I’m not a killjoy. If you love Santa, believe in Santa, and want to perpetuate the myth that a jolly fat man dressed in red comes down the chimney on Christmas Eve to leave presents (at every house in the world, all at the same time) I am not here to take all that away from you. I promise.
It’s just that sometimes I meet young Christian parents who aren’t sure about it all. Should we tell our kids that Santa isn’t real, and ruin all the fun? Or should we just go along with it, following the traditions that many of us grew up with. I mean, what does it hurt, right?
If you’re a die-hard Santa fan, you can stop reading right now and go read a story about him to your kids– it’s okay, really. We’re still friends, and I love you.
But if you’ve wondered or wavered or wondered about this particular topic, I have some thoughts to share with you.
Let me start by saying that the premise of Santa Claus started with a real man. You probably know that he was a historic 4th-century Christian known as Nikolaos of Myra. He was Bishop of Myra in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey), and many miracles were attributed to him. He also had a reputation for secret gift-giving, which is where it all started.
Jesus Is Not a Myth
When my sons were little, we told them about St. Nicholas. We even had a great story book about him (there are lots available, here’s one: The Legend of St. Nicholas). We told them that the idea of Santa Claus came from this good, Christian man, but had changed some over the years, leaving God out of the picture (and actually, sort of making Santa Claus himself into a supernatural being with god-like qualities).
The reason their father and I decided to do this was two-fold. First, it seemed like lying. If we told them Santa is real, then later said, “Just kidding! He’s a myth,” what about when we told them Jesus is real? Would they think we're just kidding about that too? That thought horrifies me to this day. It seemed like we’d be setting them up to doubt everything that’s really true about Jesus. He is not a myth!
I once read in a book, “People seem to be split into two camps at Christmas time – those who believed in the myth of Santa, the other who believe in the myth of Jesus.” Wow. There’s just no way I wanted to lead my kids into that trap. We wanted to be clear about what is myth and what is truth.
The second reason we told them Santa was a myth is that whole naughty-nice, gift-giving thing. We believe in God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8) – that we didn’t get saved by earning and deserving, God doesn’t love us based on what we do but rather who we are (unconditional love), and it’s the same with mom and dad. We don’t love you more because you were nice and not naughty. We taught our kids that Christians do good to please God, not to get presents.
I could go on and on about this point, but that’s another blog. You get the point.
Santa is not Satan Spelled Sideways!
Now let me add that all this talk about St. Nicholas and Santa and Jesus was very low-key at our house. We didn’t get out our Bibles and thump them, declaring loudly that Santa was a plot of the devil and anyone who had his picture up at or even spoke his name was a blasphemer.
For one thing, we didn’t want to make that big a deal about it, causing our kids to focus in on Santa! For another thing, we didn’t want to take all the fun out of Christmas. I think if we take too much fun away from kids, they think Christianity is boring, bondage and a bummer -- and that’s the furthest thing from the truth!
Once our kids knew the truth about Santa, we weren’t at all worried about him. We’d be driving down the street, see a Santa ringing a bell at a store, and say, “Hey, there’s one of those guys dressed up like a Santa! Cool!”
And yes, Virginia, we even watched movies with Santa in them (gasp, I know). That way we didn’t have to cover their eyes and ears around non-believers if a Santa went by, and we didn’t alienate ourselves from people but kept the door open to talk about Jesus.
So that’s one mom’s take on the whole Santa thing. The true, real, and wonderful story of Christmas is the greatest story ever told – Jesus came to earth because He loved us and was God’s plan to save us. There’s no need to embellish the story! I pray that you and yours have a peace-filled, love-filled, fun-filled, truth-filled Christmas…
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