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“What is Santa going to bring you?”
Strangers often ask this question of little kids in December, or its post-yule follow up, “what did Santa bring you?” It’s an easy conversation starter, and a fun way to get a cute grin and a shy word or two from a precious little one, but does it put too much focus on the big guy?
Are we making Santa Claus the focus of our holiday rather than our Savior, Jesus?
Some have suggested that the solution to this is to do away with Santa Claus.
Should Christians stop the Santa game?
Their arguments are pretty valid:
- If your children believe that Santa can give them everything they want, what do they need God for?
- When they find out the truth about Santa, they may think you have lied about other things as well. What if they think you’re lying about God?
- Spending so much of our time, effort, and thoughts in December on the red guy leaves less time, energy, and thought for Jesus.
I want to briefly address those arguments.
1) If your children believe Santa can give them everything they want, what do they need God for? Well, our children don’t believe Santa can give them everything. He doesn’t give them love, or protection. He can’t fix their hurting hearts or help them solve conflicts. He doesn’t give them wisdom or direction. I hope my children have greater desires than toys. In fact, I know they do, because they are human. Only God can soothe the human condition. Only Jesus can save us from our sins. We teach this all year long. A few weeks of wishing for toys from an imaginary man isn’t going to undo God’s good–what a small God he would be if it could!
2)When they find out the truth about Santa, they will think you lied about other things, maybe even God. Children at age 3, developmentally speaking, should be able to distinguish between “real” and “imaginary” just based on their experience with the world. Chances are, they understand the truth more than you think. I mean, a fat guy flying through the sky and slipping down the chimney to leave me presents? C’mon. Really? Small children probably understand that Santa is not real whether we tell them or not. Just ask my 5 year old.
I hardly remember the years when I actually thought he was real. (Did I ever?) It’s a game of make-believe/pretend, like fairies and imaginary dragons to defeat!
I understood when my parents were playing make-believe. Pretending is not the same as lying. If your father hits you with a foam sword and says “Oh no! Your arm got cut off! We better glue it back on.” You don’t doubt his ability to administer first aid. If our children’s faith in us and in God is so easily shattered, well, we’ve got bigger problems than Santa.
3) Spending so much of our time, effort, and thoughts in December on the red guy leaves less time, energy, and thought for Jesus. The way we use our time and energy is one of our greatest challenges. In my ebook Prepare Him Room, I outline the way my family finds Jesus in everything from the decorations we put up, to the cookies we bake and the driving around looking at lights. I determined that all our traditions should point to Him, and made every effort to do just that.
Still, compeled by the fear within those arguments, I considered:
What would a Christmas morning look like without Santa Claus?
I suppose, we would calmly get up, eat a breakfast, maybe open our presents to each other. I really don’t know. We would probably find some other tradition to fill the void. Some do a birthday party for Jesus, but I have never liked that idea. Jesus didn’t begin at his birth–He was there before the world began. Birthday parties are for numbering our years here on earth. He is not here in human form anymore. He is everlasting. A birthday party seems strange to me. (But if that’s your thing, do your thing!)
I suppose Christmas without Santa would be more peaceful.
What is the point of Santa Claus?
Do you remember being a kid on Christmas morning? There are a few specific presents I remember–the ones that were too good to be true, or the ones that I had anticipated the most. In my childhood home, the Santa Claus tradition went on regardless of “believing” in Santa. It was a game that went on as long as their were children (of any age) at home.
I remember the feeling I had every single Christmas Eve, from my childhood until I became a mother and the tradition passed to me. I remember going to bed with a tickly feeling of excitement in my tummy.
Tomorrow is CHRISTMAS!
What would we find? Would it be magical and amazing?
We want our kids to have that same experience.
We want their eyes to pop open on Christmas morning! We want to watch as they look, wide-eyed, at all the gifts they’ve recieved and wonder how it is all possible when it seems too good to be true.
They know they don’t deserve it. They know they haven’t really been “good” all year. And yet, here is all this abundance lavished on them. They know they are loved.
THIS is what Santa Claus is for. It creates an emotional memory to draw on.
As an adult, there is nothing that can create that same feeling in me, but I can remember it from my childhood. You all know the expression “it was like Christmas morning.” What would that mean without Santa Claus?
And here’s the kicker.
It’s what Christmas is all about.
We recieve a gift that seems too good to be true. We know we don’t deserve it. We know we haven’t been good enough. And yet, here is all this abundant love lavished on us in the form of a Savior!
Oh praise Him! How loved we are!
Because I have had a Christmas morning experience, I can begin to understand how I should feel about the Gift of All Mankind. That’s something I am not ashamed to pass on to my children.
You may also enjoy: Should You Give Your Kids Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh for Christmas? to learn how we celebrate Jesus in the gifts we give each other too!