Years ago I had an opportunity to share that point of view with a Christian friend who asked whether she ought to withhold a special gift from her teenage son because he'd been a stinker all month. I advised her to think about the message she'd be sending: I will show you my love only if you are good. If God took that attitude toward us, I told my friend, we'd never make it to heaven.
But back to Santa Claus. The Coulter family always pretty much ignored the bearded fat guy in the red suit. We never cared if other families liked to pretend about him, but he was nobody to us, except as an occasional joke ("There's no tag on this present. Is it from Santa Claus?") and the subject of a darling poem, Clement Moore's "A Visit from St. Nicholas," which I read to my boys every Christmas. But we never interfered with the Christmas traditions of other families. The boys were very good about that, never mouthing off to their little friends about how "stupid" it was to believe in Santa. One by one, the other kids figured out all by themselves that Santa was only pretend.
Too bad substitute teacher Theresa Farrisi, who was left in charge of a public-school music class just before Christmas, believes it's her job as an educator to correct children whose parents have taught them to play the Santa game. This is from the Lebanon (Pennsylvania) Daily News (thanks to World Magazine Blog for the link):
One of [substitute teacher Theresa Farrisi's] assignments was to read Clement C. Moore’s famous poem, “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” to a first-grade class at Lickdale Elementary School.
“The poem has great literary value, but it goes against my conscience to teach something which I know to be false to children, who are impressionable,” said Farrisi, 43, of Myerstown. “It’s a story. I taught it as a story. There’s no real person called Santa Claus living at the North Pole.”
Farrisi doesn’t believe in Santa Claus, and she doesn’t think anyone else should, either. She made her feelings clear to the classroom full of 6- and 7-year-olds, some of whom went home crying.
Read the entire article to learn what some of the distressed children went home and reported to their parents.
This lady didn't have to "teach" the poem at all. She was just asked to read it as a story. Would she have taken such pains to explain to the students that Thomas the Tank Engine and Winnie the Pooh aren't real? Somehow I doubt it.
Ms. Farrisi had an obvious agenda (see her letter to the editor of the Lebanon Daily News), and she shoved it on those kids--and their families--in a way that I, a conservative, evangelical Christian who has never promoted the Santa myth, can only deplore as grossly insensitive. I can well imagine how livid some of those kids' parents must have been.
It's hardly any wonder that so much of the world despises evangelical Christians. Sometimes I don't like us very much, either.