While many families are hunkering down for a festive Christmas, the mood in the Claus household is more somber. And perhaps with good reason. Santa’s identity faces challenges with some clamoring that he should be neither a man nor a woman while others say he should be a man. But fear not Mrs. Claus, for based on a survey conducted by Graphic Springs, 19% believe Santa shouldn’t lay claim to any gender, while 10% say he should be woman and an overwhelming 70% say he should retain his male gender status. While we can be reassured that Santa in his current rendition is not about to be usurped any time soon, that this dialogue is even taking place defies comprehension.
Christmas is one of the few holidays that have transcended religion. It is a unifying time of the year for many. Indeed, the lore of Santa, the North Pole, toy making elves, and reindeer is cheery and warming but also rooted in compassion. The original Saint Nicholas, upon whom Santa is predicated, was actually a Greek Bishop born in the 4th century. He was known for his charitable acts of providing gifts to the poor. The ongoing tradition of gift giving to children post St. Nicholas was, in fact, in honor of his name day on December 6th. At the behest of Martin Luther during the Reformation, the date of gift giving was redirected to Christmas Eve as homage to Christ. While the Reformation gave rise to other traditions such as Christmas Trees, carols and Christmas markets, St. Nicholas endured and became Santa Claus. This evolution over 1600 years has put the Claus family firmly on the map.
There is a place for historic tradition. Stories, characters, myths and so on are passed along over generations. This collective history is one thing that the human population can share in every culture, religion, and ethnic group. What is worrisome is that the influence of the so called “social justice warriors,” who are behind the generation of such unique ideas such as a gender fluid Santa, remains unchecked. The world is living in precarious times for a whole host of reasons; growing income equality, rampant poverty, drug resistant antibiotics, war and environmental damage, just to name a few. This indulgence to impose gender fluidity on one of the most beloved figures in history is tantamount to idiocy. To be sure, this is beyond the scope of what could be defined as politically correct.
Will Rudolph’s red nose offend the global clown confederation? Will Santa’s Elves offend little people? And what of Mrs. Claus? She is a character in this narrative that seems to have been overlooked because a handful of people are more concerned about her husband’s gender identity. Let’s not forget that Santa is NOT real. (Since this is a column for adults, The Quintessential Centrist can take the liberty of making this assertion.) So where does it stop? More succinctly put, we are questioning the reality of everything except maybe reality television. Journalist Piers Morgan, when discussing the Santa issue, mockingly drew a parallel to Barbie noting, “How do we even know if this is a girl, by the way?” He’s right.
Debating Santa's gender is a very first world problem of useless self-indulgence. We embrace democracy, free speech, freedom of thought and capitalism to make meaningful changes to society, not turn the world on its head for no apparent good reason. Those who are languishing in slums and who are, at the very least aware of Christmas do not have the luxury to ponder Santa’s gender. For those, and many others, Christmas and Santa signify joy and hope; that hope comes in the way of donations, gifts and alms. This and other issues tangentially related to the politically correct movement, are ironically a function of the economic and political freedoms that most of the Western world enjoys. Put simply, this is not a real-life problem.
The energies channeled into Santa’s identity crisis are well intentioned with the idea of inclusivity. Unfortunately, they are creating a more fractious environment in a time when society needs to allocate more human capital on bridging the differences in our values and objectives. If we are seeking purpose amid the political storm that has gripped the United States, since President Trump’s election, then spending time debating Santa's gender is certainly a misguided approach. It is indeed fascinating that more resources of those very energies and intentions are not being channeled into more meaningful issues such as income equality, homelessness, the opioid crisis and so on. If we want to resurrect a more civil society, then we need to go back to basics and leave the identity of our more cherished traditions untouched. Let Santa power on through the skies as he is with his herd of reindeer!