, Dad, and legions of over-generous family members.  

The reason why we’re the commissioners of the No Fun League (at least to hear some critics tell it), is the true story is the better story:

The Christmas story is this: God gave us the perfect gift even when we did nothing to deserve it. (And, in fact, deserved a lot worse than a lump of coal.) Instead of looking at us in our sin and putting us away, God was overcome with love for us. He didn’t hold our wrongdoing against us. Instead, at great cost, He gave us a way to be forgiven and reenter into communion with Him. That gift was His son, in the form of a baby.

The Santa story — other than the tales associated with the historical St. Nick, who’s simply a footnote in this commercial age — is this:

There’s a jolly, wonderful, magical being called “Santa” who is watching you. If you do something wrong, your name will be crossed off the “nice list” and put on the “naughty list.” Want good presents? You had better behave.

Which story is actually better and more comforting? The one that has the added benefit of being true.

The story of God’s grace is at the very heart of the Gospel. Why muck that up with fake stories of magical works-based theology?

To be clear, our kids don’t ruin anyone else’s fun (at least they haven’t yet), and I spend exactly zero hours fretting over the different choices other families make, but for those who worry that the true message of Christmas is lost in the holiday shuffle, being a “truther” is worth a try.

Read more on the Patheos Faith and Family Channel and follow David on Twitter.

  • Richard

    I wonder what you think of Megyn Kelly’s remark placing Santa Claus as just as much an historical figures as our Lord and Savior.

    • Nancy French

      That was a little odd — I think she said it was supposed to be a joke?

      • David Oatney

        Well, if she was talking about the real St. Nicholas, she would be correct.

        the St. Nicholas who loved children and threw gifts down chimneys really existed, but he did not and does not live at the North Pole or ride a sleigh with eight (or nine) flying reindeer.

        He was the Bishop of Myrna in Anatolia. He loved children, often gave gifts secretly to poor children, usually by stealth and sometimes by way of a chimney. He once threw a dowry for one of his parishioners’ daughters down the chimney in this way.

        • Beverly

          I am a devout Christian, and a Santa believer as well. As we know, religion is often filled with symbolism. To me, Santa Claus is a mortal representation of a Christ-like man who promotes giving, charity, and a special love for children. Our Christmas Eve is the highlight of our Christmas as it is a very spiritual evening prepared with a beautiful meal, family gathering, we read Luke 2 in the many different languages that our family speaks, special Christ centered children’s Christmas books, and ending with Christ centered Christmas hymns, and ending in prayer. We begin our Christmas morning with prayer and give thanks for the birth of our Savior and give gratitude for the gifts we are about to share, (and yes those from Santa). We had times in our early married days where we struggled financially, and many anonymous gifts were given. Santa? I say yes! Christlike mortals, playing Santa, following an earthly symbol that leads us to be more like Christ himself. In a world filled with great sorrow and iniquity, I see know harm in the magical representation of Santa Claus in the proper perspective. My favorite artist depiction is of Santa kneeling before the baby Jesus!

  • Brian Bowman

    Why not become a Christmas truther too, like our nation’s founders, and acknowledge it’s all mythology?

    “And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerve in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors.” ~Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823

    “Of this band of dupes and impostors, Paul was the great Corypheus, and first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus.” ~Thomas Jefferson (Jefferson’s Works, Vol. ii., p. 217)

  • stowellbrown

    In our family it was our choice to not ask and not tell anything about Santa Claus. When I was 5 I did tell some Jewish girls that there was no Santa Clause. It didn’t bother them at all! But then they told me my helium balloon would not float away if I let go of it. I believed them and it floated away! I learned a lesson that day–don’t be a truther if others won’t appreciate it!

  • Zeke

    How is this any different than “There’s a jolly, wonderful, magical being called “God” who is watching you. If you do something wrong, your name will be crossed off the “nice list” and put on the “naughty list.” Want to go to heaven? You had better behave.”

    Thankfully there’s not a shred of evidence that this is true either…..

  • Foxhole Atheist

    this is just too funny…blasting santa as fake…rich

  • lebaugh4846

    Just reading this now. I also read your wife’s column on the same subject. Very interesting.
    I certainly can’t take issue with what you’re teaching your kids about Christmas. I mean who can argue with teaching the truth?
    As for me, I firmly believed in Santa until I was about 5. Every Christmas Eve “Santa” would come to our front door bearing gifts. I was always so excited. But as I got older I kept scolding myself that in my excitement I kept forgetting to go outside and see the reindeer on top of our roof, especially Rudolph.
    This was a magical time in my life. I almost lived for Christmas from one year to the next.
    Then one Christmas I told myself firmly to go out and see the reindeer, so when the door opened for Santa, I rushed outside to look. Guess what? Much to my amazement there were no reindeer waiting patiently on the roof.
    Later when I talked with my older sister about it, she asked if I’d noticed that Santa was wearing our dad’s bedroom slippers, which I hadn’t.
    Of course it didn’t take long after that to figure it out. But it made me appreciate my parents for all they went through to provide so much magic and fun for me as a kid. Not to mention that it also was a lesson in discovering that not everything is as it appears.
    I gradually became more discerning after that, and of course my parents knew that eventually I’d figure it out. I certainly hold no resentment, and as far as I can tell there was no psyche damage done as a result of being fooled for several years.
    But we included the story of Jesus’ birth in our celebration, and Santa was simply an expression of giving as the Lord gave us His son.
    As I look back, I would have missed that greatly had my parents not had fun and convinced me in my imagination that Santa was real. I didn’t realize how much fun they had until it was I who became Santa to my own kids.
    To hear their squeal on Christmas morning that Santa had come was just priceless. Of course they too grew up and figured it out. But the photos and the sounds still remain. Maybe Santa isn’t real, but the spirit of Santa certainly is.
    Take care, and may God bless your family . . .