“How is Santa at so many places at once? We saw him at the mall, but then he was in the toy store, too… and he didn’t look the same.”
“Those are Santa’s helpers. You tell them what you want, and then they go and tell the real Santa at the North Pole.”
“Why didn’t my Elf on the Shelf move last night?”
“He really likes that spot. He decided to just come right back to it!”
“How can Santa’s sleigh fly?”
“It’s a special magic. And probably some really amazing technology.”
There are all kinds of opinions about if and how to “do” Santa with children. But when we decide to pretend Santa is real, it usually involves making up stuff on the spot when children start asking about the parts that don’t add up.
What troubles me is that it sounds similar to the way we answer questions (from children and adults alike) about God. For some reason, we think we have to an answer for everything. So, from the offhand remark to the densely complex theological system, we make stuff up.
“I prayed really hard that my friend’s mom wouldn’t die. Why didn’t God listen and save her?”
“God had a better plan.”
“I keep reading my Bible and praying, but I have found no relief for my situation.”
“There must still be sin in your heart that you aren’t confessing.”
“We’re both Christians, we read all the right books, followed all of the steps, and stayed pure until marriage. How can my wife now want a divorce?”
“Maybe she’s not really a Christian. Maybe you missed something.”
“When and how will Jesus come back?”
[insert any theological system with it all figured based on an ancient text by an unknown author]
We are afraid of not having an answer. We are afraid of saying, “I don’t know.” We want it all clear-cut and comfortable, and we want to make it that way for others, too. Heaven forbid we doubt or lead others to do so! But if we believe that Jesus is real and that his identity is of crucial importance to all Creation… then we need to be ready to accept uncertainty and the reality of doubt. Shouldn’t the way we discuss Jesus be markedly different than how we discuss Santa?