Because It Was Time: A Confession on Why I Killed Santa Claus

There is a killing that I won’t need to bring to my parish priests’ attention the next time I enter the confessional. I killed Santa Claus a little over a year ago in my own household, and I have absolutely no regrets about doing so either.

Because it had to be done, see? Like when Old Yeller saved the day and protected the family from a rabid wolf.

While protecting his master’s family, Yeller contracted rabies and had to be put down. Travis, left as the man of the house when his father was out on a cattle drive, did what had to be done. And if he wouldn’t have, his mother would have taken care of the matter.

So with tears in his eyes, he put a bullet into Old Yeller and matured in the process. And so did I. I put a stake through the heart of Madison Avenue’s version of Santa Claus and I haven’t regretted it one bit. Because like Old Yeller, the manifestation of modern day Christmas feelings, Santa Claus, is a rabid, crazed, distortion for the real reason of the season: Christ the Lord.

Over the years, I told my children the tale about Santa Claus, just like you have. But last year I wrote of the fact that the true story of St. Nicholas is amazing enough, and that I had clued in all of my children to the truth that the jolly old elf is a fiction.

That was a bittersweet moment for all in my household, and through the extended family, too. The ripples of that telling of the truth affected my children’s behaviors in ways that were a bit painful, and even unexpected last year. But again, that short-term pain was necessary to get to the true reason that we engage in this season of giving.

I did this before all of the current hullabaloo over culture wars and that sort of silliness that has some defending Santa on one side of the aisle, to those that don’t on the other. I love Santa Claus, just like Travis loved Old Yeller. But eventually, I had to do exactly what Travis had to do. And so will you. You will have to put the Jolly Old Elf out of his misery, no matter which way the wind blows over the land.

After Midnight Mass last night, one of our parish priests said something about looking forward to Santa Claus, etc. and I didn’t mind. The parish still has a kids event where “Santa Claus” shows up and kids get to sit on his lap etc. And that is fine too. Hey, Our Lord Himself told the disciples that there was more to tell them but that they couldn’t bear to hear it just yet. Maybe that is where you are with telling your own children about Santa too. Or more importantly, maybe that is where your children still are.

But when the time comes, you will have to do what I did. Be strong, say a prayer, and then pull the trigger. Like how Van Velsing did what had to be done here when he puts a stake through the heart of Lucy, the vampire lover of Count Dracula. I did the same thing with Madison Avenue’s, and hopeful Virginia’s, version of Santa Claus.

And I would do it again in a heartbeat. Call it mean. Call it brutal. Call it cold-hearted.  But I just call it what it is: the triumph of the real over the simulacra. The triumph of the Truth over the Tall Tale. Net result? This year, it has been smooth sailing in my household.

During Mass last night, when the passage from the prophet Isaiah was read to all in attendance, I knew that doing this deed had been worth the short-term pain. Because this is the Truth that my children can bear to hear now,

For a child is born to us, a son is given us;
upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero,
Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
His dominion is vast
and forever peaceful,
from David’s throne, and over his kingdom,
which he confirms and sustains
by judgment and justice,
both now and forever.

Amen.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Update: Taylor Marshall on the other side of this coin.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06868958164647396469 cliff

    Merry Christmas to you too, Scrooge.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18314110968832604067 Brandy Miller

    When Eddie, my now fifteen year old son, was old enough to ask me if Santa Claus was real, I answered him truthfully: Yes, but his name is really Saint Nicholaus and he lived several hundred years ago. It is his spirit of generosity that we remember in the person of Santa Claus, and it is because of Christ that Saint Nicholaus matters at all.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01819831282677092730 Frank

    @cliff, Bob Cratchit here.@Brandy, well done. Definitely a tight-rope walk, especially when you have multiple children.

  • Soutenus

    Wonderful post! (I concur)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10740611327082314715 Sean

    Well-written. I love it and will be coming back for more. Have you read the Republic by Plato? I saw what you said about the truth defeating the tall tale. Plato takes a good chunk out of Book X in The Republic to denounce poetry, which according to his definition I'd say would include the Santa mythology. One if his charges is that poetry is a third-class imitation of reality, and is therefore inferior to philosophy. Any connections, you think?And do you mind if I advertise myself? My blog's at http://whatistheroomofshatteredglass.blogspot.com/

    • http://www.withouthavingseen.com Ryan Haber

      @Sean, I agree with Turgonian. Be careful to remember that Plato uses Socrates as a literary device. He is sort of a motor driving things toward truth. Even his monologues, though, are not necessarily meant to represent Plato’s actual thoughts. They are provocations to thought.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01819831282677092730 Frank

    @Sean, I'm familiar with Plato's Republic, though I don't buy into his thoughts on poetry (see earlier post on Pope's "Messiah"). But I prefer Aristotle's Politics instead. I wish you well in your studies!Thank's for reading and for sharing your blog address.

  • Turgonian

    Don't confuse the words of Socrates with the thoughts of Plato…or the thoughts of Socrates, for that matter. The Republic itself is a work of poetry.


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