Christmas and Santa…

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

4 thoughts on “Christmas and Santa…

  1. AnnMarie

    This is an interesting subject for me. I never told my young son about Santa, and we spoke about how he wasn’t real, and then last year he suddenly believed in him. I really didn’t know what to do, to be honest. Like you, I never wanted to lie to my child. He sometimes talks about Santa, and we talk together about Saint Nikolaus, but my favorite book that addresses this issue, slightly, is “God Gave us Christmas,” by Lisa Tawn Bergren. It talks about how it is God who gave us Christmas by giving us the gift of Jesus in the world. It also says how “Santa” helps remind us to be generous and care for others, but it is God who gave us Christmas. 🙂

  2. Kathy Bright Post author

    Thanks AnnMarie! I haven’t read “God Gave us Christmas”. Sounds like a great resource!

    Your experience is one of the reasons I think it’s important to talk with our kids about Santa whether or not the Santa traditions are celebrated in the home. Our kids are going to hear about him and it’s hard for them not to believe when so many kids do. Actually, it’s a good introduction to the dynamic they’ll face all their lives! My daughter actually decided she wanted to believe in Santa, even when we made it clear he isn’t real. We were always very clear that he’s make believe and eventually she decided she didn’t believe he’s real. The process was a good one for her!

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