**Warning: Hot Topic Ahead**
The photo taken by Grzegorz Łobiński for MerryRibbon eCards. Shared under a Creative Commons license.
We do Santa at our house. There. I said it. Feel free to throw stones or think I’m a horrible Christian.
I know this causes a LOT of conflict within the Christian community. It’s a very divisive topic.
I admit, I had so many mixed feelings when we got to the stage where we had to make the Santa decision. I went through a lot of inner turmoil. I asked myself questions like:
- Isn’t that taking the focus off of Jesus?
- Is lying to our children about the reality of Santa destructive?
- If they believe in Santa then later discover the truth, will they also doubt the reality of Jesus?
In the end, we decided to do Santa for several reasons:
Reason #1: Traditions bring families together.
Both The Husband and I have fond memories of Christmas mornings. For many years, my sisters and I slept together on Christmas Eve, woke up at the crack of dawn and jumped into our sleepy parents’ bed to wake them. Mom and Dad would go ahead of us into the living room and Dad would usually exclaim: “Aw…looks like Santa didn’t come this year!” We would giggle, then walk together down the hall with our eyes covered until we reached the tree.
You see, it wasn’t the gifts that I remember so well, but it was the tradition and feeling of family togetherness that has remained with me through the years.
Reason #2: To avoid bitterness.
Quite frankly, I know some adults who didn’t grow up with Santa visits and they are bitter to this day. As children, they were constantly dodging questions about Santa. They had to answer carefully when the topic came up among friends (and they made quite a few friends mad when they answered truthfully). The bottom line was they felt like they missed out on a part of their childhood and a shared cultural experience.
You could argue that we, as Christians, should reject culture and to some extent I might agree. But think of it this way: art is part of culture. The Israelites used art to create the golden calf that was worshipped in the wilderness, but art was also used to build the temple that was used to worship our Creator. Therefore, I would argue that it is how art (or other cultural aspects) is used that determines whether it is good or bad. Like a good lawyer, we must always look for intent.
When we play Santa at our house, the intent is not to worship a mythical guy in a red suit or to take our focus off of the real meaning behind Christmas. Our intent is to have fun with our children. In the same way, when we bake a cake, gather friends, sing and bring gifts to our daughters on their birthdays, it is not to worship them or to exalt them. Our intent is just to be thankful that God has given us another year to share together.
Reason #3: Fiction is Fiction
I had a friend whose ultra-conservative Christian mother forbid her kids to watch the Smurfs (because Gargamel was a wizard) and He-Man (because there was only one “Master of the Universe” and it wasn’t that guy) or Scooby-Doo (not sure why…probably because Shaggy would make them want to become dope smokers). I watched all those “evil” cartoons and I even grew up to become a big fan of the *gasp!* Harry Potter books. None of those things negatively influenced my faith because I understand that cartoons are not real.
Similarly, I learned that Santa was not real in second grade when I heard my parents putting together gifts. One of my biggest concerns when deciding whether or not to play the Santa game was the question, “If they believe in Santa then later discover the truth, will they also doubt the reality of Jesus?” I asked myself, “Did I ever doubt Jesus?” Of course I did…but never because of Santa Clause and never as a child. I also never trusted my parents less after the Santa secret was spilled.
Even though we decided to do Santa, we still set some guidelines:
- We never lie to our kids. When they say “So-and-so said that Santa is not real, ” I will answer, “Well, what do you think?” They always say “yes” and I just shrug my shoulders. We have never done the “Easter Bunny” but we did do the “Tooth Fairy” on a moderate scale. When my daughter asked if I was the Tooth Fairy, I said “Yes.” I will do the same for Santa. (My oldest knows the truth; my youngest acts like she doesn’t, but I think it’s just because she wants the tradition to continue. She was the one who busted the Tooth Fairy.) 🙂
- Santa brings small gifts. Really, our kids just get some stocking stuffers and a small something-or-another. We try to limit gift-giving overall–from Santa or otherwise–but if they do get something of substance (say a telescope), it would come from mom and dad. Our kids have never gotten more than three gifts from us–if it was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for them! 😉
- Santa is an after-thought. We focus on the reason for the season (yep, I just shamelessly used that cliché!). I always knew what Christmas was really about Jesus; my kids do too. Santa is not the centerpiece of our celebration.
I know that many of you will disagree with our decision to play Santa. That’s okay. I understand. However, I don’t begrudge you for choosing not to do the Santa-thing. I like what Brian Dembowczyk said on the ParentLife blog this week…
“…let’s extend grace to one another. The unity of the church should be strong enough to withstand a man in a red suit.”
So tell me, where do you fall in the great Santa debate? What choice did your family make and why?