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The 2006 ASLaN Society
Christmas Essay




Sorry, Virginia, You Were Lied To

Sorry, Virginia, but you were lied to.

Worse than that, the counterfeit “Claus” that you and millions more were sold on in the nineteenth century is now more objectionable then when you were a little girl.

Back then Santa had the same spiritual flaws that his many “incarnations” still have, but he hadn’t been converted into the idolatrous and secularized patron saint of the Self that he often is today.

Sure, the hucksters of your day prostituted the good myth Santa for personal greed, but he still retained some humility. Now his favorite color is certainly cash-green, and he doesn’t appreciate alternative worship on Christmas morning maligning his false profits.

Shockingly, his iconic image is now abused by adverts who want others to discover the secrets in Victoria’s underwear. Even dolls at FAO Schwartz in New York wear leather straps, garter belts and little else. What, is Santa now a ho?

He was on a binge when you asked him for gifts, but currently the obese hedonist is given over to such avarice and gluttony that his co-creator, Henry Livingston, Jr., would be shocked. (Alas, your generation also thought that Clement Moore wrote “Twas the Night,” but he actually plagiarized it.) Indeed, if Livingston could have seen the ghost of Christmas future I think he might have burnt the catchy poem before it helped to fuel the Santa cult.

True, your era’s version of our post-modern perversion was still associated with the longing for good things like “faith, fancy, poetry, love, [and] romance,” but you were lied to nonetheless.

Yet if you asked me today, Virginia, I would still answer “Yes, there is a Santa Claus, and his name is Saint Nicholas, from Myra.”

Actually, the real Virginia O’Hanlon died in 1971, leaving behind 7 grandchildren. I wonder how many of their grandchildren know that the real St. Nicholas lives on?

That man was a beloved bishop who was born around 280 AD, in what is now Turkey, and his love for Jesus Christ and his concern for the poor, especially children, earned him a sacred place in world history.

The Dutch brought him to New Amsterdam in their wooden shoes as “Sinterklass,” where capitalism and the literary skills of Washington Irving saved him from near extinction after America’s first war on Christmas. That cultural struggle saw Massachusetts’s Puritans trying to outlaw celebrations on December 25th and in 12 of the 13 colonies any veneration of holy Nicholas was a serious Protestant sin.

Numerous websites and books have chronicled Nicholas’ long, strange trip in the new world, and how he was eventually kidnapped to the North Pole by Madison Avenue, or something like that. There is a growing, international movement of people, however, who are learning to just say “No” to the Santa drug.

The latest of these groups is the Czechoslovakian, Anti-Santa.cz, started this year by advertising copywriters who are fighting back against the “marketing heretics for another crucifixion of Baby Jesus and the importation of Santa.”

“I protest if someone forces his imported implant in a red suit on me while I'm at my Christmas Eve supper table,” says one of the group’s founders, Petr Voborský.

Regrettably, the modern pagan with supernatural powers was created right here in the red, white and blue, so resisting him will be much harder, as he holds a huge and well-guarded chunk of the Christmas market in the imaginations of many.

The recovery of a true Turkish Christmas doesn’t mean doing away with toy drives or trees, or even eggnog and mistletoe. It also doesn’t require that parents stop reading great stories or fairytales to young children.

But even beloved Aslan’s creator, C. S. Lewis, who understood the power of myth to convey truth, called “Exmas” a “commercial racket,” during which gift-giving guilt trips “were forced upon us by the shopkeepers.”

Hmmm…I don’t remember those Christmas essays being promoted during the marketing blitz for Narnia knick-knacks last Advent season?

So, dear Virginia’s out there, it is time to ditch “The Claus,” and to follow St. Nick—to the Incarnation, where the Gift of salvation is still given to man.

Do not seek him at Santa’s usurping throne at the mall, in a worshipful Hollywood account that ascribes glory to Santa, or in the magical but temporary thrill of a gift under a tree.

Do seek him in the manger of your heart and in a house of worship that honors the Messiah whom Nicholas adored. There you will find, of course, sinners, but also bread and wine, gifts and givers, and songs of Christmas joy: toys around the Tree of Life that will last for eternity.

This counsel should pass muster with the Anti-Christmas Liberties Union, for it concurs with the Constitution, where the birth and Divinity of Jesus is affirmed in the official words “The Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven.”

So friends, have a MARY Christmas, and a very St. Nicholas New Year!


Sinter Knicker is a librarian and poet, and the founder of the International ASLaN Society.


Read the 2005 ASLaN Christmas Commentary: The Christmas Theology of the Constitution