During Christmas week I was listening to a discussion on the radio regarding the place of Santa Claus in Christmas. Was it good or bad, the talk show’s host wanted to know? As you can imagine, there were all sorts of opinions expressed by callers who thought the inclusion of Santa in Christmas was good, bad, and everywhere in between.
One man said he thought the problem with Santa Claus was that he grabbed too much attention. The focus of the holiday should be Christ; His birth, after all, is what the season celebrates. But so many people forget Christ and center their festivities on Santa Claus instead. Santa, the caller said, usurps the honor and attention that is due to Jesus.
With these comments fresh in my mind, I came across a timely article at MormonTimes.com: ‘Praise to the Man’ honors Joseph Smith. The article was about a new Mormon Tabernacle Choir CD scheduled to be released on Joseph Smith’s 203rd birthday (December 23, 2008). Titled “Praise to the Man,” the recording is a “special Joseph Smith tribute album.” MormonTimes.com explained that an advance copy of the CD had been presented to LDS President Thomas Monson. According to the article,
This is the 16th CD the choir has done since establishing its own recording label, noted Sheri L. Dew, president and CEO of Deseret Book, who made the presentation. “Since then we’ve sold around 2 million albums. But the choir has never done one more meaningful for the members of the church…”
President Monson praised the efforts of the choir for “utilizing their God-given skills. You never know how many hearts have been touched and lives have been changed,” he said.
…[President Monson] noted that he’s always appreciated the fact that Joseph Smith was born in the season in which we celebrate the birth of Christ. “I think very little happens by coincidence,” he said. And at this season, he’s happy that our thoughts can be drawn to Joseph Smith. “He gave us everything.”
As I read this I was reminded of an article I saw in the November 1st edition of the LDS Church News. This article talked about the “Christmastime events at the [LDS] Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City.” In addition to noting the display of a “world-class collection of Polish Nativity scenes”, the article said:
To extend gratitude for Jesus Christ into the new year, the museum will observe the Dec. 23, 1805, birthday of the Prophet Joseph Smith, who helped restore a complete knowledge of Christ in this dispensation, with a celebration Dec. 23-Jan. 3.
Festivities will include story-telling, birthday treats, crafts and games, a theatre shop, and a discovery tour enabling children to explore artifacts throughout the museum pertaining to the Prophet’s life. (page 6)
I would like to ask all of you here at Mormon Coffee a question similar to that asked by the radio talk show host: What about the place given to Joseph Smith in Christmas? Do you think it’s good, bad, or otherwise? And why do you think so?