Its the Holiday Season! Decorations are up, cookies are baking, presents are being wrapped, kids are excited for Christmas to come… it really is the most wonderful time of the year.
In my family we have several Christmas time traditions. Every year we let the kids pick out a special ornament for the tree; every year we tour the neighborhoods with the best light displays, every year we learn about the season of advent, every year we spend Christmas Eve at an intimate service at our church… and every year the kids go see Santa Claus , sit on his lap and tell him want they want for Christmas. My kids believe in Santa and still manage to learn about God’s perfect Christmas gift to the world at the same time.
Recently, after having posted the annual picture of the kiddos and the man in the big red suit on facebook, I was asked how my husband and I “explain Santa to the kids without distracting from Jesus or lying to them ?” I quickly typed out a little rebuttle, backing up the jolly old elf. But the more I thought about it, the more passionate I became about the subject.. and the more things I thought up that I wished I had said. So dear blog friends, you get to hear what I like to call the “Santafesto.”
** On Balancing Jesus birth with SantaFirst of all, You can downplay Santa a little by having him only give one special gift and fill the Christmas stockings. Any additional gifts can be from mom and dad or brother and sister.
Next, the years a child believes in Santa are short… 5 to 8 years is usually it. In most of those years its hard for a kid to think abstractly and to understand the concept of an omnipotent, omnipresent, God who is always there but we cannot see. However, thanks to the over commercialization of Christmas, Santa is seen everywhere.. on tv, at the mall, in books, on toys… ect. The Santa tradition includes some Godlike traits like omnipotence, and omnipresence. A child has an easier grasp learning these traits in regards to Santa who they see everywhere… and then as parents we can use a child’s understanding of Santa as a tool to help explain God.. and that God is even bigger and better than Santa.
We can also use Santa to show how we should be selfless, and giving to others at Christmastime as well as all through the year. Santa exemplifies how Christ would like us all to be; Joyful, warm hearted, generous, not self serving. These are all important traits that Christians should exude.
Finally for the Jesus/ Santa balance issue- If you are raising your kids to learn about Jesus all year long, then Santa is not going to over shadow that at Christmastime. My family goes to church every Sunday and regularly through out the week discuss, read about, and pray to Jesus. My kids know that the only reason there is Christmas is because Jesus was born, and Santa doesn’t take that away.
*** On telling your kids that Santa is real is lying:
I don’t know if this is trendy to shun Santa because people don’t want to “lie” to their children or what.. but I think this reason is absolutely ridiculous. Lets face it, “lying” to your kids is a part of parenting. Think about how many times you say something like , ” Clean your room, or I am going to through all your toys way, ” knowing that you have no intention what so ever to do that. Or have you ever said, “if you don’t take a bath, your dirty toes will turn green and fall off?” No? You don’t say things like that, its just me??? Okay.. Well then what if you and your spouse are being intimate and your child walks in and says, ” Daddy, what are you doing to mommy?” I am pretty sure you are not going to tell the truth.. you are going to lie and say, “Daddy’s just popping mommy’s back”. Or what if you take your kids to Disneyland and your little girl is so excited to meet Cinderella, would it be good parenting to tell her, “Don’t be so excited, Cinderella isn’t real, its just an ex-stripper wearing a costume.” Even if that is the TRUTH? I think that the truth is letting your child partake in one of the most magical traditions in our culture should not be thought of as lying, its more like allowing your child to be a child, and to enjoy the innocent wonder of childhood.
When I look back on my childhood and Christmas.. the years that Santa was real to me were the very best. There is nothing more exciting than running down stairs on Christmas morning and seeing that “Santa came!” If you remember those magical Santa years as fondly as I do, why would you want to with hold that magic from your own child?
The Santa decision is yours as a parent to make. But I think the big guy from the North Pole sometimes gets an unfair bad rap. Its not Santa’s fault Christmas has become a materialistic frenzy, lets blame the heavy marketing from CEO’s trying to boost their year end profits for that. Its not Santa’s fault if he outshines Jesus.. that would be our fault –if we are not emphasizing Jesus all year through, Santa is bound to outshine, but if we focus on Jesus all year there is no way that Santa can outshine Him.