Calm down, it’s Santa — not Satan: Opinion
A friend of mine was infuriated this week when she learned her young daughter had been clumsily enlightened about a certain Christmas tradition.
Excited as she was with her little school friends thinking about December 25 and the delightful lead up to it, it became a moment this child will never forget and for all the wrong reasons.
One of her teachers addressed her as part of a group of pupils and in a theological discussion about God being real, this dynamite was casually lobbed into the chat.
"But Santa isn't."
Of course there were kids who knew The Truth about the portly man in the red fur-trimmed suit.
But plenty didn't, including my friend's girl who sat there head spinning and fighting back the tears while the older children sniggered as if to indicate: what, you didn't know?
This 10-year-old says she still believes in Santa so a fabulous festive season lies ahead with family, flashing lights constructed by Dad and presents under the tree.
As it should be. Santa is a singular beacon of childhood innocence.
Why would a reasonable adult approach anything that could puncture that? And since when did it become the role of a teacher to clarify the existence of Santa and his flying reindeer?
But this anecdote also underpins something more sinister: the woke-ification of Christmas.
The joyless scolds who have taken it upon themselves to ruin every other holiday on the calendar are now on a mission to unpick and ridicule Christmas tradition.
Commercialism was the first festive season sin to be declared with critics breezily declaring that re-gifting was the only responsible option this season.
Not 'don't spend up big', but don't spend at all, putting a very chill wind up retailers who count on our cash injection this time of year.
No matter then, too, that as social animals, to give and receive as part of a celebration is our nature.
What this maxim fails to acknowledge is that you don't have to buy loads of plastic. Instead support the farmers this year by buying presents from them or regional vineyards.
If you don't want the stress of a trawl round the mall or your ankles clipped by trolleys, then stay indoors. Wealthy actor and jetsetting climate crusader Emma Thompson has announced her campaign against gifts. "Christmas is a kind of complicated time of year," says Madam Thompson, who incidentally has a movie to promote.
"Everything comes up at Christmas and we don't talk about it - we tamp it all down by buying each other stuff.
"This year we're going to have a sustainable Christmas - no gifts." How nice - for you Emma.
Instead of exchanging gifts, she will take her family for a walk.
"So you're not thinking in the run up to Christmas, 'Oh what am I going to get …' You've not got that terrible thing of thinking you have to spend all the money and also what are you going to get them because we have everything because some of us do have way too much."
Another friend's kids were instructed to write a 'woke' Christmas letter to Santa on the proviso they did not ask for material things.
How does that even work under the most liberal interpretation of naughty and nice behaviour?
So no Lego because that adds to landfill and that should now be a moral dilemma for a five-year-old.
This year's second sin is buying decorations. Apparently it is wasteful and, get this, you should rent a tree rather than buy a cut real one or a fake one.
Like the Puritans of old who railed against Christmas because they thought the celebration an offence to God, today's secular Puritans want to take the joy out of the day because it is an offence against greenness.
Meanwhile, in the real world the rest of us have been re-using decorations for years and some of them probably belonged to our parents.
Opening up the box of baubles, tinsel and garlands is a part of the annual fun.
Likewise, the same tree carted inside from the garage or under the house to be erected again.
And no one's virtue signalling about it. It's a faux pine with perfect boughs and no dropped needles to vacuum up. Surely that is gold star recycling/carbon neutralising. And we're quietly getting on with it in our homes, aided by our kids who are excited about Santa coming to town.
On it goes. Ho ho, no.
Sending Christmas cards is now considered a gauche marker of waste, never mind that buying cards and stamps for them is quite a nice way to keep the local postie in business.
You know, the person for whom you would leave a box of chocolates.
The woke brigade targeting Christmas have their own fantasies of course - how Australia should decarbonise to effectively lower world temperature and the belief that kids in schools should be taught that men have periods and babies.
But we need to capture and protect yuletide traditions lest they torn to shreds and binned like yesterday's gift wrap. Every aspect of Jesus's birthday which has been prodded and analysed to death.
I don't understand why Thompson and her ilk need to announce their Christmas plans to the world. It smacks of martyrdom.
I have a friend who has bought a flowering gum tree in lieu of a Christmas tree this year, which will go in the ground after Christmas.
Every time the family looks at that tree they will stir a memory of a happy family holiday.
Sure, she bought it which will no doubt raise the ire of the anti-consumerism brigade but she bought it from a local nursery that cultivates their trees from local seed.
She was happy to pay a bit more, as it meant the money would stay local and the tree was endemic to the area.
We don't need to try so hard.
If the family down the street choose to go all out, surround their houses in fairy lights and blow-up Santas and it makes them happy, we leave them be.
And end the cultural assault on the Christmas spirit.
Louise Roberts is executive editor of The Daily Telegraph.