This post will not be popular among those who teach their children that Santa is real.
I don't believe in lying to children. I believe that when we teach our children that something is a fact, we should either know or believe it to be true. Yet, there is an entire industry, probably several, built upon lying to children.
One of the largest lies that these industries are built around surfaces this time of year, often beginning in September.
Parents teach their children about an all-knowing god who lives in a remote area, but graces mortality with his presence once a year. Ostensibly, only the good receive his gifts (when I was a child, it was pretty obvious that the wealthy children, who were the most evil by the way, got the most gifts). Once in a while, a child may catch a glimpse of him at night, if a parent chooses to dress up while putting out presents. Of course, there are street corner Santas and department store Santas.
This god is a glutton. He dresses in garish red. He frightens children not old enough to understand that he is a god. He is allowed into houses of worship that profess to worship the one true God, and Him only.
Children who don't believe in this god are sometimes told by other children's parents that the reason the unbelieving child doesn't have Santa come is because they don't believe. Think of what this does to the child who doesn't get gifts from "Santa" only because their family is too poor to buy into the lie. Of course, we now have many kind people who give poor people gifts which then can be used to teach the lie about Santa, if so desired. Luckily, it can also be used to teach the truth that people have a kind streak.
There are movies whose main drive is to "prove" there is a Santa. I've watched them and I used to enjoy them. This year, however, I found them stupid, with gaping holes in logic and plot.
Can I stress enough what God has said about worshiping false gods, about idol worship? Could this be one of the things God has against even His own church? The fact that hundreds or thousands of LDS people would be up in arms about this post, verbally attacking me, defending their idol worship in the most definite (even angry) terms is proof enough that this false god has a deep hold on many hearts that claim to worship the one true God and Him only.
Parents go to great lengths to perpetuate the lie, to bring their children into the worship of Santa Claus. There is even a painting of the false red god kneeling next to baby Jesus, as if marrying the truth and the lie somehow makes the lie a truth – or at least okay.
Did I teach my children the lies that false gods are real? I did not. They have always been taught that Santa, the Easter bunny (it lays colored eggs for Pete’s sake!), and the tooth fairy are stories. Did that make their Christmases miserable? It did not. In fact, they had great fun taking turns being "Santa" each Christmas, though the youngest (the brother) got fired from the job after insisting on getting presents for himself instead of everyone two times in a row (each child's turn came around every third year – this tradition stopped last year; possibly the year before).
Did my mother teach her children the lies that these false gods are real? She did not. Did it make our Christmases miserable? It did not. Because Mom did not teach lies as truth, I believed her fanciful story that angels and God visited Joseph Smith. I never outgrew it. I never outgrew the fanciful story of our spirits living after we die. I never outgrew the fanciful story that there is such a thing as an all-powerful, all-knowing God who is involved in our lives.
Is it really that painful to consider the idea that we might be offending God when we teach children that the fat man in the red suit is just as powerful and all-knowing as He is? Is it really that painful to realize that we may be engaging in genuine, bona-fide idol worship/having another god before God? If we aren't, why are so many people enraged and/or threatened by the idea that belief in Santa just might be one of the things leading us and our children carefully away from God and salvation.
"Jesus is the reason for the season." "Let's put Christ back in Christmas." Pretty catchy, eh? Well, technically, Christ's birth and the winter solstice holiday were not originally one day. They weren't even in the same season. December 25th is when the days begin to grow longer.
If one believes in the Book of Mormon like I do, and if one believes the evidence that Jesus was crucified and resurrected in the spring, then the time of Christ's birth becomes more plain. Jesus died a few days after he turned 34 years old1, thus He was born in the spring. Since our calendar and the Jewish calendar go around the years differently (my understanding is that theirs goes by the moon's cycles), to say that every April 6th is Jesus birthday cannot be correct.
Also, if we were really celebrating the Lord's birth, we would not be teaching our children greed. We would not be giving each other presents. We would not be worshiping a fat man who gives gifts to the wealthy, while pretending only the "good" get the gifts. We would not be decorating our homes and yards with pagan decorations. (I have a friend who is pretty much pagan, but at least she is up front about it, and not pretending to be Christian.) We would speak of Christ's birth. We would speak of His atonement, of His sacrifice, of His resurrection. We would speak of His return. We would do serious soul-searching to see how we can improve so that we can be worthy to a) live in His kingdom and b) see His face in this life. We would understand that worthiness comes through the atonement, through the fact that Jesus satisfied the demands of justice in our behalf. We would repent. Our sermons would be on the great and divine mission He was sent here to perform. We would dwell on what we can do to take advantage of that great gift of love.
1And it came to pass that there was no darkness in all that night, but it was as light as though it was mid-day. And it came to pass that the sun did rise in the morning again, according to its proper order; and they knew that it was the day that the Lord should be born, because of the sign which had been given. Book of Mormon 3 Ne 1:19
And nine years had passed away from the time when the sign was given, which was spoken of by the prophets, that Christ should come into the world. Now the Nephites began to reckon their time from this period when the sign was given, or from the coming of Christ; therefore, nine years had passed away. Book of Mormon 3 Ne 2:7-8
And now it came to pass, if there was no mistake made by this man in the reckoning of our time, the thirty and third year had passed away; And the people began to look with great earnestness for the sign which had been given by the prophet Samuel, the Lamanite, yea, for the time that there should be darkness for the space of three days over the face of the land. Book of Mormon 3 Nephi 7:2-3
And it came to pass in the thirty and fourth year, in the first month, on the fourth day of the month, there arose a great storm, such an one as never had been known in all the land. [The storm marked the death of Christ – it was the sign given to them of His death.] Book of Mormon 3 Nephi 8:5