Like every other resident of the United Kingdom I shop at Tesco. Well, there may be three or four individuals, possibly on the farthest flung outposts of the Western Isles who don’t shop there yet, but I’m sure Tesco have their beady eye on them. And on a recent visit to Tesco, Oliver picked up…
…but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start from the beginning.
Being small can be terrifying when you stop to think about it. There are so many things out there to get you. The lion from the zoo; the big bad wolf; giants; things that go “bump” in the night; and Santa.
Oh, yes there’s no getting around it. For all that it’s very nice of him to bring gift-wrapped elf-made electronics, Santa is a pretty scary prospect. Not only is he into mass breaking-and-entering with a level of skill that not even mummy and daddy can stop him. He is also watching you.
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!
That’s right. When you sneaked a kick at your sister under the table, Santa was watching. When you took a second biscuit and said it was your first, Santa was watching. When you used daddy’s tie in one of your “experiments” that didn’t quite go as planned, Santa was watching.
Getting away with it
With all of this going on in a billion homes throughout the world, it’s little short of a miracle that Santa even bothers to brush the snow off his sleigh and make the trip every Christmas eve.
Disney does offer one suggestion for the canny child, as followers of Huey, Louie and Dewey will know. But since this involves storming Santa’s workshop to add your name to his list by force, it is probably outside the means of most normal children.
The issue was highlighted on on that visit to Tesco that I mentioned. Oliver picked up a pre-written “letter from Santa” which seemed to be aimed at reassuring children they would be getting presents. And even the corporate giants at Tesco seem to have realised the problem. Their letter says “Even though some days it has been difficult to be good, I see that you have tried very very hard!”. But I think it’s fairly instinctive that ”trying very very hard” just doesn’t cut the mustard.
So this leaves us to try to fathom an alternative way of getting our misdeeds under Santa’s radar, and enjoy the other side of him: the kindly old man who wants the best for everyone.
If only we could trick Santa into watching someone else.
The Father vs Father Christmas
We often find God portrayed a little like Santa. And I don’t just mean the improbably bushy beard. I mean spying on us to find out whether we have been bad or good, and handing out punishments or rewards accordingly.
But it’s not as if you could storm God’s workshop and add your name to his “approved list”. And “trying very very hard” doesn’t make any more sense with God than it does with Santa.
And how could you ever hope to get him to watch someone else?
Actually, come to think of it, we can do exactly that. Because that is precisely what Christmas is about. Yes, the little baby in a manger was born to show a better way to live. Yes, he was born to be a great teacher. But more than anything, he was born for us to take the credit in God’s eyes for his perfect life.
Because God doesn’t just require “being good”. He requires perfection. But the first gift of Christmas is that he doesn’t require it from us. He already has it, from the dribbling snotty baby in the hay. Which leaves us free to revel in a relationship with him, free from the baggage of whether or not we’re good enough. That’s the beginning…
Empty boxes on the floor,
Of things I never asked you for…
(Jars of Clay)
So, while you might need to scam Santa, God is another story altogether. And God’s track record on getting stuck down chimneys is rather better too!
© 2012 Paul Brownnutt
Being God’s Toddler by Paul Brownnutt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.