Friday, December 20, 2013

Who are Santa and Jesus?

I was brought up on the myth of Santa. We called him Father Christmas in my house. It cost my parents dearly.

I see that a clerge has got in trouble for suggesting, gently, to a school in Chippenham, that Father Christmas is not real. It seems that this is the one story parents want to be in control of. It is not true but they do not want anyone else to bust it for them.

I can't remember when I rumbled it. I was a bit suspicious that he seemed to be in other places than Rackhams Department Store, Birmingham where I was told the true Father Christmas and his helper, Mr Holly, resided. The one in the other store (Lewis's) is not real, I was assured.

A formative experience was a party with my friend Malcolm Green at which he announced we were going to work out the identity of Santa. When Santa appeared we noted, in the way only obnoxious, middle-class seven year old detectives can, that he had a brown watch strap and three buttons on his jacket sleeve. I don't think I knew how we were going to put this information to use but, when Santa had finished distributions and left, a man came back into the room and everyone said 'Oh Dave (or whatever he was called) you missed Santa.' Dave had a brown watch strap and three buttons on his cuffs. Rumbled.

As parents ourselves we decided that truth was an important value for our children so we told them it. We also suggested that they don't spoil the experience for other children. I am not aware of problems.

Why did the myth cost my parents money? Well, at some point my sister and I realised that everyone except our parents was buying us a gift. So we began to make lists with two big presents on it. One from Father Christmas and one from Mummy and Daddy. Worked.

I am reading a lovely book about the origins of Jesus at the moment, Andrew Lincoln's 'Born of a Virgin?' It shows us even more glory, if that were possible, in the theology of Jesus' birth. It concludes with the highest possible idea, '...the still astonishing and life-changing truth claim that in the fully human life of Jesus of Nazareth, son of Joseph and Mary, and for the sake of humanity and the world God became incarnate.' Sub-title is 'Reconceiving Jesus in the Bible, tradition and theology.' In the text the origins of the stories of the virginal conception are gently picked apart.

Of course a clerge might get into more trouble for debunking Santa than Jesus. Funny that. But I assume the National Secular Society are as vehement about removing Santa from school as any other things they might call unsubstantiated myths.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So refreshing to hear we weren't the only ones that didn't want our children believing in Santa and down played him, telling our children the truth the minute they asked. I am labelled as mean and bah humbug by many but have no regrets. We, like you, told our children not to spoil it for others but I'm amazing at the extent some parents take the myth. Debbie K