The first Christmas I celebrated was only a few short years ago, well into my twenties. I have no fond childhood memories of Christmas to share because, being raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, my parents didn’t celebrate the holiday. I don’t feel slighted in any way. I had a very good childhood, simply without Christmas.
The first and most vivid Christmas memory I have came when I was six years old. At that age, I didn’t know the reason why Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate Christmas is because of its pagan roots, I simply knew that “true Christians” don’t celebrate it. I knew that it was evil. I knew that it was one of Satan’s tricks. I knew that Jehovah hated it. And I knew that if I celebrated Christmas I would miss out on everlasting life.
I also knew that the word Santa, if you switched the last three letters around, spelled Satan.
It was the last day of school before winter break, and my fellow kindergartener were buzzing with excitement in anticipation of the class Christmas party at the end of the day. Rumor had it that Santa would be showing up.
My mom had it covered though. She would pick me up an hour early to rescue me from the satanic festivities. I knew that there would be presents and cake and fun, but I wanted no part of it! It was pure evil.
I remember telling my classmate Jason that Santa wasn’t even real. “He’s not real for you,” he said, “because you’re a Jew.” I didn’t know what a Jew was, but I gloated with the thinking that I had superior knowledge and he was a sorry misguided soul, firmly in the grasp of wickedness.
After lunch I kept my eye on my Casio watch, waiting for zero hour 2:00 P.M. Yes, I had a watch in kindergarten; just one more reason why I was cooler than the other kids. 1:45 came and passed as I anxiously gazed out the classroom window into the parking lot, hoping for a glimpse of my mom’s car.
Although more than a bit nervous, I knew that if the party started before my mom arrived I could isolate myself in the corner and look at a book. Jehovah surely would understand. After all, I had experienced one or two classroom birthday parties before. I had simply refused the cupcake, ate my crackers, and said a little silent prayer. It was all good.
Ten minutes until two and the teacher called for cleanup time. Gathering my art supplies, I headed for the bin next to the door. As I approached, HE walked in. No more than 4 feet from where I stood, I saw his red suit and white beard. He looked down at me with a grin. I’m sure it was a lovely grin, but my 6-year-old eyes saw all that was evil in this wicked world. My entire body immediately warmed. Not a good warm, mind you, but the kind of warm you feel when you are so terrified that it is physically impossible to move. I remember having that feeling only once before, at Chuck E. Cheese, when a giant mouse approached me from behind.
But this was different. God didn’t hate the giant mouse, but He hated Santa. I knew that he was just a man dressed in a suit, but that didn’t matter. The suit transforms a mere man into the personification of Christmas. Not something abstract like a birthday, but a tangible evil that you can actually look at, touch and interact with.
I don’t recall what happened after that. But apparently I survived to tell the tale. I found out later that Santa was Mr. Amazene, the principal of the school. I didn’t look at him the same for the next few years.
Far removed from my Jehovah’s Witness upbringing, I enjoy a secularized form of Christmas with the kids every year. I must admit though, Santa still weirds me out a bit.
Santa image by Vectorportal.