So apparently some folks have taken issue with my stance on the Santa thing. Honestly, all this talk about how Santa is at the heart of everything wrong with Christmas is kind of like saying it's the Jazz Bear's fault that the Utah Jazz are playing terribly this year.
Instead of making some indignant rant about who is right and who is wrong, I will just say this, and let it suffice for all. Everything has a place in this world. The good things, the bad things, the happy things, the sorrowful things, the serious and the whimsical. It is solely up to you what you want to believe and what you don't. That is to say, after a manner of speaking, that you are in control of the things you allow into your world, or the things you will reject. Likewise, it is up to you as to what you determine is "best" for you and your family. If you feel like Santa is distracting from the birth of the Christ child, then make some traditions to keep during the season that help bring back the focus for you. Do spend time with your loved ones near and far. Do read your scriptures. Do listen to worthy music. Do give of yourself, your time, talents, and material possessions to those in need. Don't go on some self-righteous tirade against an elf who awards good boys and girls with gifts every Christmas Eve night according to century-or-more-long traditions.
As I have said before, you have a choice. You can choose to see the good in everything, or be critical of everything. That being said, I choose not to believe that Santa has ruined Christmas, or that he poses any kind of a threat on the psyche of children nor the sanctity of the holiday. (Incidentally, I don't know that I have ever known anyone irreparably traumatized and permanently disillusioned by the "truth" about Santa Claus that led them to question their faith in God).
You have a choice. Where some might look at a Christmas tree and see nothing but festive ornaments, gaudy lights, and overbearing showmanship on an overpriced piece of plastic, I can choose to look at a Christmas tree and see symbols of the "light of the world", of "life everlasting", of the star that guided the wise men of tradition to the Christ child. It seems to me that if you can't find Christ in Christmas, you simply aren't looking hard enough. I'll bet that with an eye of faith, you can find all kinds of things in all kinds of places that will guide you back to the manger in Bethlehem, even in a busy shopping mall.
You know, let's be real here. If anyone is indeed guilty of "ruining Christmas", it's us. After all, aren't we the ones who continue to ravenously consume all the glitter and glitz this time of year? Aren't we the ones who voted with our wallets on moving Black Friday from its designated day to the day before? Who or what is really more deserving of criticism? A symbol of wonder and happiness for children across the world? Or our own greedy and selfish tendencies?
Then again, I am not naive. I write this fully knowing that it will fall largely on deaf ears. Given that, I will end by quoting Ebenezer Scrooge: "You keep Christmas in your way, and I'll keep it in mine." That being said, in my Christmas, there is room for everything about Christmas that reminds me of the importance of giving; not only of material things but of myself. There is certainly one prominent figure in my heart during this time of year, but there is also room for a jolly old Saint (a role which I have been quite happy to play thus far).
And really, I'd much rather have my children sit on the lap of a man impersonating Santa at the mall than a man impersonating the Savior. Wouldn't you?