We begin with, “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth.” This one gets us back to the basics. No need for all those toys and goodies from Santa. Just…two teeth. And why? So this sweet child can wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Oh…and he’ll be able to say, “Sister Susie sitting on a thistle!” Let’s all try that. Thank goodness for modest requests.
“Santa Baby,” the Santa song for adults, has been around since 1953! Eartha Kitt made it a hit. This girl really has her list working. A sable under the tree, a ’54 convertible, a yacht, and the deed to a platinum mine! Touching. And one can easily tell she’s been missing out on a lot of fun dates just trying to be good enough to get stuff. Wonder if St. Nicholas likes the term, Santa Baby? Well, maybe from Mrs. Claus.
In the classic, “Jolly Old St. Nicholas,” again we’re back to basics. “Johnny wants a pair of skates, Susie wants a sled. Nellie wants a picture book, yellow, blue and red.” The song’s conclusion leaves a mature thought: “Choose for me, dear Santa Claus, what you think is best.” This chap might be surprised by what St. Nick considered important.
My final Santa selection is the famous, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” This one deserves a close theological review. As we would learn here, Santa is BIG on performance.
We are told not to pout or cry with Santa coming to town. He’s got some kind of list that he apparently checks twice to determine if we’ve been naughty or nice. And since he’s aware of our sleeping habits and our secret lives, we’d better watch out! Kids who do behave will have a jubilee building some kind of toyland “all around the Christmas tree.” Pretty exciting stuff.
Apart from Santa songs, there is a plethora of other meaningless rhymes set to music that distracts us from the idea that a Savior for the world was once born. Of course, the Jesus of whom we are told never asked us to celebrate His birthday. We decided to do that.
And then along comes old St. Nick. Or more properly said, Saint Nicholas. William Bennett gave us a beautiful history of this legendary figure in his 2009 book, The True Saint Nicholas: Why He Matters to Christmas. The real figure was a Greek bishop. History says he lived from 270 to 346 AD. This is recommended reading for all.
A shorter course on the jolly soul can be found at a St. Nicholas center website. Here we learn what many hold to be true about why we consider him so “saintly.” Check this: “His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus’s words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.” http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/who-is-st-nicholas/
Checking closely on these details of St.Nick’s life, we find no evidence of keeping lists. Or checking them twice. And I hope I don’t disappoint anyone by saying there also appears to be a lack of evidence that he owned reindeer. Or moved north from Greece or Turkey. I mean, why would you?
We are a performance driven people. We prefer to check off lists of things we believe we’ve done right. In Jesus’s time, a very rich young man approached Jesus and said, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” (And that’s only a partial list of do-goods.)
So the rich guy says, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.” (Mark 10:17-22)
Here’s the thing. St. Nicholas got it. The reason Santa can belly laugh in joy with “Ho, Ho, Ho!” is because the weight of materialism and sinless performance is gone. And that’s because of Jesus.
One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is teaching Godly contentment. (1 Timothy 6:6-10). Another is the gift of sharing. And most importantly, is to pass along the gift of good news that leads to eternal life.
What’s on your list to become right with God? There should only be one thing. It begins with “J.”
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