Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Why Santa Claus Gets on My Nerves

The Christmas commercials are starting to air on television, and I love the jingle-jangle, the bright reds and greens, and the happiness that abounds in them. What can I say? I love Christmas!


Santa Claus Vector
Photo by vectorportal

But only a few days into this most delightful season, and I realize Santa Claus gets on my nerves.

Call it a case of the Charlie Brown Christmas. I don't know. All I know is there's a Hallmark commercial with Santa opening a mail chute. Out pours tons and tons of letters. On the top is a red envelope. He opens it.

And a child's voice starts saying, "I want..."

I cringed.

I guess that's the problem for me. Santa Claus is all about "I want." Kids learn that this happy man exists only to fulfill their wishes--once a year. Yes, tell Santa what you want.

Christmas, to me, is about saying "thank you, Jesus," not, "I want..."

Knowing we have a magnificent God who loves us and calls us His dear children, who stands by us in every trouble, who cheers our every success, who wipes our tears, gives us courage, who blesses us beyond our wildest imaginations, and, who--get this, sent HIS SON to live a perfect life, die as atonement for our sins, and rise afterward to heaven so we can share eternal life with Him--well, I'll take rejoicing in the real reason for Christmas over a shabby list of wants any day.

The magic genie aspect of Santa Claus bothers me. It's an unwelcome distraction from the natural gratitude so abundant this time of year for Christians.

So there's my Christmas rant. I'm putting on my Christmas CD's and letting my heart blossom with the reason for the season.

Does the self-centeredness of "I want" in secular Christmas messages get on your nerves too? Or am I just being a major Grinch?

Have a fantastic Wednesday!

40 comments:

  1. You nailed it, Jill. We have a radio station that started playing Christmas music a day or so after Halloween.

    Christmas has gotten so commercialized. I love the season and the music and the excitement, too, but it's sad to see Jesus shuffled to the corner.

    Great thoughts!

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    1. I love all the hoopla too, Cindy, but I do not like that Santa has all but replaced the baby Jesus! Come on!!

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  2. I cringe each time I see Santa in the manager scene, typically he's kneeling next to baby Jesus, but really??? Yeah. That one gets me.

    I do LOVE LOVE LOVE Christmas though.Music, lights, family, traditions...love it all!

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    1. I love the traditions too. It's a special time of year--a time we should enjoy. I'm just sad so many people celebrate it without really knowing what it's all about. :(

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  3. I never believed in Santa as a child. My parents taught me that Santa was just a nice story about the spirit of christmas (because he gives). So our christmas focused on Christ and our family.

    To me - my dad was always Santa. Which gave a whole new meaning to the song "I saw mommy kissing Santa" :)

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    1. Aww, love that your dad was Santa in your eyes. How sweet! We grew up focusing on Bethlehem--and I'm very thankful for it. :)

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  4. Part of me feels like I'm a Grinch about Santa ("It's part of the fun! It's only once a year!"), but each year that my kids grow older, Santa does get on my nerves more and more. We don't even make that big a deal out of him (I'm honestly not sure my kids could even tell you who Santa Claus is if you asked them right now - a few more weeks, and they'd remember, but not yet), but I am growing to dislike more and more the undercurrent of selfishness and greed that runs through traditional Christmases.

    However! I do know of some families who are able to turn the Santa Claus myth into an illustration of grace - receiving something we did not earn, for no other reason than love (because we can never be good enough throughout the year to get on Santa's "nice" list) - so I suppose one can "redeem" almost anything with enough effort.

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    1. I tried not to make a big deal about it. If my kids asked me about Santa, I would ALWAYS ask them, "Why do we celebrate Christmas?" and they would reply, "It's Jesus birthday." I found it became a moot point. I don't mind using our imaginations, but I never wanted my kids to be confused about what's real and what's a fun story. :)

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  5. I'm a grinch. Too much focus put on gifts and not the act of giving of yourself.

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    1. Good point, CJ. When we were young, all my mom's sisters would come over for one day to make special cookies. We'd split them up afterward. On Christmas Eve, we'd rotate hosting a huge family party. I was surrounded by generosity, and it still warms my heart. :)

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  6. Beautifully said, Jill.

    And getting what the child wants can be such a horrendous pressure on the parents.

    Santa is all about the money...and selling.

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    1. Yes, Loree. And what about the children who don't want a store-bought gift? How do you explain Santa couldn't get them a kitten or their Dad home for Christmas...

      I wish all children knew about God. They would understand they're loved even when they don't get exactly what they want.

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  7. I'm not sure Santa bothers me as much as "Happy Holidays". I'm celebrating Christmas. Please let me wish you a "Merry Christmas" and wish the same for me.

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  8. And here my kid asked me the other day if Santa drinks beer...so she wanted to know something about him. ;-)

    Excellent point, Jill. This parenting thing is much harder then getting them dressed and sending them out the door. We're fighting so many messages every single day.

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    1. Ha! How did you respond? "Santa drinks Coke, my love." :) Parenting IS hard, but I think we're led to choices that are right for our family. :)

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  9. I agree with you. When the kids were little they weren't allowed to say the "P" word in December (present), because I didn't want to concentrate on the getting things aspect. Yes, they get presents (too many if you ask me from their grandparents), but I also wish society would emphasize why this holiday is here. Not just the THINGS. It also angers me that stores open at midnight on Black Friday. This means that Thanksgiving is compromised if you work in retail. A day to be thankful for what you have, but the next day is about getting more.
    But complaints aside, holidays are wonderful because it is a time for family to come together.

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    1. I like that idea, Kelly. It's always good to remind our kids (and ourselves) why we're celebrating.

      Some stores are actually opening ON Thanksgiving now. When does it end??

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  10. You are not being a Grinch. There is too much, 'I want' in churches and our prayers and not enough, 'what do You want, Lord?' or, 'How can I serve my neighbor?' Our society, especially the Church has become very narcissistic.

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    1. Guilty! Too often my own prayers address my wants and not God's. Thanks for the reminder. :)

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  11. I totally get it...but it's interesting to look at the origin of Santa. I kind of like the focus on him as a gift giver, if we remind ourselves and children that the reason we give gifts is to symbolize the greatest gift of all. But you're totally right on that Santa has become so commercialized and all about that magic genie aspect. I don't think it means we have to flush the idea of Santa altogether; we just need to refocus it for our individual families.

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    1. Good point, Lindsay. I've always felt God gives us our children for a reason--to raise them in our own unique way. Some families encourage the Santa aspect. Others refuse it. I think it comes down to what's best for you. :)

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  12. We don't make a big deal about Santa in our house. We don't ban him, but we also try not to focus on him. My little guy is four--so it's difficult to know exactly what is going through his little mind. We just try to lead by example and pray God will protect his sweet heart.

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    1. Great attitude, Julie! God WILL protect his sweet heart!

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  13. We minimized Santa Claus when our daughter was little. She got one present from Santa. The rest were from us. I wanted her to know her daddy was the one who worked hard and provided for us. If memory serves me, she never once wrote a letter to Santa.

    She'll be 22 this coming New Year's Day, and what she remembers best about Christmas is going to the Candlelight Christmas Eve service and spending a leisurely time with Gwynly and me opening presents we carefully picked out for one another. Oh, and she loves my deviled eggs, which I only make at Thanksgiving and Christmas. :-)

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    1. This just warms my heart, Keli. I, too, have wonderful memories of church and Christmas services. :) And deviled eggs are always high on my list!

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  14. I don't think you're being a Grinch at all. We never did the Santa Claus thing around here because we wanted Christmas to be about Jesus, family, and giving.

    Right this second, my kids are chatting via FB about the shopping trip they intend to take to buy Christmas presents together when the elder one gets home from college. :)

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    1. Aww, love it! That's so sweet! I'll bet you can't wait to have them all under your roof again!

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  15. I was just having this conversation with my husband last night. I love giving my kids things, but hate xmas shopping because it's all about manufactured needs. I'd much rather spend a quality day looking at things with my daughter and buy her one thing she loves then dump a bunch of things under the tree. And if that's not bad enough we celebrate Hannukah too...bad, bad rookie mommy move!

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    1. Ha! Ha! Hey, we all make decisions we later think, "hmm...shot myself in the foot on that one!" Ha! Love your attitude!

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  16. Jill, I also feel we can go overboard in the overly commercial aspects of the holidays in general, though certainly Christmas gets the most obvious boost of intensity. For Better or Worse.

    That said, I think how you grew up can play a part here, too. While I didn't have a really tragic childhood, when you live with the sobering reality of living with a mentally ill parent, no friends your own age, and forced to be your own "best friend" much of the year, and as silly as it sounds to some, Santa was one of those things I could escape into during late November to December 25th.

    Also, I didn't really wish for that many things at Christmas, sure there was that specific toy or game I wanted every year, sometimes I got it, sometimes I didn't, or had to wait for my birthday, but much of what I wanted were things you couldn't buy. More fun times with my grandmother, having a special meal, etc.

    When I was a kid, between 4-6, I knew about the birth of Jesus and all that, but I didn't "get it" until I was older, around 10, and it's funny (interesting, not comedic!)Jill mentioned Charlie Brown some where in this conversation.

    I was 8 or 9 when I first saw A Charlie Brown Christmas on VHS (This was the pre-DVD/Blu-ray era, 21st Century Kids), and I still remember the scene before the climax where Linus recites a biblical passage, and as a kid who was FAR from understanding many aspects of the Christian life I'd been raised in, in that moment, if only for a moment, I "got it," but I wouldn't retain it until my teen years.

    It also shocked me you could be that deep and serious in a cartoon, yet not be overly somber, and certainly for the time it first aired (Before even my mother was born), it was near unheard of to even mention religion of any kind, in such a direct way.

    But I think we need to remember we all grow different in our faith. Some learn early, others take more time, as I did.

    As a teenager, I did better grasp the true meaning of Christmas, and while I'm personally still working out my ideas about faith and spirituality (I don't do well with STRICT definitions in this regard)

    But I also think there's a way to have both, and give significance to the birth of Christ, but have fun with the mythology, too.

    While I know it's not to the same extent or extreme, Easter also has a similar identity crisis, because it really is about Christ's rebirth, but yet we also have the whole Easter Bunny thing.

    That said, while I'm progressive in many aspects of my life and interests, holidays in general are where I'm the most unabashedly
    old-fashioned.

    I still think of a jolly man who gives gifts to children across the world on a magic sled, and all kids have to do is live as good an sincere a life as possible, and share a few cookies with.

    I'm 25 now, and I still believe in Santa Claus, or at the very least, what Santa in his purest form represents to me. Charity and bringing joy and thoughtfulness to others in our own way.

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    1. What a wonderful way to look at this, Taurean. The purest form of Santa is lovely and not steeped in this spend, spend, spend society.

      Charlie Brown Christmas is such a terrific cartoon. I had a record and book of it when I was a child, and I would listen to it over and over. I don't think a cartoon like that could be made and aired on network television in our current times, but I'm so thankful it still airs. I hope it blesses other kids who might "get it" someday when they're older too. :)

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    2. Well, you're probably right about the network thing, but thankfully now there are other ways just as (If not MORE effective) than network television to share many types of opinions.

      Television channels outside the "BIG 3 legacy networks of Old" like HBO, Current and OWN have picked up some of the slack. What the legacy 3 won't air, they often will.

      As far as the annoying Santa ads, I agree we focus a lot on spending, but I do think in the early years of the recession, we got some relief, now that things are better (At least compared to 2008 at this time) the ads pushing people to buy go up. Also, I can understand the push up to a point, even the biggest brick and mortar retail outlets (Except Wal-Mart) struggle to compete with Amazon and online sales in general, and as someone who orders a lot online (NOT just for price, but necessity for being a non-driver in the car-relent world that is Detroit) I can see both sides of the coin here. It's annoying, but also perhaps a sign that we're not going to tank again in the near future, and given the massive debt we as a country already owe, that at least helps from making an already tense situation any worse, provided there are no more "surprises" that shake up the economy in not-so-joyous ways.

      That said, getting back on topic, some of the older holiday ads (Pre-2005, on average) are cute and mildly amusing, at best, and the worst I just try to tune out, I at least think the M&M's Santa commercial was funny, because one they don't "milk it" and it's over quickly, something in an era where the worst commercials can last 1-2 minutes, especially online, that's when it often goes too far.

      That said, no annoying Santa ad this year could eclipse the trauma-inducing political ads the U.S. was beaten down with until last week. If this is a warm-up to the nightmare of the 2016 election political ads, I seriously might consider cutting the cable cord, JUST for that year until we know who the next president is, just to lessen the sightings of the polarizing ads, those of you from Ohio who saw the most of it, you have my deepest condolences. I can't stop the internet ads, but I can chose to limit the TV ads by cutting cable, and doing my own curated news-gathering. If nothing else, this election helped me set the groundwork for that if I have to do so.

      I know you touched on that in an earlier post in October, and I agree that I'm grateful to live in a part of the world where we at least TRY to live a democracy, not a dictatorship, where "Change and Equality" isn't always dirty turn of phrase (Loaded, but not dirty, in the general sense) as it can seem to a lot of non-democratic countries.

      Remember that 4 year old girl from the YouTube video who was CRYING about her mother's obsession with the election the last weeks before Nov. 6?

      I too was close to crying, and I'm over three times her age, and this was my second election since being old enough to vote!

      The one good thing from this election overall for me was seeing so much voter turnout, I feel bad for the long lines and lack of management/resources, but people at least got why voting's so important, whether that holds true for 2016 remains to be seen, but it was so nice that overall voter turnout was at record highs for the first time in what FEELS like centuries, but was only a few decades back.

      I'm also so proud of us "Under 30" voters bucking tradition of being the Least valued demographic represented at the polls. Candidates of 2016, be advised, under 30/Non parent and underemployed voters MATTER, and you'll be hearing MORE from us, not less. (Okay, off my political soapbox now)

      It's WAY easier to take commercials with a grain of salt than the agents and editors we writers try so hard to connect with, compared to that agony, a few annoying holiday ads can't compare.

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  17. So true Jill. And I know I am guilty of asking my kids, my grandchild, 'what do you want for Christmas?' Instead I could ask, 'how can we give to each other this Christmas like Jesus who gave His life for us?'

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    1. Oh, good thoughts here. I'm the same. I'm taking your advice!

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  18. Completely agree with you, Jill! I've always been somewhat anti-Santa. I mean, we're spending more time trying to convince our kids that Santa is real than talking about how JESUS is real. I have a feeling Jesus would be rolling over in His manger. (Is that sacrilegious to say?)

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  19. You are so on the ball. I couldn't agree with you more. I love the music and the lights most of all and the wonderful Bethlehem story that starts the greatest life of all.

    You aren't a Grinch. You just have the right Christmas spirit.

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  20. It troubles me when people go to great lengths to prove that Santa Claus is real. When kids discover Santa is a nice story people tell their kids, they wonder if Jesus is make believe too.

    It's a parent/child trust issue.

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