He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake
So you better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is comin' to town...

I'm not gonna lie, Santa is one creepy dude. Am I really gonna spend the holidays waiting for some jolly bearded fat guy wearing a red suit who has been watching me sleep at night, knows EVERYTHING I've done, and who apparently wants me to bottle up all of my emotions to come creep down my chimney? Or, since I live in an apartment, break through my sliding door on my deck (seems to be the most logical place to break in from the landing spot on the roof)?

Plus, Santa is super judgey. I have so many questions. Like, where is the good/naughty line? Is there some type of meter I should be aware of so that throughout the year I can track how good/naughty I've been and make sure I don't pass the naughty mark on the naughtometer? And if I do slide past that unknown naughty mark that Santa apparently pulls out of his butt, suddenly I don't get squat for Christmas?

Also, how am I judged? Is this all about how I treat others? How well I obey orders? Does this include all of my private thoughts because good lord then I'm definitely on the naughty list. Merry freakin' Christmas to me.

Not only that, but despite not knowing if I made the good or naughty list I'm supposed to make this dude a snack? And let him in my house? Santa, if you are reading this, oh my gosh, I KNOW you are reading this, I want you to know, I will straight up Home Alone you if you step one foot on our deck this Christmas.

And I haven't even gotten to the crazy part yet...

My wife Meghann and I decided a long time ago to not do the whole Santa deal for Christmas when we have kids. And I never really thought it was a big deal to make such a decision until recently when I found that not doing the whole Santa thing can make you seem a bit...crazy. Overzealous. Fanatical even.

I've heard from other families that have made similar decisions that there have been accusations of killing the magic of Christmas. Of being bah-humbug and in need of some Christmas spirits to visit in the middle of the night.

So I'm gonna come out and say something about Santa and the implementation of the Santa story that goes against everything we believe in:

Santa Claus is anti-gospel.

I can already hear it now...SEEEEEE you are a crazy FANATICAL! Hang with me!

The Santa story definitely has elements of fun and magic. But ultimately with Santa everything is performance based. Do good and you are rewarded. Be naughty and you get nothing or depending on what Santa mythology we are talking about, you get punished. So then we use Santa during the year as an enforcer of obedience. Clean your room can quickly become clean your room or you'll get nothing for Christmas! SANTA SEEES, HEEE SEEEES US (Gollum voice).

And this enforcement of obedience, the do good or there will be no reward, only reinforces our culture of performance. The Gospel though is different. The Gospel says that you were most definitely on the naughty list, in fact, what we get from the Story leaves no ambiguity on that and no need for the naughtometer. BUT, it also says that while we were still enemies of Jesus and his Kingdom, He died for us. That Jesus became brokenness so that we could be made whole. That Jesus experienced separation from His Father so that we can be invited into His family. The Gospel reveals a God who clearly sees who we truly are, who does know our thoughts and inner being, and lovingly sent a Rescuer in a way that no one saw coming.

In fact, regardless of what a little boy with a Red Rider BB gun with a compass in the stock, and this thing that tells time might tell you, THIS is the Christmas story.

So are we ruining the magic of Christmas? Well, here is the thing, Santa, while creepy, can still be a very fun character. We are all about the movie Elf and I wear Santa hats and even have a sweet sweater depicting Santa riding a Stegosaurus. But he is just a fun character and nothing more in our home. I mean, I know that Middle Earth isn't real but does that ruin my ability to enjoy Lord of the Rings?

The magic of Christmas for us is in the Story of a Rescuer coming down to his people in a very unexpected way. The magic of Christmas is in this Kingdom that Jesus initiated on earth that is so different from the way the world usually works. One in which Jesus said the first will be last and the last will be first. Where Jesus dies to overcome death. Where we are broken and he becomes broken to make us whole again. Where our performance doesn't gain us favor because we are loved simply because we are His.

And to continue that theme of the Kingdom we talk about how Christmas is celebrated as Jesus' birthday. (This is not a confirmation that this exact date, December 25th is the actual birthday of Jesus, only that this is the day that we choose to celebrate the first appearance of Jesus!) And on this day, when we usually give gifts to the birthday boy or girl, God once again does something different. God doesn't need our gifts, I mean, what do you get the person who has everything? Instead, we give gifts to each other in celebration. And hopefully, throughout the year we remember the great gifts we've been given by God, and that great love that we experience encourages us to continue giving good gifts to everyone around us throughout the year, whether that gift be made of our time, our resources, or anything else that is needed.

So get behind me, Santa! I have something greater and far more magical to celebrate.