Did I ever tell you the story about Santa Claus? He’s the guy who lives at the North Pole for some reason and has a magic sleigh and reindeer with which he zips around the world Christmas Eve night and delivers presents to everyone!
Did I ever tell you the one about Santa’s ninth reindeer, Rudolph? He was born with a glowing red nose, and the other reindeer bullied him over it, until one foggy Christmas Eve, when Santa couldn’t fly anywhere because magic sleighs and flying reindeer are no match for ordinary fog that apparently covers the entire world, they realized Rudolph’s red nose makes a fine fog light, so they were able to go out after all.
Did I ever tell you the one about Frosty the Snowman? He was a snowman who came to life and started dancing around once a hat was put on his head because Christmas snow is amazing like that.
Did I ever tell you the one about Ebenezer Scrooge? He was some miser who hated everyone and everything until three Christmas ghosts visited him and convinced him he’s a dick, so he changed his ways just in time for Christmas morning.
Did I ever tell you the one about Jesus? His mother Mary immaculately conceived him, since he was the Son of God, and she and her husband Joseph traveled all the way to Bethlehem and delivered him in a stable, which made a big star appear in the sky, because this meant that everyone would now be forgiven for regretted wrongdoing…
Oh, crap. It just got real.
There’s no problem decorating our houses with Santa Claus and snowmen or nutcrackers, or putting up Dickensian houses on our living room tables. That’s normal for this time of year. We tell their stories and make them symbols of this lovely holiday season…
This is all despite the fact that these stories are widely accepted as being fictional.
Yet when it comes to Jesus, there’s an annoying fork in the road. One way means you believe the story about Jesus to be 100% historical fact and then you include him in all your decorations and songs and activities. The other way means you do not believe the Jesus story to be true at all and therefore leave him out entirely of the decorations and songs and activities.
I really don’t want to do either. Can’t I just be someone who doesn’t feel it matters if the story of Jesus is true or not? Yet at the same time, can’t I still accept that story as part of Christmas just like the others, given no special treatment? I mean, why do we listen to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer with the idea that it’s just a cute story while listening to The First Noel with the expectation that one has to believe this story as true? To me, they’re all nice songs that tell nice stories, whether the story is a generous saint who flies around the world on Christmas Eve or about a miraculous birth signifying universal divine forgiveness.
Jesus is great, but he’s only ONE part of Christmas.