A couple weekends ago our priest gave a sermon that included a reflection on the lyrics of the seasonal song he likes the least: “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” He doesn’t have a problem with the concept of Santa, who of course was inspired by Saint Nicholas, but he does find some verses of the well-known song to be rather misleading. “He’s making a list and checking it twice; He’s gonna find out who’s naughty and nice…
He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake.
He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness’ sake.
Oh, you better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout, I’m telling you why…”
Upon closer examination, this seemingly inane song sounds rather creepy. Do we really want kids thinking that some stalker Santa is watching their every move? Does it make sense to make a bigger deal over having our kids go sit on some stranger’s lap and tell him what we want for Christmas than to marvel at the circumstances and love implied by Christ’s birth? Yikes, let’s hope not!
An article titled “The Flawed Theology of Naughty and Nice Lists,” by Amy Henry is an interesting look at the role of Santa, God, and children’s behavior, reflect what parents teach and how kids perceive things.
Interestingly enough, I spent many years thinking of God as more of a harsh judge or stalker Santa making a list of everything I did wrong. I’m grateful that our God is a just God, but also the One who is love and mercy itself. If someone’s going to watch my every move, then I’d prefer it be someone who loves me unconditionally.