My daughter spilled the beans about Santa. She was in 2nd grade and a group of girls were huddled on the playground talking (rapidly) about their Christmas wish lists. One friend giggled her excitement about Santa’s visit on Christmas Eve. My daughter felt she needed to set her straight.
“You know that Santa’s not real.” She announced with stern authority.
“Yes he is!”
“No he’s not!”
“Yes—.” You get the idea. Her friend had the last word, however. Just as the recess bell rang she said, “Rush Limbaugh says that anyone who doesn’t believe in Santa is stupid!”
When I picked her up after school my daughter blurted out the story and asked, “I’m not stupid. You said Santa isn’t real. He isn’t is he?”
What do you do about the ‘Santa’ thing in your house? It was a tough one for us. We like the fun and excitement of the Santa stories and the anticipation of his coming. However, we were deeply concerned about two issues. First, we didn’t want the message of Christ’s birth to get lost. Second, we didn’t want to lie to our children.
It’s tempting to get rid of Santa altogether for fear of watering down the Christmas message, but we decided to enjoy the traditions of Santa and use them to point our kids to Jesus. We talked about the first Santa, St. Nicholas. God used him to help needy and hurting children. (Did you know he went to jail for standing firm in his faith?) We talked about the fact that if Santa were real, he would probably be one of the first to bow at the manger and give his heart to Jesus.
We chose not to lie to our kids about Santa. We didn’t want them to ever doubt that their parents tell them the truth, especially about important matters like Santa and Christmas. We decided that, when they asked if Santa is real, we would tell them the truth, “No, Santa isn’t a real person, but we have a fun time pretending. Daddy pretends to be Santa when everyone is asleep. We can still pretend.” We kept on pretending… ash footprints on the hearth, cookie crumbs left on Santa’s plate, and presents mysteriously appearing under the tree.
My kids are teenagers now. Their faith in Jesus is strong and their love for Christmas overflows. Weaving Santa into the celebration has equipped them to use the Santa traditions to point people to the real hero of Christmas Christ the Savior of the world. An extra bonus: many happy Christmas memories!!
“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of darkness, a light will shine.” Isaiah 9:2 NLT