The legend of Santa Claus isn’t one ballyhooed around to hijack the true meaning of Christmas. Instead, Kris Kringle is a symbol, a reminder of our shared humanity and God’s goodness in this temporary home.
For me, Santa never took anything from Jesus. The joy of giving and the wonder of imagination, two things impressed upon us by our creator, are only amplified by the mystical luminary.
I grew up in a home where we celebrated the tangible, immovable truth of Scripture — the humble yet glorious coming of Jesus Christ — alongside the whimsical tales of a jolly gift giver gleefully laboring away 364 days a year, promising to transform into reality the abstract wishes of hopeful little dreamers around the globe.
For that, I am very grateful.
As a little boy, my God-ordained imagination flourished with every technicolor vision my mind could concoct, and now, as a 26-year-old adult, I see the lessons of Santa Claus come to life every holiday season, when the world slows down and we truly, if only for a moment, notice one another.
We don’t all agree on religion or politics, but deep down — sometimes in the untouched recesses of our cluttered minds — we know right from wrong and good from evil.
Santa Claus, to many, feels like neutral ground in this temporary home. We should use all the wonder and mystery our minds can muster to bring neighbors not just to common ground but to the only true level ground in the universe: the foot of the cross.
The real Santa Claus, based on the Greek bishop St. Nicholas, is from the fourth century. Much like the mighty modern tale of the beloved Christmas character, the true St. Nicholas was a force to be reckoned with.
In his day, St. Nicholas endured intense persecution for his Christian faith, yet he didn’t falter. He stayed true to his convictions and was known for his scrappy commitment to defending the church in a time when Christians were forced to publicly denounce their trust in Jesus or face certain execution.
It’s that spirit of giving and sacrificing — a selfless commitment to the flourishing of something beyond one’s self — Santa Claus has come to represent.
The spirit of Santa Claus, the cherished Greek saint transformed into the fantastical man dressed in red, is an earthly personification of the joy, peace and humility given to us by the heavenly savior.
The legend of Santa Claus is only possible because of the echoes and reflections of God’s glorious image in this temporary home. The cheery North Pole native — complete with his snowy white beard — doesn’t steal from the holy celebration of Jesus’ birth; he’s a portrait of all we can be because of God’s son.
Jesus — and him alone — is the reason we celebrate at Christmas. As for Santa Claus, he’s a simple, while inadequate, reminder of just a small token of all the goodness worth celebrating.