Effect Measure

At least one correct answer to the question “What’s the difference between God and Santa Claus?” is “There is no God.” Some of you may object. What’s the evidence for Santa Claus, Mr. Big Shot Atheist!?

Just ask my daughter. OK, I admit she is now faithless. The scales have fallen from her eyes. She realizes there really isn’t a Santa Claus. The only excuse I can make for her is that she is exhibiting what most people would call age appropriate behavior. After all, she’s 30 and has two children of her own. But we believe the arrival of the little ones (the oldest isn’t 3 years old yet) will probably resurrect the non-existent (aka dead) Santa, a resurrection that maternal Grandma and Grandpa (aka Mr. and Mrs. Revere) will shamelessly aid and abet. Because in the Revere household, Santa has much more of a place of honor than God. You can ask Santa for something and have a good chance of getting it. You ask God for something and you get just the opposite and that comes in life’s equivalent of clamshell packaging. So it made sense that daughter dear was 13 before she lost her faith (in Santa), cruelly disillusioned by a Santa-less practitioner of some religion.

Let’s recognize upfront that, like any family centered holiday, there can be some excellent reasons to dread Christmas. For many people family holidays dredge up bad memories or the pain of good memories of times and people who are gone forever. It can be a crushingly lonely time of year. It is what it is and getting through the holiday season can be tough.

Having said that, why does this good atheist family cling to Santa and why is Christmas our favorite holiday? We explain this every year, because for reasons we don’t understand atheists aren’t supposed to like Christmas. But lots of us do. It’s not a Christian thing (I’m not nor have I ever been a member of the Christianist Party). We like Christmas for some of the very reasons so many people seem to hate it: it’s a great commercial and secular holiday that’s warm and pleasant at a dark time of year (that’s the idea, right?). We even like the commercialism. Sure it’s cynically designed to promote consumption. But encouraging people to buy things for their loved ones and friends to make them happy is not so bad. Even the religious folk can get in on the act. How can you not like a holiday whose main religious icon masquerades as The Prince of Peace? Sure it’s bogus. People routinely kill for The Prince of Peace. But a little willing suspension of disbelief doesn’t hurt one day a year. We can pretend that being The Prince of Peace is a good thing to be a prince of, right?

And the willing suspension of disbelief extends to Santa. Of course the idea that a fat man with a beard wearing a red suit can visit every child’s house in the world in a couple of hours and gain entrance by sliding down their chimney, eating some milk and cookies, dropping off some trinkets from a sack he carries over his shoulder and that comes down the chimney with him, all this just to make some kid happy and then going to the next house in a sleigh pulled by 12 8 reindeer, well, it is pretty silly. Almost as silly as thinking there’s an old guy in the sky that knows everything and can control anything — if he wanted to — but lets all sorts of horrible crap happen to people because he loves them — well, Santa’s not that silly. But pretty silly, still.

Silly or not, Santa is a wonder to lots of little ones, and now that Mrs. R. and I again have three little ones for whom Santa exists, we have faith too. Welcome back, Santa. We missed you. And we’re going to do our best to help you make those little guys happy.

And to all the rest of you, The Reveres wish you nothing but peace and comfort at this dark time, literally and figuratively. We wish it for you whether you believe in Santa or not. We are a very tolerant bunch.

Comments

  1. #1 Jeff D
    December 20, 2009

    Well, eight reindeer and not 12. Twelve would make for a larger carbon footprint for the mode of transport, in the form of more reindeer droppings and more methane, among other things.

  2. #2 Elf Eye
    December 20, 2009

    Nine if you count Rudolph.

  3. #3 revere
    December 20, 2009

    jeff D: You know, as I was typing that I was asking myself, “Is it 8 or 12?” but I didn’t check. It’s possible that it’s even less now, given the concern about fecal footprints. Santa might have downsized from an R8 to an R6 or even an R4. Of course that fecal emission decrease is probably offset by the increase in political fecal emissions. They use a zero sum brain system.

  4. #4 abc
    December 20, 2009

    If only there were a production of Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People in the US!

    http://blog.newhumanist.org.uk/2009/10/on-sale-now-nine-lessons-and-carols-for.html

  5. #5 BostonERDoc
    December 20, 2009

    Ah dont worry about the fecal emissions our GD govt. will feel guilty about it, Obama will again blame the US and apologize on some european stage and then commit another 30 Billion or so to the christmas deer shit fund. Then my grandchildren and yours can have a nice tax increase from 60 to 61% in Xmas 2035.

  6. #6 Divalent
    December 20, 2009

    wow, your daughter made it to age 13 before finding out? That’s gotta be a record.

  7. #7 revere
    December 20, 2009

    Divalent; It’s the power of Faith. And like her parents, she likes the idea of Santa Claus.

  8. #8 claudia
    December 20, 2009

    My seven-year-old son is a declared atheist (a difficult position in a very Catholic Northern Bavarian village). He fervently believes in both the “Christkind” (the German version of Santa) and Santa Claus. Being of mixed US/German descent, he gets to enjoy the mystery and delight of both. Asked why he believes in Santa and not in God, he answered: “Do you have any proof for God? But there is plenty of proof for Santa!” My husband and I have no intention whatsoever to discourage him.

    BTW, religious eduction is part of school here. When he mentioned he didn’t believe in God, the teacher answered – Well, then you can’t celebrate Christmas and you won’t get any presents. Luckily, he’s very open to reasonable arguments about the roots of the holiday…

  9. #9 pft
    December 20, 2009

    Funny how one of a persons earliest memories as a child is an adult conspiracy that lied to them about Santa Clause, along with the tooth fairy.

    The parents were victims of the conspiracy themselves, which was petpetuated by the MSM and enertainment industry, thus making them obligated to buy toys made in Japan, then Hong Kong and now China to sustain the myth and transfer wealth to Asia, and the banksters, who gladly gave them credit cards to make said purchases that some could not afford (before credit cards some stores allowed you to buy on credit). I mean, nobody wanted to tell the kids that Santa does not visit their house, there was pressure to buy, buy, buy beyond your means.

    And to make it worse, December 25 is the birthday of Mithras. Jesus was born in September (one estimate from the 1990’s was September 11). The Christian world was duped into celebrating a pagan holiday, which is also the same date that celebrated Horus. The common root is the ancient celebration of the return of the Sun God on Dec 25. Today we celebrate the birth date of the Son of God, or is it the Sun of God. And people say there is no such thing as conspiracies.

    Merry Mithras, or is it Happy Sun.

  10. #10 Joe
    December 21, 2009

    “…an old guy in the sky that knows everything and can control anything — if he wanted to…”

    I suppose you’ve heard all this before, but here’s a rather to-the-point response – http://patrickmead.net/tentpegs/?p=695.

    It’s not that He doesn’t want to, He can’t. He promised, and a promise can’t be broken. That would be problematic, now wouldn’t it?

  11. #11 Donna B.
    December 22, 2009

    I am grateful now that I never had to experience the ‘horror’ of learning there was no Santa and I’m even more grateful I managed to spare myself the horror of having my children find out I lied to them.

    That’s why a belief in Santa Claus differs from a belief in God. I’ve never met anyone who taught their children to believe in God when they themselves did not, though I’m sure such people exist somewhere.

  12. #12 dannybald
    December 22, 2009

    Jesus’ Bluff: “The Universal Scandal of the World” (M. Magnes)
    by Hans Atrott

    Price: $34.95 $29.95

    Product Details

    ISBN: 978-1-61582-816-6

    # Pages: 583 pages

    Dimensions: 6 x 9

    Format: Softcover

    Product Description
    Jesus is a cripple (blind in one eye, limping and dwarfish). He did not die on the cross, but gulled Judas Iscariot into dying on the cross in place of him. He laughed up his sleeve at the crucified one. The “official” part of Judas Iscariot as the purported “betrayer” escorting the troops to the delinquent also was screened by another double: Simon of Cyrene. At least two times more he escaped from the death penalty by a stuntman.

    Since the verdict of death penalty still was pending on him, he contrived the legend of “Saul ” and “Paul ” under which he secretly lived, while supposedly in heaven. He is the fomenter of the conflagration on Rome in the year 64 as “Last Judgement,” “Doomsday ” or “Armageddon ” he “predicted” for the lifetime of his generation. Who says that he is a wrong prophet…?

  13. #13 Shane
    December 25, 2009

    Joe that is some funny s#%t you crack me up.
    The difference for me us I have no problem playing along with the Santa myth because if the spirit it upholds, nit quiet the same as the biggoted line if rubbish the othe myth delivers.

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