LETTER : Christian Christmases need Santa - and cribs

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From Mr Martin Hill

Sir: The upset caused by Canon Brian Andrews to the parishioners and children in his congregation is a lesson which the theologically minded need to learn ("Vicar's attack on Santa ends in tears", 18 December).

Christmas is not about the historicity of the gospel birth narratives or the difference between fact and fable. Neither is it about the contemporary issues, highlighted by the Rt Rev Dr David Jenkins, of homelessness, poverty and oppression. It is about having a nice time with little children dressed as angels, shepherds, kings, Joseph and Mary and a dolly in the manger to represent the baby Jesus. It is about trying to find a "window" in a world increasingly pressured by universal degradation and self-worthlessness to see the possibility of affirmation and self-worth.

David Jenkins is right to bring into question the increasing materialism with which the traditional spiritual values of Christmas are blighted. Yes, let us affirm the facts of the gospel message, indeed I am all for it, but let the spirit of giving embodied in Santa Claus remain a part of our children's Christmas. Perhaps by the maintenance of this traditional embellishment to Christmas our children may learn that Christmas is about giving: God's gift to us of Jesus Christ, the symbolic gifts made to him by the magi, and our exchanging gifts with one another to mark this tremendous act of a loving God.

Yours faithfully,

Martin Hill


18 December