There are 2 men vying for our attention this festive season.
In the Red corner, the front runner, Father Christmas, aka Santa, dressed in fur and Coca Cola Red, rotund, bearded and jolly…and in the blue (with cold) corner, baby Jesus, aka Christ, dressed in nothing more than strips of cloth, newborn-small and lying in a feeding trough. Somebody stop the contest. This doesn’t seem a fair match.

Jesus versus Santa. It makes you think. What do they bring to the ring? Santa brings a list of good people, he’s ‘found out who’s naughty and nice’. We approve of this approach; rewards to the good and deserving and a moral lesson for the naughty. Jesus brings a weird tendency to hang around with the naughty, to eat in their homes and call them friends. He has no list. He says he hasn’t come to judge but to save. We don’t like this. Round one Santa.

Santa lets us write a list too. We can tell him what to bring. Bring me stuff. Bring me lots of stuff to stuff into my already over-stuffed house. Bring me upgrades of stuff I got last year; I want the latest, shiniest, I-bet-you-want-one stuff. Don’t bring me any old thing. Bring me something from my online wish list. And bring it on time, by Christmas Day please. Jesus won’t do well against this. He says you can’t tell him what to bring. His gifts look a bit odd. The gift of serving, the gift of painful maturity, the gift of joy (which, it turns out, is nothing to do with happiness and doesn’t come with its own batteries). WHAT KIND OF GIFT IS THAT? Where’s my stuff? I’ve been telling you what I wanted? And no, thank you, I don’t need the reminder that you’re working all things together for my good or that your ways or not my ways. Round 2 Santa.

Santa likes letters. You only have to write once a year. Well, yes, he does let his elves do a lot of the leg-work. A nice, crisp, annual letter to him. He’s so undemanding in this respect; up there in his snowy home, drinking sherry and waiting for the December rush. Jesus says I can speak anytime. This sounds OK until I realise he wants to answer. He wants 2 way, 365 day a year connection. He wants to see past the Facebook Wall and asks all kinds of searching questions.

Here comes the knockout round. Santa will just drop by; drink a polite glass, nibble a pie, leave the stuff and make a hasty exit. What are we speaking about here? 3 minutes, once a year. Jesus hangs around. He stays for dinner and wants to meet the family. It’s OK for a while. Actually he’s more fun than you’d think. He keeps suggesting all these madcap adventures and laughs a lot. But he has strange friends and I’m not sure I can handle the commitment. He’s starting to make himself at home and move things around. I’m not sure I like this? Who does he think he is? If he’s here until Easter all hell will break loose!

Knockout!