"Christ"mas or "Santa"mas
It's your birthday and you're excited. You're expecting to hear from family and friends. You want to hear how much they love you and value you. In your generosity, you are throwing a party at your favorite restaurant. Everything is set for a great time. The guests arrive, and they are ecstatic to see you. Hugs flow incessantly. The food is great. Soon, you begin to get a strange feeling. You notice that conversation shifts away from you. The guests wish you "Happy Birthday" and move onto talk about themselves. They are talking about the fun coming to the party, the stores from where they bought gifts, and the great mood they find themselves in. They are telling you every detail of coming to your party. The cards and gifts have someone else's picture and words of appreciation. At the end of the day, instead of feeling encouraged and loved, you feel discouraged and rejected.
I wonder if a similar thing happens during the Christmas season. Instead of Christ being the focus of conversation, Santa becomes the center. We teach our children that Santa will bring gifts at night and leave them under the tree when we know that is untrue. Saint Nicholas, from whom we get Santa Claus, was a saint who lived in the third century. He was the Bishop of Myra and was known for his generosity in giving gifts to those in need. He did all of his gift giving in secret and sought no attention. The early European settlers in the New World (Caribbean Islands, Gulf of Mexico, South and North America) brought memories of Saint Nicholas, the gift giver. The journey from a generous saint to a red suit, white beard Santa is a classic example of how strongly a culture can create myths.
In the Gospel story, we read about the Wise Men who brought their gifts and met baby Jesus with his mother, Mary and father, Joseph. They opened their gifts to him, baby Jesus. He is the only one worthy to receive all attention, focus, glory, honor, and worship. He is also the only one who can see our tears and wipe them away, look at our loneliness and offer His companionship, feel our rejection and love us to our satisfaction. This holiday season, let's refocus our attention to our Savior and make it "Christ"mas and not "Santa"mas.