I was watching a feel good family movie the other night, and they started singing “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”. As the movie finished, I couldn’t help but start singing my own jazzed up version as I buzzed around the house, before all at once the lyrics hit me. And I realised I hate Santa Claus.
The lyrics, if you’re unfamiliar with them [or so used to singing them that you’ve forgotten what you’re singing] go a little something like this.
“You better watch out,
You better not cry,
You better not pout I’m telling you why,
Santa Claus is coming to town.
He’s making a list,
And checking it twice,
He’s gonna find out who’s naughty and nice,
Santa Claus is coming to town.
He sees you when you’re sleeping,
He knows when you’re awake,
He knows when you’ve been bad or good,
So be good for goodness sake.”
Because apparently it’s fine to have an old man watch you when you’re sleeping if he’s got a few reindeer on your roof.
I don’t like Santa Claus partially based on the fact that, as a role in our current Christmas culture, he’s made up. [Sorry for ruining it- if you didn’t know, maybe you should have a chat with your parents.] I know that there was an original Saint Nicholas [Saint=Santa; Niklaus= Claus], but the spirit of what he was all about has been completely twisted to sell more product. Saint Nicholas was actually all about giving to every kid, and didn’t keep a list. He just wanted to give. Then Coca Cola took the idea of some old guy giving gifts and stuffed him in a red and white suit to sell more soda. If you don’t feel cheated, give me a second.
Because the second thing I hate about Santa Claus is that he’s meant to give gifts based on whether a child is good or not. If they were “naughty” [so to speak] they were meant to only receive coal in their stocking. Nowadays, every parent feels obligated to give their children gifts, regardless of whether they’ve been an awful little brat because Santa’s face is plastered everywhere, and I began to wonder whether it’s then putting the pressure on the kids to be naughty or nice or the parents. After all, if they don’t buy their kids a [few] present[s], then are they really good parents? Technically, I can’t remember a year I was ever completely good. If the premise for our receiving gifts was based on our merit, I’m not sure a lot of shops would be happy with their profits. And yet consider this- we are a society that gives gifts not because anyone deserves them but because we want to. For the majority of the time, we don’t want to go Christmas shopping for people we have to, we want to go Christmas shopping to buy presents for our loved ones. And that’s somewhere where I think the undertow of actual Christmas is still mixed in with the current.
Bear with me here- if Santa gave gifts based on who is naughty or nice, really, we wouldn’t want to worship him as we do, because the best gifts are undeserved. Although we expect them on our birthday, anniversaries, and Christmas time, we haven’t actually worked very hard to get them. It’s just a thing we do. But then I need to point out [this is a Christian blog after all] that the whole reason we get and give gifts in the first place is because of a gift originally given that no one deserved, because they’d been “naughty”. Theoretically, we’d all have huge lumps of coal in our stockings forever. But God gave us Christ.
So that’s the third and final thing I hate about Santa Claus. Saint Nicholas wanted to give all the children gifts to remind them of the original gift we were given, when the God of the universe sent his one and only son to live a life that would ultimately end in a death to bring salvation- undeserved, and free. Then we twisted him into a way to sell things, and distract people from the actual meaning of it all – trust humanity to stare at the frame of a beautiful portrait. And that’s why I hate Santa Claus. Because he’s not the main focus, or not meant to be, and yet he’s becoming it. And I realised that as I sung that song and didn’t concentrate on the words, so I sing Christmas Carols and forget the story they’re telling. A story about the greatest gift ever given. Even when I was written in permanent marker on a naughty list, God gave me a gift. And so, my friends and family give me gifts every year as well that I probably don’t deserve, because they love me and we’re celebrating something. Santa wouldn’t do that.
Santa Claus, may I boldly say, kind of sucks.