Sunday, March 23, 2008

Goodbye to the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus

Thursday our 8-year-old son found our hiding place and saw the baskets and all the candy we bought for him and his sister. He started continually asking if the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus real, so we decided he's old enough to know these little facts of life.

It took many words and a fair amount of time. But basically I told him that even though the Easter Bunny isn't real, it's a symbol of something very real - the unconditional love of God for us. I told him that some people have a hard time getting their minds around this idea so we use Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny to explain it.
God loves us even when we don't love Him and gives us gifts whether or not we give anything back. He asks us to love each other the same way.

I know Santa and the Bunny are part of the commercialization of these holy days, and many people object to them. (I'm sure this has occurred to my son as well.) I understand their reasons. Just the same, on some level I still believe. We have the Bible, but we still need ways to embody this, to bring it to our own time, to make it real for us. Flawed as they are, Santa, the Bunny, the eggs and the candy help us to do that.

After all, in a way that's what the Incarnation is about. God among us, living among us in a way we can comprehend. We can't allow these symbols to overshadow the real reasons we celebrate. But I think that, in their place, they can help us.

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