Monday, December 21, 2009

Telling the Truth at Christmas (or why our children don't believe in Santa)

Yesterday's message at church really impacted me. So much that I felt the need to write a little about why we do the things we do at Christmas-time. And maybe even why we don't do some things as well. I'm not going to repeat the message that our pastor shared- which was about how the true spirit of Christmas is WORSHIP, but will say that it definitely caused me to re-evaluate where and who my focus is on this season and confirmed some of the decisions Randy and I have made over the years for our family.

And today's post is mostly about the guy in red.

I realize that probably 95% of people reading this blog may not agree with us on this and that is absolutely OK. Everyone has to make the best decisions for their family and I am just sharing the one we have made for ours concerning a very popular Christmas tradition.

So all that said, there are several reasons why our family has chosen not to include Santa Claus as a part of our Christmas celebration from the very beginning.

The first one being kind of obvious is that it is a fairy tale. Now make-believe and fairy tales are fun, but we don't ask our children to believe them do we? I don't read my kids fantasy stories like Peter Pan and The Chronicles of Narnia and tell them matter of factly "now you'd better behave because maybe Aslan will come and take you to Narnia with him tonight." I just lied to my kids. No that would be ridiculous. We read those stories because they are just that- fun fantasy stories that are fun because they aren't real!

The second reason is that it is too confusing for a little child to figure out what is make-believe and what is reality. If our Christmas celebration is really about baby Jesus, who is GOD MADE FLESH (which is a very REAL thing) then why would I want to confuse my child by asking him to figure out which parts of Christmas are truth and which parts are just make-believe? Don't we pray from the time they are tiny babies for our children to grow up with a knowledge and understanding of who God is? If so then I should try to avoid anything that would inhibit or distort that understanding.

Thirdly, if we think about all of the things parents tell their kids about Santa- it looks VERY similiar to what we are trying to teach our children all year about God. Think about it:
~Santa sees everything you do: he's omniscient
~Santa rewards you if you're good.
~Santa can be everywhere in one night: he's somewhat omnipresent
~Santa gives lots of good gifts
~Santa lives up north in a place no-one can see

But when you go a little deeper, Santa really isn't like God at all. For example the idea that Santa is watching you to see if you've been "naughty or nice" and then gives you gifts accordingly is nothing like the way God operates. God gave us the gift of his Son when we least deserved it. We could never prove ourselves good enough for the gift of salvation. Read Romans 5:8.

And what about our poor, deprived children you ask?


Our boys have grown up knowing the truth about Santa and I can positively say that there is nothing they have been "deprived" of. In fact for them to know that the few presents they do receive come from mommy and daddy who love them whether they've been good or bad- it gives them a bit more of a thankful attitude and lessens the "i'm making my wish list for Santa" self-focused mindset.

They actually think it's pretty funny that they know "the secret" about Santa Claus and have been very good sports over the years when we are around other kids or families who believe.

Speaking of that- actually in my family I grew up believing in Santa and having that be a big part of our Chrsitmas traditions. Every year we would go to Grandma and Grandpa's house on Christmas Eve and "Santa" always would show up with a sackful of presents. Everyone took turns sitting on his lap, opened the traditional gift of pajamas, and then he would leave. This has gone on for more years than I've been alive I think.

And now that our kids are the only kids left and Christmas Eve is at our house- guess who still manages to show up at our door? My boys get a kick out of watching my mom and aunts get excited about Santa coming. They asked me last year "Mom, they don't REALLY believe he's real do they?" So we all play along and continue that tradition- knowing full well that this is a fun game and it is not what Christmas is about.

So, there you go. A few reasons why we tell the truth at Christmas.

But before you go accusing me of being a boring ol scrooge, who doesn't let her kids have any fun at Christmas, stay tuned for the next post...

If not Santa, then what?

I want to share a few of our Christmas traditions that we do to keep the focus on Christ, but would also love to hear some of yours as well. If you feel like sharing, leave a comment and I will mention and link your idea in my next post. If you have no ideas or time or whatever- don't worry, remember Christ is what matters!

*** A lot of what I wrote about here is much more eloquently written by the wonderful Noel Piper in one of my favorite books Treasuring God in our Traditions. I must give her the credit for a lot of what is written in this post and I highly reccommend this wonderful book for your family.

(for clarification-that was supposed to look like a "J" for Jesus, but she turned it the other way! You get the idea still though)


Kelly said...

We have also chosen to not include Santa as part of our Christmas celebration with Briar. Glad to know we are not the only ones. :o)

Hannah said...

We do the same. I think Santa is fine and cute and a great character for cartoons. My daughter likes him a lot...but she likes Sponge Bob too. I respect my friends who do Santa and would never ruin it for them. We just choose to focus our Christmas on Christ.

Sunnymama said...

So glad there are other families out there that do not "celebrate" Santa. We, too, chose not to because of the very same reasons as your family. Thank you for posting this, it was well written and enlighten I hope for others!

Melissa said...

I grew up knowing the "truth" about husband the very opposite.
After much thought and debate (ok, maybe one conversation), we decided we would answer all questions about Santa honestly (or with another question). We also have been known to launch into an historical account of the very real Saint Nick.
We have to be careful since most of Patrick's side still safely guards the Santa-secret, but never want our kids to feel deceived.
The funny thing is---we've been telling our 6 and 4 year old for 2 years now that Santa isn't really real, and they don't believe us!

As for traditions, check out these three posts...

Leah said...

Thank you for this post! We plan to not do Santa either and a few of my friends feel the same. Since we don't have a child yet (although we will in July!!) we aren't faced with the reality of this just yet, but I SO appreciate you sharing your experience.

rachel vaughn said...

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing, we are choosing to do the same, and have had so much push back this year, it's good to know we are not alone!!!

Kara said...

I love this post. I have tried really hard this year to remind our son that Christmas is about the birth of baby Jesus. He has talked about him more than Santa so I know that he understands. When we started our adoption our SW had talked to us about Santa and how she always told her daughter that he was something that they make up to have a little fun at Christmas time. She said it was important when you adopt a child that has been institutionalized, that you don't lie to the child. Does that make sense. I think I am rambling.Anyways, I would like to let my kids in on the secret but my husband and his parents I think would think I was being cruel for not letting the fantasy go on. Merry Christmas !!

Jenny said...

i've been reading your site on and off ever since i joined the holt bbs. just wanted to thank you for your post. my son is 7 and although he's always known about santa, we've always been honest and forthright with him about it. i don't think he's missed out on anything because of it and judging from his love of Christmas, i'm pretty sure he feels the same way. :)

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