I took my two children to a school fayre yesterday. The wanted to see Santa Claus. He asked them what they wanted for Christmas and then asked me if they had been good enough to deserve their desired Christmas gifts. Of course I said yes, what else could I say in that situation, but I couldn’t help but think that yet another white lie was being drummed in to my 5 year old and 2 year old children. Namely, that we only get what we deserve.
Surely the whole message of Christmas is that Jesus, the son of God, became a human child and went on to become a man that would die in order that we would get what what we didn’t deserve – a relationship with a living God. If Jesus had asked God, “Well have they been good enough for the first Christmas gift?” I’m certain of the answer…
And it’s the little lies around Christmas that I dislike the most – because they disguise themselves as something that feels good and right, like only giving presents to children who’ve been good. Like singing about the colour of the nose of a mythological character that led him to be an outcast. Only for his acceptance to depend on him doing something worthwhile – again, his worth was in what he did, not who he was, poor Rudolph.
A few days to be tolerant and kind towards your extended family, so you don’t have to make quite such an effort for the rest of the year. A few weeks to think about the poor and homeless and give to charity, to absolve oneself from year-round compassion. A few days for me to work out what on earth Jesus has got to do with Christmas trees, Christmas cards, turkey, sprouts, mulled wine, mince pies, Christmas crackers, Santa Claus, commercialism, materialism, indulgence. If this is life in all it’s fullness then I’ve got it all wrong.
So I just smile weakly and bear it. Bear it for the sake of the little ones and hope that their little souls and mine don’t get crushed by the enormity of the Christmas monster. That one day they’ll forgive their parents for letting them believe in Santa Claus (and the tooth fairy). And I hope that on every day of the year I remember that the greatest gift of life that I have received was not dependent on how good I was and that I can show my children they are loved for who they are and not what they do.