Saturday, December 21, 2013


Another Christmas-time repost from a few years back. As commenter Eric pointed out, you can tell the Christmas story to your kids and still have the rest of the holiday stuff you grew up with, but really: this is a celebration of an actual historical event of incredibly significant meaning for the entire planet, why do so many parents ignore the main story?
Sweet little Jesus Boy
They made you be born in a manger
Sweet little Holy Child
Didn't know who You was
-Sweet Little Jesus Boy*

Manger Scene This season is more known by pictures of a fat elf in a red and white suit than it is for manger scenes, angels, and baby Jesus. This transformation is in a way not surprising, as America is becoming increasingly hostile toward Christianity and any public displays of Christian faith. At the same time, the commercialism of the nation has become even more pronounced so the image of a gift-distributing myth better fits the culture than a self-sacrificing savior of love and peace.

Yet I have a suggestion for parents. Instead of teaching your children about Santa Claus, instead of telling the story of a magic fat bearded elf who shows up once a year with a reindeer-pulled sleigh, try a different story. Tell your children about Jesus. I know, its radical, but hear me out.

Those of you who are Christians consider possibly telling your children the story of Jesus Christ, of his miraculous birth, his saving mission, his loving parents, the adoring shepherds, the tales of his youth. Tell them about the greatest drama on earth, so they know what Christmas is about. Teach them of the incarnation of God in humanity to live and save and teach and die for salvation and love.
Didn't know you come to save us, Lord?
To take our sins away
Our eyes was blind, we couldn't see
We didn't know who You was.
Those of you who are Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Scientists, and other religions who either consider themselves Christian or heavily borrow from Christian origins, think of the same thing. Even if you have problems with some of the basic Christian doctrines of God and man in one flesh, teach them the story in the Bible, because it is part of what you believe, and Santa isn't.
Long time ago, you was born
Born in a manger low
Sweet little Jesus Boy.
If you are Muslim, then teach them the scriptures as well, teach them of when Jesus came and the stories around his arrival. Read to them from the Bible, because Muhammad taught that it was scripture as well.
The world treat You mean, Lord
treat me mean, too
But that's how things is down here
We didn't know t'was You.
If you are Jewish or Hindu or some other religion, teach your children about Jesus because he was a historical person who walked the earth, teach them the tales about Jesus because the season doesn't make sense without understanding what is said. Teach them the stories about Jesus even if you don't believe them because of the history of western culture and the impact on the world makes it a useful, important thing to know.
You done showed us how
We is trying
Master, You done showed us how
Even when you's dying.
If you are atheist or agnostic, if you think the Bible is a myth and Jesus was just a guy - if he lived at all - teach your children anyway. Teach them about the Jesus myth if that's what you think it is, because if you're going to tell your children a fantasy, why not tell them about the fantasy of Jesus Christ so they understand all those carols and why people celebrate his birth this time of year? It is, as I noted above, an incredibly historical event, a deeply significant thread of the history of the world that has had such transformational power over cultures and years that it cannot be ignored without damaging history and literature.
Just seem like we can't do right
Look how we treated You.
But please, sir, forgive us Lord
We didn't know 'twas You.
Teach them about Jesus instead of a fat elf, because Jesus really lived and is so foundational to our past and our culture, while Santa Claus is a myth largely created by department stores trying to drum up more sales. Santa Claus is a story extremely loosely based on the life of a Christian man in the distant past who would be absolutely horrified at how his legacy is being presented. The Santa we know now is almost completely a commercialized creation, a massive trans-company advertising gimmick that has become so embraced and embedded in culture that it is pushing aside Jesus Christ.

Yes, I know Jesus probably wasn't born around this time of year but now is when we celebrate his birth. Yes, I know some of you think Santa is so cute and fun for the kids, but so is the amazing story of Jesus. Yes I know you think Santa is an irreplacable part of giving gifts and the "spirit of Christmas" but he's a pale, weak shadow of the ultimate gift which encourages giving and the true Spirit that shone on that day long ago. Children love Jesus, believe me.

Just a humble suggestion to consider. Forget Santa. Forget the socks on the mantle. Forget reindeer, red-nosed or otherwise. Teach Christ.
Sweet little Jesus Boy
Born long time ago
Sweet little Holy Child
And we didn't know who You was.
*Sweet Little Jesus Boy is an old negro spiritual from the south that slaves sung about Jesus and his birth. The themes of forgiveness, cruelty of man, longing for freedom, and the love of Jesus are powerful today, even long past the ending of slavery.

1 comment:

Eric said...

We're not a Christian household, but this time of year, along with Easter, I do make a point of talking a lot more with my daughter about the story of Jesus, as opposed to the philosophy of Jesus (which I talk to her about often, year round). We do the Santa Claus stuff too, although this will probably be the last year for that (I said that last year), because she's getting too old for it and just pretending in order to be nice to her mother.

So I think you can do both, while treating one as frivolous fun and the other as something much more significant and timeless.