I hate to be a killjoy, really I do. And if you are going to read the rest of this post you must know something: this is a no-judgment zone. If your family does Santa and has loved that tradition then I say GREAT! Keep it going! You do you!
But I hope you can extend the same grace in return and not take anything in this post personally. This isn’t a persuasive post, it is a simple declarative one, so let’s all just get along and enjoy the ride, shall we?
Now, I did a little research on how others view the whole Santa debate (yes, it is a debate). Here are some of my favorite pics:
My BLBPHH (boyfriend-lover-best friend-priest-homie-husband) and I decided when our oldest (now 17) was around 1 that we would no longer participate in the tradition of Santa. Here’s why:
IT’S A LIE
I mean, I don’t know how else to put it. Santa isn’t real. Every time I told my one-year-old anything about Santa being an actual guy who brought her gifts I felt convicted. Flying reindeer are a lie. Taking presents to kids all over the world? Lie. Squeezing down the chimney and living in the North Pole and Mrs. Claus? Ain’t true. We are called to walk in the truth and for me and my house that meant not talking about Santa like he was real. We spoke (and speak) of the historical figure who was generous and kind to children. But that jolly fat guy in the red suit singing, “Ho, ho, ho” and living with elves? Nah.
And what happens to my credibility as a truthful parent when they find out the truth (and we do call it the “truth about Santa” when they make that discovery. Why is it the truth then but “fun” before?). Now, I do believe that children hold a special wonderment at Christmas, but my husband and I wanted them to marvel at the birth of Christ, to be impressed with His generosity: not just of gifts but of Himself. So we chose to drop the Santa thing.
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE FAITH OF MY KIDS WHEN THEY FIND OUT SANTA ISN’T REAL? IS JESUS REAL? HE’S INVISIBLE, TOO.
The Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, Great Pumpkin and Santa are all out of sight, basically invisible, right? I mean, our kids never ACTUALLY see the real thing (even the Santas at the mall aren’t the actual dude who will be coming by to drop off the presents-he’s Santa’s helper, right?).
Isn’t Jesus invisible, too?
How can I expect the mind of my child to differentiate between the Tooth Fairy (who is good, generous, thoughtful and invisible) not being real but Jesus (who is also good, generous, thoughtful and invisible) to be real? It just wasn’t a road we were willing to travel down.
JESUS CAME TO SAVE US ON CHRISTMAS. HE DESERVES ALL THE ATTENTION, CREDIT AND GLORY FOR EVERY ORNAMENT, WREATH, COOKIE AND PRESENT.
To us, a guy who is solely interested in our children’s good behavior so they can get the material things they want or need is a cheap version of what Christmas is all about. Christmas is about how Christ came to live a perfect life and die a criminal’s death so our souls could be saved. He gave up the glory of heaven to live among the filth of humanity BECAUSE HE SOUGHT TO GLORIFY GOD IN THE HIGHEST and because HE ADORED US. He is the greatest Gift and the greatest Giver. He, a zillionaire, chose to be born into abject poverty, the gifts the wise men brought were symbols of his life, death, resurrection and position in heaven and the shepherds were on the scene because they represented those too dirty to be with others. Outcasts from the community. The angels appeared to make our jaws drop and let us know what real joy looks like. And, oh yeah, they also gave us an idea of what the armies of heaven were n all their splendor and gave us a foreshadowing of how this whole thing is going to end- with the Lord of Those Armies wrecking shop on Judgment Day. Christmas is a day that grace was born and the works of Satan were scheduled for destruction.
We just didn’t want our kids distracted from these facts.
For one, their souls hung in the balance. Two, we found that if the primary focus was not on the Christ of Christmas but on toys and being good, in the mind of our little child Santa was so much more appealing than Jesus. I mean, if you’re a kid do you really care about a baby born in a barn? 2,000 years ago? Wrapped in some rags? Somewhere in the Middle East? With weird guys in robes bringing weird gifts and shepherds (where the heck did they come from anyway?!?) bringing some sheep to stare at Him under a spotlight? No way! If you’re a kid you want the guy in the shiny suit who just expects you to say please and thank you and not punch your sister. Who lives in a Candyland eating cookies with the cool flying reindeer WHO BRINGS YOU LEGOS AND BARBIES AND FOOTBALLS AND AMERICAN GIRLS! Yeah! Seriously, my husband and I just found it much easier to teach the integrity of the manger and the majesty of God when toys and their behavior were secondary to the fact that they were sinners in need of a Savior and He gave up everything to get them on Christmas.
Basically, we don’t think anything should be given room to compete for the meaning of Christmas in the minds of our kids.
And on a more personal note, I gave my life to Christ around the time my daughter was one. I was so broken by the blessing of being His beloved I couldn’t bear sharing the glory of God’s birthday with anyone else. Christmas was about Jesus and Jesus alone. Period.
Some Tips on Managing the Dangers
Even though Santa was not a tradition we followed, basically every one else in our kids’ lives did, so the question of how to handle this in the mind of our young ones (especially when they were really little like preschool and kindergarten) when all of their friends were asking them about Santa was something that we needed to address.
Here’s how we did it:
They were not allowed to tell their friends. We were very clear that every family has their own traditions, and if the parents of their friends chose Santa for their family then amen to that! They were not to interfere. Essentially we told them (over and over), “The truth about Santa is something only parents can tell their kids. You are not allowed to share that secret with your friends. It is the parents’ job to share big news like that.”
Extended family was put in their place. We didn’t have too much trouble with our families (partly because they are so fractured and partly because they agreed with us) but I had to tell one relative who insisted on telling my kids Santa WAS real that she needed to (please) stop lying to my kids (I said this in front of my kids). I refuse to let people hijack my Christmas. Just set the boundary. I then went on to explain to my kids in private that our relative meant well, but she was misinformed. We still love her but she is wrong. Also, when folks sent gifts that said “From: Santa” I just changed the label to say “From: Jesus” or “From: Grandpa.”
We told the teachers about our decision each year. This way they were alerted to the fact that one of our kids might slip up. That happened twice and I’m so grateful we did because my youngest son’s preschool teacher was able to interrupt a conversation he was having on the playground AT A KEY MOMENT! Whew!
We coached them what to say when their friends inevitably asked, “What did you ask Santa for this Christmas?” Here were the responses we drove into them:
Just tell them what you want for Christmas.
If they ask you if you are excited to for Santa just tell the truth about how you feel. This meant the usual response was, “No.” or “Not really.” And then QUICKLY ask your friend if THEY are excited, what they want him to bring them. JUST GET THEM TALKING ABOUT HOW THEY FEEL ABOUT CHRISTMAS. When all else fails just shrug your shoulders and walk away (this tactic worked very well for my preschoolers).
So, those are our reasons for our family’s choice. Please, don’t be a hater and take our reasons personally! But I would like to encourage you that, whatever your traditions, think about them. Have intelligent reasons for doing them. Pray through them. Discuss them. And then go thoroughly enjoy your Elf-on-a-Shelf or Cookies for Santa or reading “Twas the Night Before Christmas” or watching the Nativity Story, or whatever!
What is the one Christmas tradition from your childhood that takes you back to a pure, precious place in your heart?
Please share this IF it was informative and blessed you!