Why I’ll Never Have an ‘Elf on the Shelf’ – Pt 1

Yes folks, look out! This one is a two-part-er!

 

Happy Tuesday! And guess what?! No one, NOT A SINGLE PERSON challenged me and tried to convince me to get one of those gosh darned ‘Elf on the Shelf’ creatures.

Which is fine. I didn’t expect to get much more than an eye roll or two on the subject. To each his own, right? But still. The antics those elves get into are humorous, and there is a mischievous part of me that wants to give in to the cultural phenomenon.  Who doesn’t like making kids believe in the magic of Santa?

But then I have to take a step back and remind myself of a few things, especially when I look at those wise men dotted around my house. You see, especially since the birth of my son, I’ve been trying harder to make my house into the domestic Church that it should be. I try to pay attention to the liturgical year and celebrate when and how it’s appropriate. That’s another reason I started KNOW YOUR SAINTS! – So I could pay more attention to the Catholic calendar. Why can’t I incorporate an elf into that celebration? Here’s why…

 

What it comes down to is St. Nicholas vs. Santa Claus

 

And that’s the long and short of it. When I was in middle school, I think it was, we had a parish priest from Uganda (He pronounced it ‘Ugandaar’ –to this day we love his accent) who despised the American construct of Santa Claus, and refused to call St. Nick by that name. But instead of pish-poshing the entire idea and being a scrooge about it, if you will, he instead did the loveliest thing…

During the Christmas Eve way too packed where-the-heck-did-all-these-Catholics-come-from early evening Mass, he had all of the little children come up to the alter and sit around his chair. He began by speaking to them about the Christmas story, and asking them questions to make sure they knew what the season was all about. The children, along with the rest of the congregation, were listening attentively and silently when all of a sudden a cell phone goes off LOUD. It was obnoxious and persistent. People started looking around, and Father even stopped to look over at… the deacon, who was sitting next to him, and getting his phone out of his pocket! And then HE ANSWERED IT! We were all agape, yet Father was waiting patiently. The deacon said “Yes, hold on, here he is,” and hands the phone to Father, “It’s for you!”

Well, the children were looking at each other as Father carried on a conversation with someone on this phone, when all of a sudden he announces that St. Nick is calling! And he wanted to check in with all the children at this Mass to make sure they were being good. The kids were enthralled.

I honestly can’t remember the rest of the conversation, homily, or Mass after that. It was a long time ago, give me a break. But my point here is that, though he felt that Santa Claus had no place anywhere, and was really just an absurd construct, he did more that night to reinforce the mystery of the season than any of those parents could do by themselves. This is the route that I want to take.

Because, you see I’m the kind of person who almost doesn’t want to do ‘Santa.’ Because it’s not ‘Santa,’ it’s St. Nicholas. The ‘Santa’ of our culture today barely reflects that saint, and I have a problem with that. I want my kids to know who Santa really is: a man that does, in fact, see you when you’re sleeping, but is trying to get you into heaven at the same time. A man you can ask to pray for you, just like any other saint, except that this one replies with presents on a regular yearly basis. I should never have to prove ‘Santa’ is real, because St. Nick is, along with St. Lucy, St. Ambrose, St. Clement, St. Augustine, St. Elizabeth, St. Anthony, St. Francis, St. Theresa, St. Agnes, etc etc etc…

 

To be continued on Thursday!

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