Santa Claus Isn’t Coming to Town

If anyone under the age of 12 is reading this: Santa really exists and if you are good you get presents at Christmas but if not he drops coal in your stocking from the pile he uses to keep his elves warm on the North Pole. Now follow this link or this one.

In the seminary, the Legion wants to form us each into the complete man God has in mind for us. One clear aspect of Legionary life is apostolate so from the very beginning we each try to do six hours a week. Right now, for instance, part of this time is dedicated to writing these reflections.

My first year in the Legion, I taught CCD at the Doolittle School. (Yes you’re allowed to laugh, the front display in the school was the Doolittle Do-A-Lot award.)

One week I couldn’t teach but someone was found as a replacement. I logically assumed that they had given the lesson that was assigned for that week. When I showed up the next week, however, I found out they gave the same lesson I prepared for that week.

I was stumped! I quickly pondered what I could tell these 4th graders as I officially had nothing prepared. Following the KIS (Keep It Simple) – or the simplicity is saintly – principle, I decided to explain that Jesus was real and the Eucharist was real.

So, if you have to say something is real, what a better way to do that then by comparing it with what is false. So I went over how Cinderella, and Jack and the Beanstalk were just stories, but the Gospels are real. Somehow, in the mix, I said Santa is just a story too.

The next day, Br (now Fr) Brian Shininger called me into his office because, as it turns out, one mom called the DRE and was pulling her 4th grader out of CCD since I destroyed the Santa-myth. There was nothing I could do; the DRE had tried to offer an apology and the offer to speak with me but the mom no longer wanted anything to do with St. Bridget’s.

The same absent chair for the rest of the year told me who it was. I pray for this kid and his family regularly; I hope they have since come back to the Church. Even in my failure, I think I learned some valuable lessons: always be prepared with a back-up plan, and when not necessary, avoid sensitive topics.

About Fr Matthew P. Schneider, LC

In 2001, I traveled from Calgary, Canada to join the Legion. Since then I’ve been all over North America and spent some time in Rome. I currently reside in Washington doing a bunch of writing and taking care of the community while studying my Licentiate in Theology (between Masters and Doctorate). I’m most well-known on Instagram and Twitter where I have about 6,500 and 40,000 followers respectively.
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5 Responses to Santa Claus Isn’t Coming to Town

  1. Janet says:

    I think the term “real” wasn’t very useful anyway regardless of the examples, especially to 4th graders but even to adults. It might have made your point better to compare the “gifts” from Santa and God and how we earn/deserve them or not. I am using this comparison on my card this year: Santa brings gifts to “good little girls and boys” but God’s love is unconditional – he loves us even if we do something wrong that separates us from Him. Salvation, Redemption and Unconditional Love are big gifts that even 4th graders can recognize as eternally “real” above and beyond anything that Santa might bring them. And you don’t have to deny Santa’s reality to get them to see the difference.

  2. Br Matthew Schneider, LC says:

    Ultimately, the fact that Jesus gives us “gifts” whether we deserve them or not is in many ways a more important lesson, a lesson that can help one grow more in the spiritual life.
    However, here I was going for something a little more basic; the goal was to teach apologetics against the general attitude of secularists to deny the historical Jesus was as the Gospels describe, and against the Protestants who claim the Eucharist is just a symbol. Obviously, anyone should recognize these things as eternally true automaticly but many in modern society don’t and the kids will be around these people much of the time.
    I did not think of it at the time but your comment presents a great follow-up lesson had I not messed up the first lesson by adding Santa in unnecessarily.

  3. Margaret says:

    I know this is an old post, but I just came across it.

    If it’s any consolation (and it probably isn’t), if a catechist had told my children in class that Santa was real I would have had something to say about it. I would have been angry and the teacher and possible the DRE would have heard from me.

    I’ve never taught my kids that Santa is real. I think it detracts from the real message that is Christmas. Also, in a world where natural law and even the concept of the existence of God are so embattled, I think it erodes our credibility as parents when we entertain and celebrate such elaborate lies that our secular culture has raised to dogma. Santa is /not/ real. God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit /are/. Truthfully, it offends me when people ask my kids if they’re ready for Santa to come visit or if they have written their letters to Santa yet. I don’t confront people about it, though. I teach my kids that the Santa business is a tradition and a game that people play at Christmas. I also teach them that it has become a vehicle of rationalization for our materialistic culture. At the heart of the game, it’s corrupt. We celebrate the real St. Nick’s Day on December 5. And…believe it or not, even with all these hard truths being taught in our home, our Christmases are wonderful, festive and overflowing with family love and joy.

    Go easy on yourself. That parent was in error, not you.

  4. Fr Matthew P. Schneider, LC says:


    Even if someone is wrong, we should respect them as a person.

    I think it’s up to parents to teach their kids about Santa the way they think is appropriate until about grade 2 when the trick no longer works for 95% of kids.

  5. Andi Andrzejewski says:

    Every Priest makes mistakes, in fact every priest makes at least one mistake that could cause a person to leave the church…I could tell you some humdingers that the priests of my childhood made. Ultimately – it’s the responsibility of the person, not the priest, if someone leaves over a mistake. Especially something like this. By 4th grade kids know inside themselves that Santa is not real, but play along because they like it, or they think their parents want them to, or for younger brothers and sisters, or just because …. but I doubt you wrecked the Santa myth for this kid.
    In fact I doubt they left Catholicism over it- they likely found a new parish.
    You are a fantastic priest – the fact that you are still concerned about this incident, ( enough to write about it least) proves that. Forgive yourself…you desrve it. 🙂

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