Thursday, December 24, 2009
The Santa "Clause"
As a kiddo, I remember that music was a big part of our Christmas rituals. Though we were not necessarily a very religious family, our home recognized that this night was set apart as a time of worship and praise for the miracle of God coming to earth as a baby. We celebrated Christ’s Mass as most everyone else I knew did, with trimmed tree, wrapped presents, great food, snow, mistletoe, a church visit and SANTA.
One of the songs that was indelibly seared into my memory was “Santa Clause is coming to Town” Remember that old favorite?: “You better watch out, you better not cry you better not pout I’m telling you why…Santa Clause is coming town. He’s makin’ a list and checkin’ it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty and nice…Santa Clause is coming town.” You’ve got the idea. This song usually put the proverbial fear of God into me. Threats, fear, conditions, don’t cry, don’t pout, don’t shout….for crying out loud, don’t even move! And fear was an adequate motivator for this little Spartan. My folks would use this tactic frequently starting about mid-November . “Remember, Christmas is coming.” I was a devotee of the contracted agreement: I behave, I do good things and I stay out of hot water, and voila…I get STUFF. Alas: The Santa “Clause”.
I suppose this psychology works well if you can be intimidated. And who better to intimidate than little kids! This bodes well for parents who need to get a little bit of mileage out of their slackened parenting skills. As a young parent, those words “Or else” could be used in restaurants, grocery stores, gramma’s house, church or just about anyplace that required a instant compliance. And then there was the issue of the lump of coal in the stocking. Need I say more?
This year, a few lucky friends received my humorous Christmas Card. (You know who you are). It is the adorable picture of little Johnny poised on Santa’s lap, penitently enlisting Santa’s ear for the yearly rundown of goodness or badness. The word bubble quips.....Define “good”.
Isn’t it ironic how we must first learn to do good. The Santa “Clause” starts to lose credibility around age 10 or so. We figure that even if we’ve been a little bad, Santa still comes through for us. We learned last year that little Emily down the street still scored that magnificent 10 speed bike even after she lathered the pet cocker spaniel in strawberry yogurt. As a matter of fact, my personal survey told me that not a single lump of coal was issued in the year 1972. You get my drift?
There is a gray area in our conscience formation if we are "Santa-as-sleigh-driver" believers turned Christ-Adorers. Where does this happen? Where do we cross the line? Somewhere between mistletoe and egg-nog? I think not. More sensibly, it is probably somewhere between pain and needfulness. And that, my friends, can come at any age or any season.
I don’t need rooty toot toots or rummy tum tums, curly head dolls that toddle and coo, elephants or boats or kiddy cars. I need a savior. I am a sinner. God made me good, but sometimes I’m downright BAD. I know what I deserve and it is something very much akin to a lump of coal. But no, the Amazing, Adorable, Lord of the Universe bestows upon me, a poor sinner, something unfathomable; something eons better than any kid in girl or boyland’s jubilee could fancy: An eternal endless day of joy, bliss and glory in the Presence of the One who loves me without condition, strings attached or threats of punishment. He loves me just because I am.
So the Santa “Clause” is a good earthy beginning perhaps, but it is only that. It is a manifestation of a gimmick in the world of toddlerdom that is meant to teach us that good things come to those who do good things. As an adult, we somehow appetize ourselves with the notion that if we do good, we’ll get heaven, but I think at our core, we realize that we need a lot more than what our deeds can buy. We need a personal savior. In fact, we want a personal savior. This want rests at the bosom of every human soul. His name is Holy One, Prince of Peace, Lord of Lords, The Alpha and the Omega. He really exists. He was born in a stable in Bethlehem to two very real people. He was their little “Yeshua”. He can be yours too – you need just ask.
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night, when Christ was born.
There is no other place I’d rather be on this night than on my knees, thanking our adorable Lord.