The Santa Clause myth and the less commercial origins of Saint Nicholas’s story attempt to teach our children many valuable lessons.
- Don’t be on the naughty list (or you get coal in your stocking)
- Be generous because Santa Claus is (he gives every good boy or girl a Christmas present)
Many parents encourage the Santa Clause myth to their children and try to separate Santa Clause from commercialized figure he now is. We want our children to learn these lessons, and frankly, it is just easier to tell our children to behave because Santa Claus is watching than to actually teach them to behave. As parents we are aware of the danger solely depending on manipulating our children to behave with the threat of Santa Claus bringing them coal. We are also aware of the danger of our children viewing a Christmas wish list as a demand list.
There is, however, another aspect about Santa Claus we as parents often don’t realize we need to address. It can be the most damaging lesson our children learn from this myth. The myth of Santa teaches that every good boy or girl in the whole world gets a gift from Santa. Not only do they get a gift, but they get the gift for which they wished. This is a dangerous lesson because here is the reality:
- Nearly 1/2 of the world’s population — more than 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty, that’s less than $1.25 a day.
- 1 billion children worldwide are living in poverty.
- According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty.
- 870 million people worldwide do not have enough food to eat.
- More than 1 billion people lack adequate access to clean drinking water and an estimated 400 million of these are children.
- In 2011, 165 million children under the age 5 were stunted (reduced rate of growth and development) due to chronic malnutrition.
I just copied and pasted those statics and that action alone brought me to tears. I have vivid memories printed on my mind of children in the garbage dump. I’ve been in their “homes”. I’ve seen what they eat. I know that these children have no reason to believe in Santa Clause. Why is it that we hide this reality from our children? It is hard for our children to learn to be generous if they think that all the children in the world have their needs taken care of by a mythical character.
I know that these children have no reason to believe in Santa Clause. Why is it that we hide this reality from our children?
When a child, teenager, or adult realizes the true extent of the need in this broken world, the lesson of generosity is learned instantly. I’ve experienced it myself and witnessed it in the lives of many individuals and families that come and serve on a team with Inca Link. The mission experience of serving on a short-term team for the first time rocks teenagers’ worlds! Why? Because until you see people who are truly in extreme need, that need cannot be understood, especially with the belief that every good boy and girl gets their wishes met at Christmas by Santa Claus.
The truth is, Santa Claus is real! He is a symbol for generosity derived from Saint Nicholas’s efforts to help those in need. That spirit lives on. The world is full of generous people. Let’s help our children become one of them.
This holiday season make a difference in children’s lives by providing a pair of shoes!
Consider coming to serve on a team. Bring your family as a team. Are you in a small group? Have them come. Experience short-term missions and impact a community!