Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas or Santamas?

It's coming to that time of the year again. Presents, family get togethers (in some cases), holidays, and calculating your finances.

As we wander through the various shopping centres we are faced with endless enticements. We hear Jingle Bells and a collection of other Santamas songs. If we are lucky we may even hear some Christmas ones included. We see big images of Santa and, if you are like me, you recognise atheisms hand in the loss of Christmas. Movies and cartoons on television further indoctrinate children to see Christmas as Santamas.

I remember when young, people telling me that Christmas is about giving. They said it is better to give than to receive. Yet to me this wasn't how I felt. Mind you I wasn't too impressed when aunties gave me socks, handkercheifs or underwear. But as my mother was a single parent (my parents having split and divorced when I was one) she was glad to save some money on those items.

I never really found the joy in giving instead of receiving at Christmas until I went on my mission in December. No presents had come but I was out serving others. Suddenly I felt the good feeling that comes from service without expecting something.

The concept of Santa is the idea that some guy is just going to give you something you don't really deserve. The focus isn't on going out and doing this to others. It is on the concept of just receiving something. This is opposite to what Christ taught of giving of yourself to others, and wanting nothing in return.

The sorts of things that would really make a true Christmas would be to look forward to acts of service on this day, to remember that Christ came (among other things) to give of himself.

I'd like to wish everyone a happy Christmas time. Think on the poor and lonely. And if you help them out your Christmas will be so much the better.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Doug,

My wife and I wanted to teach our children these very same things at Christmas time when our oldest was 14 and the youngest was 4. We would make homemade chocolates and other goodies then put them on paper plates and wrapped in clear plastic with a Christ centered Christmas card. Our children would place the gift on the doorstep of some of the families in our ward and ring the doorbell. Then the child who placed it there would quickly hide behind the homeowner's car or a car parked at the curb so the family who received the gift would not know who left the gift. Once our child knew the family had gone inside, our child would run down the street to our van parked in the dark and away we would go to the next house. We were trying to teach our children that it is important to go out of our way to bless others, but that it is more important to go that much more out of their way to be anonymous in giving. This way they would not be seeking the honors of men but experience the pure joy of giving from a pure heart as the Savior taught.

Doug Towers said...

Anonymous

Sounds like fun. And a great idea for spiritual growth.

Let's hope the experience stays with them as a positive lesson.

Anthony E. Larson said...

You know, the Christmas traditions of Santa, the decorated Christmas tree, the gift giving, etc. are as old as mankind. The mid-winter solstice was celebrated in most ancient cultures. Romans called it Saturnalia; Greeks called it Kronia. It was Catholicism that appropriated or hijacked this most ancient tradition and inserted Christ into those mid-winter celebrations in order to give their pagan converts a connection to Jesus. Christian traditions, therefore, are the late comers to this scenario. The reason you and other Mormons and Christians decry the Christmas tradition is because you don't understand its origins and meaning. If you did, you'd appreciate it as equally important as remembering the Savior's birth. For someone whose blog title is "deep doctrine," you have a rather "shallow" concept of this very important tradition. My monograph entitled "Temple Symbols and Christmas" on both my blog and Scribd might help you come up to speed on what Christmas truly represents.

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Doug Towers said...

Anthony

I have read these opinions before. I'm not disagreeing with you that perhaps this is how Christmas got rolling. But it has been for us a celebration of the birth of Christ in our society.

I can't agree with you that believing in a guy who comes down the chimney once a year and gives presents to kids no matter how bad or good they are, relates to the concept of a loving brother who suffered enormously to perfect me.

Christmas day to me represents an opportunity to help others to think about Jesus Christ for once in their lives. Hopefully they will benefit from the experience.

Have a great Christmas.

Vendo said...

I can understand the LDS (and Christian in general) mentality of wanting to maintain Christ as the center focus for Christmas, however, I don't have such a grim view of "Santamas". For what it's worth, the story of "Santa Claus" does NOT involve kids getting what they want for nothing. He has a naughty/nice list, and generally kids are taught that you have to be nice in order to earn Santa's gifts. What's so bad about that? No, the Santa story may not compare to the story of Jesus Christ, but why belittle it? It's better than nothing...and for non-Christians or atheists, the Jesus story is nothing. I'd rather have the Santa thing here to stay - any less inspiration in the world for men to do good deeds could be catastrophic at this point.

-V

Doug Towers said...

Vendo

A reasonable argument.

In regard the kids and good vs evil it seemed to me that those who continue to do evil aren't penalized by Santa. I think both they and those kids who try to do good at that time see this. This is what I was referring to.

But on the side of your argument this negative situation may not always occur. If it worked for you then who am I to stop you trying with your kids or relitives.

It is true that my post is really aimed at those who accept the idea of Jesus Christ being a real person and someone to follow.