Naughty or Nice


Naughty or Nice

by Jim Josephsen

The winter solstice is fast approaching. Shortly thereafter, come December 25th, Christians will pause to pay homage to the babe in the manger. At least that is what the holiday supposedly acknowledges!

However, it seems religious aspects of Christmas are fast being supplanted by commercialismconsumerism and pageantry. Christmas is not so much about the Christ-child, as it is a time of fun, celebration, frivolity and felicity; gifts and cheer. So goes the way of this secular world!

Throughout the world, where this holiday is observed, schools, governments and public institutions have to walk softly this time of year in order not to offend those who would rather see religion put out of Christmas all together. Which isn’t such a bad thing!

The annual argument prevails yet again – put Christ back in Christmas. Really – if only the proponents of this manger tradition would simply read their Biblesand be honest with history, they would be able to see the idiocy of expressing such nonsense; mixing Jesus Christ with pagan festivals and superstitions. However, replacing error with the truth is a painful exercise, indeed!

Does truth really matter in our day and age?  Who cares about history and the truth?

Truth and history aside, as the month of November turned the page, the spirit of Christmas began to inundate the minds of many, as the sounds of the season began to fill the air.

Yuletide classics and popular Christmas carols now echo across retail stores, grocery stores and shopping malls with music saturating the ears of young and old alike.

Joy to the WorldHark the Herald Angels SingGod, Rest Ye Merry GentlemenSilent Night, remind the celebrants of Christmases long long ago.

Go Tell it on the Mountain,” “Away in a Manger,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “We Three Kings of Orient Are,” “Hallelujah,” “Little Drummer Boy,” “The First Noel,” are some of the traditional Yule hymns recognized around the world. All these traditional songs are emphasizing the religious aspects of Christmas. But along came modern man, secular man!

Arriving in the 20th century, “Silver Bells,” “Blue Christmas,” “Winter Wonderland,” “White Christmas,” “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” and “Holly Jolly Christmas” are some of the modern compositions, emphasizing seasonal merriment with little or no mention of the one who supposedly brings meaning to the holiday. Such is the way of our modern world, carving God out of the picture. The less of God, the better the fun. Nevertheless, as the truth speaks, God has nothing to do with Christmas.

What child has not grown up listening to “Deck the Halls,” “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer” or “Here Comes Santa Claus”?

Although the overwhelming majority of children’s tunes disassociate Jesus, these melodies quickly bring one to associate the Christmas season. Such is the way of music this time of year; setting the tone for giddiness, without a care in the world, without honor.

What adult and child alike would not be familiar with the following lyrics: 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 … he’s making a list. He’s checking it twice. He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice …? (No doubt now, that silly little song is going through your head right now. Sorry about that!)

Santa Claus is Coming to Town, a farcical tune written in 1934 further Americanized the folklore of Sinterklaas or in its Anglicized form, Saint Nicholas, whose origins actually date back to the 4th Century Bishop of Myra.

Although considered a lively, cheery, upbeat melody, it is somewhat ironic, how this silly kiddy song about a mythical, fictitious character has shaken many a child into submission over the decades. Well, at least during the month of December.

No doubt still today, many a child has become paralyzed at the thought of Santa actually withholding his gifts from those whose behavior is called into question; whose conduct is bad; who are characterized as naughty. The thought of coal instead of an Xbox or iPad – why how unfair! Not Santa!

How often through the years, have parents in their anguish over the misbehavior of their children, resonated the words, “if you don’t behave yourself, Santa Claus won’t bring you any Christmas presents”? So now, Santa has usurped parental judgment; a responsibility solely required of parents over their children!

To further add to the deception, have you heard of “Elf on the Shelf”? This popular children’s book with an accompanying red elf toy promotes the idea that Santa sends elves to spy on kids and reports back as to whether their behavior is good or bad. The parents are encouraged to name the elf and magically move it throughout the house each day. If the kids are misbehaving, the parents can then use the elf as leverage, threatening their children that the elf will go back to Santa and report the bad behavior.

To actually consider that Santa is watching over children at night, when they’re sleeping and during the day, when they’re awake (because, as the song goes, he sees and he knows), has no doubt kept many a child in line; on the straight and narrow; obedient little tykes.

Well, that is at least until these kids learn the reality – there is no Santa Claus. Then these betrayed, hoodwinked children, perhaps even heartbroken, become somewhat cynical, suspicious and distrustful, as they grow older. No longer fooled, now cognizant of the hoax, these children grow into teens and eventually become adults, who won’t be fooled again. Now if there is no Santa, maybe there is no Jesus – the thought often develops!

Naughty or Nice? Who cares? Is anyone really looking? Certainly not the fat man in the red suit, with the jolly laugh! Oh sure, maternal guilt, morals or civic duty may force the issue from time to time. Situation ethics may come into play as a guide to behavior.  However, to think that God is watching? Right!  Certainly no one is looking!

Consider the damage just this one lie, of the many lies associated with Christmas, has done over the years; subtly, subconsciously. How many adults really contemplate the possibility, stopping to think, that someone bigger than they are, is watching; day and night, checking to see whether they are in the proverbial sense, naughty or nice?

How ironic it is, that this Christian holiday, supposedly honoring God in the flesh, deceives its celebrants and leads many to disregard God.

How ironic it is, that this silly little tune about Santa Claus obfuscates a reality, to which all mankind, man, woman and child, ought to give heed.

The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good (Proverbs 15:3).

The ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord and He ponders all his goings (Proverbs 5:21).

It is becoming more difficult for people these days to accept that God exists, let alone that God watches over them, that God really cares.

Look at this world, with its dictators, with self-serving and deceptive democratic governments; with its religious confusion and hypocrisy. Look at the behaviors and lifestyle choices now given free allowance. Look at the murders, greed, bigotry, adultery, and the multitude of deceptions common to all societies. Does any of this matter? Is anyone watching?

Look at your life. Does it measure up to the standards set, and the Laws given, by the One who watches?

For many these days, it simply does not matter how they behave, let alone do they give any consideration to the idea that God is watching.

Well, it does matter!

For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

As the truth speaks, you had better watch out, for indeed someone sees you – day and night; checking to see if you’re naughty or nice – and more.

Naughty or Nice? The choice is yours. But remember, God sees; day and night watching His creation; as this is His responsibility to do.