Wednesday, December 15, 2010

He doesn't exist!

I don't think I have ever believed in Father Christmas or Santa Claus or that stuff: for the most part I suspect children pretend to believe in the expectation that confirming their parents in the story somehow affects the outcome of the Christmas presents.
Telling children untruths perhaps convinces them that adults' words should always be subject to reason. That being said I have always avoided saying outright, "He doesn't exist!" out of fear of becoming the loonie vicar who is always quoted in the papers at this time of year.
In my bah humbugness I took some pleasure in reading this story about an Argentinian Archbishop who denounce Santa Claus as being a lackey of commercialism!
As a Catholic I appreciate that Santa Claus is a corruption of St Nicholas but then he is also a conglomeration of Odin, the Jack Froste, 19th Cent. Mummery, Holywood and the invention of a few New York ad agencies.
Though we do not want kindergartens of howling children complaining "Father has ruined my Christmas", I think we Catholics ought to avoid implicating ourselves in deliberately deceiving children, just incase they see the Incarnation as being equally untrue.

32 comments:

Mark said...

You could not be more miserable if you tried could you Father?

louella said...

I totally disagree. I may have been a singularly gullible child.....but I loved Santa Claus! To me he represented magic and mystery....and my favourite time of the year was Christmas morning and the delight of finding my presents from Santa. Not very religious I know....but I am now so that's good.

I remember every one of my presents....and toys weren't as plentiful or cheap as they are today....so Santa's Christmas presents were extra special. Yes I got hours of sheer delight with a little green disk full of squiggles that you drew in to create a perfectly beautiful parrot. Sorry but I loved Father Christmas with all my heart.

Daniella Jarvis said...

As a Catholic mother of 4, I agree with you Father.

I happily read my children "stories" even about Santa Claus but it is important that they realise they are that, "stories". Myths even modern ones, made up by the coca-cola company are not that helpful in bringing up children to always tell the truth.

In the past the objects of such myths might have been regarded as demonic. The "spirit" of commercialism which is what Santa Claus now represents is contrary to Christianity.

tubbs said...

Thank you Father Ebeneezer, I especially agree with you last point. On this side of the pond there is a tacky habit of placing a Santa Claus figure in the creche, adoring the ChristChild figure.
This silliness gives the atheists a hayday.

Janet said...

I can't agree with you Fr. Ray. Children are forced to grow up very quickly in today's world. They are not children for long and so, it is nice to have a little mystery in there lives, Santa Clause, the tooth fairy...a little magic does no harm to little ones.
The real world waiting for them is harsh enough.
You know Father if we are not careful we are going down a dangerous road on these blogs. Very soon if something isn't totally Catholic it will not be acceptable, that would be a very sad day indeed!

pelerin said...

Watch out Father - the Argus will be after you!

Paul Mallinder said...

BUT the story does transmit a truth - perhaps good will to ALL :)
P.S. What is Santa bringing you this year Father (if you are not in the naughty book)

antonia said...

I agree Father!

Mike Cliffson said...

I'm fed up with exonerating the evil deeds of Henry VIII and Oliver Cromwell ,liberticidal committers of mass murder and crimes against humanity anyway, with this internet myth that cocacola "invented" Santa.
Henery banned St nick's - you can google up a Protestant woman in Mary's time moaning about it coming back, later on the lord Protector's mob banned Xmas, see father's previous post, we got St nick, Xmas and epiphany back in a single bundle. The Americans can't bear to owe owt to Albion, baseball never descended from rounders,etc, just about the Lord created us but humanity owes the Us for everything from there on , sex included, so they say Santa comes from their Dutch in NY state, plus Conde something the 19th cent illustrator. They had men dressed as Santa in big stores in the States by 1890, and the coke ads may have coalesced the red colour, but that's it.
It may be good manners and very eucumanical talking to noncatholics to consign henry etc to the same reserved vocabulary as fart, bum, tits, etc., but it's another thing to accept invented history and make it our own, even about santa.
Commercialism is no excuse,it's like the OFF button on the telly.Where's the gun at our temples? The first Papal vist I understand tons of tacky Papal memorabilia went unsold.It's easier to deal with big business than big brother.
By happenstance in Spain we live what my Kiwi Godmother always supported: presis for kiddies at epiphany, 12th night, and quite right too.
BTW bring back epiphany on the 6th!
Bring back boy bishops on 6th Dec, and old ale for adolescents, and away with nocatholic small beer, eflensafety and the whole watered down way of coddled corn.

Anonymous said...

Janet, Louella--
You each correctly emphasize the importance of mystery and wonder. But doesn't that occur in spades in the lives of the saints, the sacraments, and the incarnation? Why not rejoice with your children in mysteries grounded in fact?

I'm with Father. I also remember when I was young and discovered Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny etc were false. I did feel betrayed--lied to--and wondered what else my parents were lying about.
Scott W

Laurence England said...

Amen. Let's make an effigy of Father Christmas and burn it!

Truth not Santa said...

I agree with you entirely Father.

Christmas should be about the Incarnation of Our Lord not about a secular bringer of material goods.

Why should children believe what their parents tell them about God the Father and His Saints, if they tell falsehoods about 'Father Christmas' and 'Santa Claus'?

Surely the mystery of Christmas provides wonder enough for a child without having to resort to Santa Claus?

Peter said...

St Nicholas is a genuine historic figure. He does his work through us adults. By giving him the credit we are able to give in secret. So when I put something on the parish church giving tree I am doing so as agent of St Nicholas who uses the nom de plume of Father Christmas.

That is the explanation I am planning to give my young daughter later in life. With luck she will not think that I lied to her.

Now Father if you were to classify your blog as an "adult" site for those aged 18 or over would the Argus defend you i wonder?

Simon Platt said...

I think you're quite right on this one, Father. As your headline intimates, we live in a world where men of ill will are keen to corrupt out children by telling them that our stories about Jesus are no more real than our stories about Father Christmas. And we must not fall into their trap. It's foolish to do so - and yet I know one priest who has himself dressed up as "Father Christmas" for children's parties in his parish.

dave said...

Henry didn't ban that. Cc gave St Claus his red tunic - didn't invent him.

Doodler said...

You'll be having a go at the Tooth Fairy soon and my grand-daughter will be very annoyed with you!

Crux Fidelis said...

I can't agree with you on this one, Father. When I worked out the truth about Santa Claus I didn't feel deceived or cheated and no one else I know does. And it didn't affect my faith either. It's a harmless bit of fun, that's all.

I often wonder if people who tell their kids that there is no Santa are trying to milk the maximum amount of gratitude from them.

louella said...

Anonymous....we do share the mysteries of the Faith etc...but for me Snta is part of Christmas,like the Christmas tree decorations cards etc.........and of course all these depend on the wonderful celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ...God Made Man.

I naturally came to disbelieve in Santa...and I never felt lied to by my parents. I knew instinctively they did it cos they loved me. Let's all lighten up.

georgem said...

He doesn't exist? Oh, yes he does, certainly until the age of reason. So enough of this Gradgrindian boo-hoo! (And it's worth re-reading the book to see where facts, facts, facts gets you.)
Sure, it's a disappointment to learn the truth, but it's hardly life changing, nor is the discovery that fairies don't leave money under your pillow in exchange for a milk tooth. It's an early lesson in life that there are disappointments and we must get over them. Strengthens the fibre and so on.
So I don't believe in Father Christmas any more; so I am still going to Mass; so my parents made sure I got my priorities right. That's all it takes. Plus a good formation at primary schools and always a Nativity play to get the message through. However, do we then tell children that some of the events surrounding the birth of Christ may not be quite accurate?
To imagine that the mere abolition of Father Christmas would lead to people in their millions focusing on the true reason for marking Christmas is just so much wishful thinking.
However, I'd be with you in condemning the gross sentimentality and over-spending.
I see no reason why children should not be encouraged to give up one of their presents from Father Christmas for a child who doesn't have any. That would be a good lesson in charity and a worthwhile tribute to St. Nicholas.

SPQRatae said...

I agree Santa Claus has been too 'culturally cleansed' and now represents nothing more than the sickly sweet, sticky, commercial vision of 'Xmas' peddled by Coca Cola and the like.
Perhaps the solution is to drag him back to his Catholic home? Certainly here in Belgium the 6/12 feast day of 'Sint Niklaas' is still very important, and remains the day that many children get their presents, even though the overly commercial 25/12 Santa Claus version is also recognised...

John Fitzpatrick said...

Oh I dont know Father. That dear old man with the beard is LOVELY.

Ma Tucker said...

St Nicholas does exist. Rather than seeing Santa as a corruption of St. Nicholas I see him as a reflection of him. Is it not the benevolence of St. Nicolas that he reminds us of? As regards children, it is very important that Christmas is surrounded in mystery because it is mysterious. Without the mystery of the incarnation we would have no St. Nicolas and no Santa. Helping children to view reality beyond the material seems sensible to me. Santa rewards the good and chastises the evil.

Why all the complaints about commercialism at Christmas. What's wrong with spending money, having a feast and exchanging gifts. Maybe we shouldn't be worshiping money so much that we fail to celebrate the incarnation. I know some people take no account of the incarnation but the vast majority do to a greater or lesser extent. I know certain commercial outlets use Christmas to gorge their greed. I say let them gorge because what they covet, mammom is not important in the scheme of things. Furthermore, their greed is a great bastion against those who would seek to erase Christmas from the human memory.

So ba humbug to you Fr. Eb. :)

Delia said...

I once knew someone from a fairly strict Protestant background who was received into the Church. His conversion had less impact than it might otherwise have done on some of his more sceptical Protestant friends given that they knew he continued to believe in Father Christmas until he was 16 - and this despite getting the top First in chemistry at Oxford!

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

I feel really sorry for you Fr Ray! Poor child that you must have been!I hope you haven't been damaged psychologically! All my children believed in Fr Christmas..oh & the Easter bunny!

Martial said...

I can't say I ever really believed either Father. I would think there would be a better way of incorporating Christian Catholic values in gift giving than deception. I agree with you. What is the problem with St Nicholas bringing the gifts?

Jonathan said...

Fantastic, I was very glad to read this post and I agree with you Father. We shouldn't tell lies, even if we think good will come of them. To my mind this clearly includes the lies about Father Christmas delivering presents to children. If I have children I won't be passing on this aspect of our 'culture'.
Don't let people shout you down with allegations of being miserable. What could be more miserable than being brought up to base your joy on material gifts?

Alex Hill said...

So who drinks the sherry and eats the mince pie then???????

I fear that there may bigger issues to worry to be honest!

Happy Christmas.

Terry Nelson said...

How very sad!

Poor Father Cromwell - I will pray for you in my Christmas novena. If you have an icon of St. Nicholas I hope it disintegrates before your eyes Christmas eve...

Even you! I'm so disappointed. St. John of the Cross was right -'esteem no man, the devil will only show you his faults.'

Such sadness!

Prayers and best wishes...

Terry

Fr Ray Blake said...

Terry,
No problem with St Nicholas ...it is that patron saint of conspicuous excess that encourages the breaking of the 9th & 10th commandment, the one that strikes out at any form of ascesis.

Anonymous said...

I think we should christianize or 're-christianize' Father Christmas. Coming from a good Catholic family, we had much fun as children looking forward to 'Santa Klaus' (Sinterklaas in Dutch - St. Nicholas). We were told that the presents we received on Christmas Day reminded us of the 'presents' which Jesus received from the Magi. We also went to Mass and had a crib at home. Fr. A.M.

Anonymous said...

PS. A very happy and a holy Christmas Father (and I hope that Santa Klaus is good to you this year - a new 'Missale Romanum'[1962] in your stocking perhaps ?).

Fr. A.M.

Terry Nelson said...

Dear Father - I have to get it through my head that my humor isn't always perceived well online. I'm just kidding - you are a good man - I just happen to love old fashioned Christmas with Father Christmas and other fun things. Forgive me for being disrespectful. Many prayers for you as usual.