As the author of the Christian fiction novel, Elephant in the Room, I would like to introduce you to one of my favorite minor characters: Nick Saint, a professional Santa Claus. As I was developing the book’s theme of gluttony, the familiar plump character came to my mind. I imagined what would happen to the real man behind the legendary belly if he lost weight. I also wondered how I could express my strong opinions about this cultural icon in a loving way to encourage Christians to purposefully address truth in their own families. Below is a brief excerpt from my book Elephant in the Room, available from Dove Christian Publishers in Spring 2017.
After dinner, Samuel timidly approached Nick Saint, which was an unusual posture for Samuel to take since he had known Nick all his life from church. While it was not a surprise to see a man who looked like Santa Claus sitting in the congregation, its novelty had still not worn off for Samuel. Especially now since he had a few burning questions for Nick.
“Mr. Saint, I have a proposition for you,” Samuel finally said.
“What’s the deal, Samuel?” Nick responded curiously.
“I will let you pull my hair if you will let me tug on your beard. Not too hard, though. I promise.”
Nick was surprised by the request but thought it was reasonable, so he settled himself in one of the comfortable recliners in the Harveys’ den and prepared himself. Samuel grabbed a small fistful of Nick’s beard and gave it a gentle tug. He was surprised to feel how thick it was, as well as how soft. And of course, it was firmly attached to Nick’s chin.
“I thought it would feel more wiry,” Samuel observed.
“I try to keep it conditioned. That way my face doesn’t feel itchy all the time to me, and my wife will still kiss me!” Nick joked. Rather than pulling Samuel’s hair pursuant to the deal, Nick playfully ruffled Samuel’s head to mess up his hair instead. “So why did you want to pull my beard, Samuel?” Nick noticed that Hannah had been observing the proceedings from the doorway.
“I didn’t hurt you, did I? Good. I didn’t do it to cause you pain. I’m sure you get kids sitting on your lap pulling your beard just to be mean.” Nick chuckled at this true statement. Samuel continued, “I wanted to pull your beard because I was curious. You are a real man, and I see you at church worshiping God like a real Christian, but you look like this make-believe character from the world.”
“That’s a great observation, Samuel. And that’s something I have thought about ever since I became a Christian. I believe that the heart of Christmas is the opportunity to proclaim the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who became a man so that He could save His people from their sin. So, you are probably wondering how I can participate in the world’s presentation of the character of Santa Claus which often distracts from the true focus of Christmas, right?” Samuel nodded, and Hannah came over to listen closely to the response.
“First, I strongly believe that it is wrong for parents to lie to their children about who Santa Claus is. The ninth commandment tells us that lying is a sin. I know from raising our children that, at a very young age, they could tell the difference between real and make-believe. We wanted to always tell our daughters the truth about everything so that they would trust us as honest, wise counsel throughout their lives. And that trust had to start at a very young age. The biggest issue of all was to be clear to always present Jesus Christ as a real person in history and eternity, with all His teaching, miracles, and powers, as well as the special details of His birth, His death, and His resurrection.
“We also told our children the truth about Santa Claus, that Santa is a make-believe character from a fictional story. That’s really not too hard for any child to understand. It was probably easier for them to understand since it was their regular ol’ dad who lived with them every day but only dressed up as Santa in December. Knowing that Santa is make-believe does not take the fun out of dressing up and giving presents and talking about Santa. My girls have dressed up and enjoyed some of the opportunities that I have had to show love and kindness to a variety of people in a variety of circumstances. Besides the personal appearances I make for money, I voluntarily take toys to orphans. I also visit widows and other elderly people who don’t get many visits in their retirement home. At any age, people’s faces light up to see Santa, even though they all know perfectly well that I’m a regular guy dressed up like a make-believe character. And I have had many opportunities to present the gospel of Jesus Christ while wearing my Santa costume!”
If you are thinking about how to talk to your children about Santa Claus, then please read my blog post Let’s Talk about Santa Claus. If you would like to read more about Nick Saint and the Harvey family, then please sign up for my newsletter for updates on the release date for my book, Elephant in the Room.
Did you ever pull Santa’s beard? What do you tell your children about Santa Claus? Have you been given any unusual opportunities to tell others about Jesus Christ? Reply to this post and tell us about it!