Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

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Boxing Day musings

Feasting on Christmas Day has a long and noble tradition and one is at risk of being branded a heretic if he suggests it might not be necessary.

Noble in that first sentence is meant to be taken literally – for many centuries it was only the nobility and the rich who could afford to feast on Christmas Day, or any other day.

Many years ago it became the custom in England for rich families to give their servants a day off on the day after Christmas. They had served their masters on Christmas day, now it was their turn to go home to their families and celebrate. They didn’t go empty handed. They were given boxes with gifts, a little money and some of the food that was left from the Christmas day feast.  Thus was born the tradition of Boxing Day.

Boxing Day is a statutory holiday in Canada, but alas, it is no longer a day of giving. Rather it is a day when merchants put all their left over Christmas stock on sale at deep discounts. This means that everyone gets the day off except store employees. This is their busiest day of the year.

Sunday morning our minister in his message pointed out many of the things that most people believe about the birth of Jesus that are not found in the Bible. It’s about time. These things are being pointed out in newspaper and magazine articles and we’re getting to a situation where non-Christians know more about the facts of Jesus’ birth than Christians do.

My parents told me that my gifts on Christmas morning came from Santa Claus. It was almost 70 years ago, but I still remember how I felt when they told me that Santa Claus did not exist. My first thought was “What other lies have they been telling me?”

What do we have left when we strip away all the fanciful stories that have been added to the account of Jesus’ birth (why not just call them lies)? We have the account of the miraculous birth of the only begotten Son of God, coming into a fallen world to make a way for our redemption. And that is everything.

My parents lied to me

I don’t recall how it was taught, but right from my very earliest memories of Christmas I knew that most of my gifts came from Santa Claus.  Of course there were other gifts from family members, but the most important ones came from Santa Claus.

We lived in a rural area,  there were no malls or mall Santas.  We did most of our shopping from the mail order catalogues.  But Santa showed up at Christmas concerts to distribute gifts from his sack and he snuck into homes in the night before Christmas to deliver more gifts.

Then my parents told me that Santa Claus didn’t exist.  It was all just a story to amuse children.  I was shocked.  That meant that my parents had been lying to me all along about Santa.  What else had they been telling me that was just a story to fool little children?

I got over the shock and eventually I got over the suspicion, too.  My parents were actually straight arrow honest people.  But as I grew older, I resolved that I would never lie to my own children about things like Santa Claus.

Nowadays, when I stroll through a mall and observe a screaming tot being deposited on the lap of the mall Santa so the parents can have a cute photo, I wonder if the Santa story wasn’t always more for the amusement of the parents than for the children.

Maybe the Santa Claus myth is just a harmless fantasy, but still I don’t really think so.  It’s just another of the barnacles that has attached itself to the celebration of Jesus’ birth to distract our attention from the main character.

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