What is a "tiehacker"?

"Tiehacker" is a term originating in the Ozark hills of southern Missouri. It referred to a class of people from WAY back in the hills that made a living cutting trees into ties for the railroad. I first heard the term from my wife shortly after we married. I had been working outside all day and was dirty and stinky. She had learned it from her father, and thought it just meant "a bum". Never having heard it before, I looked it up. Although I am not really a bum, I thought it was interesting, and I do have a life-long love affair going with the Ozark hills, so ... there you have it!

Friday, December 4, 2015

I have serious problems with "Santa Claus" ...

pic downloaded from Google Images

OK. I'm going to get myself in trouble here, but that's OK. This is something that's been bothering me for many years. Because of it, my wife thinks that I'm a "Grinch". My daughter-in-law came close to banning me from seeing our young grandson for fear that I might say something and "spoil his Christmas". So I know from first-hand experience that this is NOT a popular viewpoint.

The problem is that I think it is wrong to teach very young, impressionable, and trusting children that Santa Claus is a real person that really lives at the North Pole and really flies all over the world in a sleigh pulled by magical reindeer in order to deliver presents to good children and pieces of coal to naughty children.

I don't really have a problem with telling children about Santa, as a form of fiction, like a fairy tale or the like. Kids can have fun with that kind of story telling, just like they would with Little Red Riding Hood or Snow White or The Little Mermaid or ... well, you catch my drift. My problem is teaching, and insisting, that the story is REAL, not fantasy/fiction.

There are numerous reasons that any person, religious or not, can understand even if, like most, they don't agree. First, it is an outright LIE, and lying is never good. Second, there is a strong potential for damaging the trust your child has in you, when (s)he finds out that you've been lying all those years. Third, once the truth comes out, it can cause issues with differentiating truth from falsehood. There are other reasons as well, that I'm not going to go into here. A quick Google search yielded many detailed article and essays on serious mainstream websites such as CNN, Business Insider, and Psychology Today that go into greater detail.

As a Christian, I have other reasons for concern about this fraud.

To begin with, there is a corollary to the trust issue. How many children after finding out that the Santa they had been taught was a real person really wasn't, have then, rather logically actually, taken the short step to believing that Jesus isn't real either? I don't have a solid number, but I personally know several people that have rejected Jesus as anything other than a myth because of being disillusioned about Santa. (And the Easter bunny, the Tooth Fairy, etc. But that's another post for another time.) If there are a handful among my comparatively tiny sample, how does that translate into the entire population? You do the math, as the saying goes.

The Santa myth completely overshadows the real reason that the holiday even exists in the first place. Christmas is about the physical birth of Jesus Christ. The second Person of the Triune God took on flesh and human nature. Yet today, after a casual look around almost any place in the country, you would think this is about trees decorated in such a way that the most fanatical druid would approve, about spending billions of dollars, and often going into debt, to buy buy buy and buy some more. You might think it's about cutesy little songs about jingling sleigh bells, or about a nutcracker that comes to life. And all of this happily supervised by a fat old guy in a red suit with white trim laughing "Ho! Ho! Ho!" all the time. You would find very little if anything about Jesus in the average family or school or community "holiday" celebration. And I have a problem with that. Anything that distracts from worshiping our glorious Savior is a problem, and you couldn't find a bigger distraction this side of hell itself.

Everyone is more than happy to proclaim the seasonal motto of "Peace on earth and goodwill towards men", and smile at strangers and give to charities. (Did you know that many charities receive the bulk of their annual donations during the month of December?)
What most don't know is that the phrase is from the Bible, specifically Luke 2:14. It was the angels proclaiming "Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men" as they announced the birth of the Savior of the world. The phrase has nothing to do with truces during a holiday and about everybody wishing everybody else well. No! It means that the Second Person of the Holy Trinity had come to earth, had taken on a human nature and human body, and was going to live a perfect and sinless life and then die as a ransom for many, and then be resurrected in power and glory. And because of that, peace would be possible between God and man. Not man and man, but God and man. And that goodwill between God and man would exist, not between man and man. It meant that God's white-hot wrath over sin would be spent punishing Jesus as my substitutionary sacrifice, and that Jesus would triumph over sin and death for me. Any "peace" and "goodwill" between men would be secondary.

The Bible is very clear in teaching that salvation is strictly by the merciful grace of God, completely on HIS terms, and is contingent upon complete faith and trust in Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. "Being good" doesn't get you into heaven! It might make your mommy smile and your daddy give you a nice pat on the head, and maybe even a gold star from your teacher, but it WON'T get you into heaven! And just as "being good" isn't going to count towards getting INTO heaven, being "naughty" doesn't count in keeping you OUT, either. Because EVERYONE is "naughty", aka "sinful". EVERYBODY!!! Teaching children that "being good" wins you gifts from some silly-looking supernatural super-being, and that being "naughty" wins you bad things, you are going exactly the opposite of the gospel message.

Christian parents, there is no way you can completely shield your child from being bombarded with the pagan, anti-Christian nonsense about "Santa" and all that entails. So it is incumbent upon you to make sure your child understands the truth from the very beginning. If you think it necessary, tell your child the stories. Read "The Night Before Christmas"  with them. Go see "The Nutcracker" ballet. Have fun driving around after dark to "Oooh!" and "Ahhh!" at the beautiful lights. By all means, have fun! Fun is good! BUT you must, I repeat MUST, make absolutely sure that your child knows that Jesus, and His birth, was a REAL event with REAL consequences, and that "Santa" is NOT real, but only a character in a story.

If you can succeed in doing this, you will be doing your child the biggest favor imaginable.

If, and there most likely will be, there is a negative reaction, or if you or your child is questioned about this, a simple answer should suffice. Something along the lines of, "Yeah, I know all about Santa! He's a funny storybook character."

Well, I'm tired of typing, and I'm sure you are tired of reading, so to everyone who as made it this far, Merry Christmas! from Ron and the Debster.

1 comment:

  1. Another perspective in the Santa debate: teaching discontentment and feelings of inferiority -- why does Santa give Joe down the street a brand new game system and a slew of games to go with it and I only got a toy truck? Or why don't children in poor countries (like Haiti) get gifts from Santa like the kids in America do?

    Life is complicated enough...