[This was written for a column-writing class.]
Santa Claus is nothing but a fake in a big red suit. From his perch in his sleigh in front of the moon, he shouts, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!” But, much like a politician, Santa hides his true nature underneath the legend of his name and the themes of the Christmas season.
Let’s examine Santa’s operation. In seclusion from the outside world, he sits on a red velvet cushion overlooking his List. His somewhat mysterious elves, sometimes portrayed as young and sparkly and other times bearded and solely male, tirelessly toil in Santa’s workshop. We are supposed to believe that these elf creatures are a sort of species that gains energy by endlessly expending it. The more they work, the happier they are. What a perplexing view of slave labor.
The media portray Santa as a jolly old soul drinking Coca Cola and winking at children who spot him on Christmas Eve. He is fair and just in giving presents to the nice girls and boys and leaving a lump of coal for the naughty ones. But under what authority does he enter our homes and watch us while we sleep?
The thought of our government spying on us, even if for our own protection, is haunting enough. Why is the nation willing to stand for an old hermit peeking through our windows and rating our behavior? Under what moral code is he operating?
The truth is that the legend of Santa Claus has given Santa more power than is good for him. It can be assumed that the way in which he judges what is right and wrong is based on Western ideologies. This leaves out whole sections of the world that are full of “superstitious” indigenous people who sacrifice chickens and barely clothe themselves. By not bringing Christmas to them, Santa is saying that he has the godly power to judge what belief systems are nice and which are naughty.
But it doesn’t stop there. Even some eastern religions allow themselves to celebrate Christmas with a version of Santa Claus, if they are wealthy enough to do so. They can look culturally different than our Christmases, but this doesn’t matter to Santa. In fact, the wealthier his audience, the more gifts are given in his name and the more children believe that he exists. The legend of Santa Claus will live on, but the poor and powerless will know the truth by their lack of presents on Christmas day.
Santa seems to be motivated by nothing other than the power and celebrity of his name. He does not exist to be the personified expression of the generosity and joy that surround the Christmas season; he only exists for those who believe in him and those lucky enough to afford him. For the spirit of Christmas to reach all people, it is up to the rest of humanity to bring it to them. Overthrowing the egocentric version of our Christmas idol and donning a symbolic red coat could spread more goodwill than Santa ever did.