I can’t be the only mom on the planet that cringes at the Santa questions. I think most of us would agree that we hate lying to our kids. Perhaps it’s because we’re still recovering from the exposé of our own childhood when that sixth grader on the playground robbed us of our innocence by blabbing the "truth" about Santa Claus. Maybe some of you out there are really like me (I apologize) and even though you don’t like fibbing to your kids you also cherish the years you had falling asleep on Christmas eve waiting and wondering if Santa and those reindeer would really, truly come to your house and deliver those shiny new presents that seemed to be blanketed in a layer of fairy dust. We want that for our children, we really do, but the lies… the LIES!
Do you want to know I've discovered? We actually don’t have to lie. Let me explain.
You see, Christ himself taught in parables when he lived on the earth. So why not now? He’s not dead. He’s very much alive. So, doesn’t it make sense that he’s still teaching us today? And if he’s the same yesterday, today and tomorrow wouldn't it make sense that he’d teach us in parables now just like he did before? So the way I see it, Santa Claus, his reindeer, his kingdom up north, his midnight ride around the world, his gift giving, his naughty or nice list, his sled, his magic, his everything… is all a parable, and this parable is given to us by our Savior to provide us with a simple, child-like way to teach our children about the Savior himself.
Let’s start with Santa in the North Pole, making his list, checking it twice, finding out who is naughty or nice. If my theory is correct and if Christ himself has truly offered the story of Santa Claus to us as a parable, what is he trying to teach and who is Santa Claus a representation of? I think that Santa Claus is a representation of Christ himself. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, now a resurrected being, sits on his throne high in the heavens as the judge of Israel. He sees us when we’re sleeping, he knows when we’re a wake he knows if we’ve been good or bad and he pleads with us to be good for goodness sake (or in other words, for the sake of the good shepherd).
His red suit is another symbol of Christ. I know what you’re thinking. Santa’s suite turned red the minute Coca-Cola decided to use him as their money making mascot. But origins aside I believe things happen for a reason and I feel that this one is on purpose. The color red is very emblematic. Not only is it one of the dominate colors of Christmas it is one of the dominant colors of Christianity. Christ bled from every pore when suffering for our sins, he administered red wine to his apostles at the last supper and in the book of Revelations John tells us that Christ will come “clothed with a vesture dipped in blood” Revelation 19:13. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Santa Claus comes bearing gifts to all the world in his own vesture of crimson red.
Although Christ was actually born in the spring we celebrate Christmas in the dead of winter when a good portion of the world around us is iced over and failing to thrive. Sure this may have been a decision made hundreds of years ago to thwart off pagan celebrations but this is too symbolic to be tossed aside as a mere coincidence. Before Christ comes again the earth will be in its darkest state. Just when things won’t seem to be able to get any worse Christ will come as bright as the sun rising in the east. When all things in the earth are cold, dark and dying, He will come to redeem all mankind. He is the light in the darkness and he “cometh as a thief in the night.” 1 Thessalonians 5 (D&C 106:4) It makes sense then that Santa Claus, too, would steel through the night, in the coldest, darkest time of the year bringing joy to all who believe.
Isaiah tells us (66:15) that when Christ comes again the wind and the fire will collect around him in the manner of a chariot. A chariot in ancient times pulled by a team of horses might have looked something like this.
Coincidence, you might say. Blasphemy, you might even accuse. But –in my many hours of dwelling - I just can’t believe that these crucial comparisons are an accident. Can you?
The reindeer that so valiantly pull Santa’s sleigh, I believe, are symbolic of those ancient prophets and apostles who have come in the meridian of time to prepare the way of the Lord. Elijah, John the Baptist, Peter, James and John and several others have all been key in the ushering in of the Second Coming of our Savior. They come before the master and prepare the way of his coming just as those tiny reindeer do for Kris Kringle.
How does Santa deliver all of those presents to all of those kids in just one night? This is a question that every child has asked. And parents all over the globe usually answer with one word, “Magic.” But the same question might be asked by children and adults alike, “How does Christ know me personally? How does he know each of the billions of people who have lived on the earth by name? And even more importantly how is it possible that he suffered for each of our individual sins?” Is it magic? Well, no, but it is beyond our understanding. I won’t even try to answer this question because I have no idea but I know that God’s comprehension of time far surpasses ours and I feel that Santa and his “magical” ability to deliver gifts to all the world in so little time is symbolic of Christ suffering for the sins of the world during his time in Gethsemane. His suffering was for all and this gift, this sacrifice that he made was an individual ransom for our sins, our pains, our sufferings. It’s hard to wrap our mortal minds around how that is possible. But as children we learn to have faith in things that we don’t understand and as adults that faith is fueled by eternal truths.
Finally after a long, dark slumber children awake to the hope that Santa has left presents for them under the tree. We, as Christians, also have this hope. We hope for the gift of eternal life and happiness that can’t be imagined in this life time. We hope for a time when our sorrows, pains and both physical and mental ailments will be a distant memory and the gift of resurrection and a brilliant forever will be ours to have and hold. And as the children descend the staircase and peak around the corner, their hopes are realized. For in front of the fireplace lies a plate full of crumbs and under the tree are the gifts that were asked for each labeled by name. Christ too will come; he will bring gifts of an eternal nature that we can’t yet understand. But his gifts are personal. He knows us all. He knows our faith and our struggles. He knows the good and the bad. And he’s merciful to all who can only believe.
Of course there is a caveat. Because just like any gift from God that is handled by man, the parable of Santa can be twisted into something ungodly that would distract us from our belief in Christ. But if used properly and in the way Christ intended I believe the parable of Santa Claus can be an instrument in teaching our children about our relationship with our Redeemer. I think it’s natural that as Christian parents we grow concerned that if our Children find out we were “lying” to them about Santa they might also think we’re “lying” to them about Jesus. But Jesus isn’t a lie. He lives and he will come again and we can teach our children that Santa Claus is a symbol of the true and living Christ. And by so doing my hope is that as our children grow they will remember the lessons taught to them as children, they will remember the lessons of Santa Claus and they will have a more palpable and fortifying understanding of their relationship with our Savior.