Santa & the Perpetuation of Privilege

****Disclaimer: If you celebrate Santa this is NOT a personal attack on you but it is a request to spend some time in prayer and consider a different viewpoint. I don’t want you to think about YOUR family and how Santa works with YOU I want you to think about society as a whole and the big picture narrative he perpetuates. You are likely able to defend how YOUR family does Santa but can you defend the big idea? When you really read what i’m saying, you truly think honestly and objectively, (checking the white hot rage you feel because I dare question such a fun tradition), can you say this is a good, healthy thing we should keep doing? Let’s find out?****

How do you explain to a child the need for Toys for Tots, Angel Trees, Operation Christmas Child, etc ad nauseam in a world where you also perpetuate the notion of Santa? Why should they want to give gifts to bad kids? Because if those kids were good Santa would bring them gifts. In fact Santa gives many middle and upper class children extremely extravagant gifts like trips to Disney or trampolines or video game systems so the poor kids that get socks or a drug store toy were probably also kind of bad. OBVIOUSLY they deserve less or Santa would have given them big ticket gifts like all the well to do children (who also tend to be white so not only is this classist, it’s a bit racist).

Without meaning to middle and upper class Americans have spent decades unintentionally telling their children that poor people are bad. Poor people need charity because they don’t deserve nice things (or Santa would give them nice things!) but we will pity them and give them things anyway since they can’t help being bad, it’s out of their control. There is simply no way to sugar coat the fact that Santa actually encourages children to see economic disparity as a deserved label and equate comfortable/rich with good and struggling/poor with bad.

I know, I know Santa has become his own religion and some of you are clutching your elf on the shelf, ready to stab my eyes out with peppermint sticks but before you do…ask yourself why you have so much devotion and passion toward a fictional character? I am NOT attacking you or how you celebrate specifically, I promise you are not personally victimizing the poor. But I am challenging you to evaluate the bigger picture and what your role in it should be. Is it time to say goodbye to the big lie?

[Yes, many poor people use Santa too and yes they are part of the issue too but they are not sending the same message to their children. Many are forced to be honest with their children because they can not explain away the hurt their child feels when their gifts don’t quite match up. Others go into debt trying to keep the “magic” alive for their child. None of this is good.] 

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