Saturday, December 12, 2009

To Santa or Not to Santa?

Ethan's wish list for Santa...

1. Thomas
2. Mario
3. Puzzles
4. Cup/Spoons (this one made me laugh!)
5. Crayons (David had to tell me what this looks like URQHONS)

Ethan & Santa....Ethan complimented him on his glasses several

Santa or No Santa????

This is a question that seems to come up every year since we had Ethan. It hasn't really been an issue since he has been too young to really understand. But now that he is 3, he's really at the age where we needed to make a decision about this issue of Santa or no Santa.

Growing up my parents told us that Santa was coming. They wrote "To: Lisa From: Santa" on all of my gifts. But I think I always knew it was just a cute game we played. I don't ever remember really believing that Santa was real (just like I didn't believe Big Bird was real) .....correct me if I'm wrong, Mom!

My parents were able to achieve what I really hope I am able to achieve: BALANCE.

I absolutely 100% understood the reason we celebrated Christmas. At my grandmother's house there was a nativity scene set up and Christmas morning we would place baby Jesus in the manger. We would have a birthday cake for Jesus and we had all the Christmas songs about Jesus' birth memorized. As a kindergartner I memorized most of Luke Chapter 2. We would read it every Christmas. We would participate in our church's Christmas cantata and I even played the part of Mary on several occasions. This was the focus of Christmas. My parents put great emphasis on Jesus as the real reason we celebrate Christmas. They also taught us a lot about giving. My mother is one of the most giving people you will ever meet. Something that has stayed with me for most of my life (and hopefully mom won't mind me sharing this!) is what my mom did when I was about 12 years old. My mom got a $500 Christmas bonus from her boss. That particular Christmas there was a family at our church that was having a difficult time financially. My mom sat me down and told me that there was a family that wasn't going to have Christmas gifts. She said it was time to go shopping. We went all over the place buying gifts for the entire family. Clothes, toys, and other fun things for every member of the family. All I could think about was how excited I was to see their faces when they opened all of their gifts! We took them home and spent the afternoon wrapping all of their gifts. But my mom had a different plan than what I was expecting. She wasn't doing this for her own glory. She was doing it for the Lord....for His glory. We took all the gifts to the Associate Pastor and asked them to drop them by the people's house on Christmas Day. Mom made him promise not to tell them who they were from.....and she made me promise too. To this day they have no idea that the Lord used my mom to bless them. I will NEVER forget it.

I grew up enjoying the excitement of Santa and his reindeer, stories of Rudolph, and lots of Christmas presents. But what I remember most is the story of a Savior who was born to save the world. I remember the importance of giving to those in need. I remember great times with my family that I will cherish forever. These are the things I want to share with Ethan. I think we all need to learn balance.

This is a great article I read online about Santa and Christianity if you can take a moment to read it...

To Santa or Not to Santa...

There you are...the Christmas Spirit is in the air, you are shopping, you are getting ready to bake Christmas cookies with your little one, and you bask in the glow of the beautifully lit Christmas tree. The doorbell rings, and there are your friends, your religious friends, with their golden-haired offspring, ready for the playdate. You can tell something is wrong, and once the kids are occupied, your friends, your religious friends, sit you down for a talk. In no time flat, a Bible is produced and you are shown that you are putting your child in danger of the fires of hell, and you yourself are perilously close to having an appointment for a weenie-roast with the anti-Christ yourself. Santa Claus and the other trappings of Christmas, you are told, are pure evil, Pagan lore, and a sly ploy to lure the innocents away from God.

You are polite and you don't show your friends, your religious friends, the door. You offer cookies, but at the withering looks your reindeer cookies earn, you sit down quickly. In the pit of your stomach there is some doubt beginning to gnaw, after all, Christmas is Jesus' birthday, and there was no gastricly challenged man in a red suit anywhere near that manger. Additionally, you feel funny about convincing your kids about Santa anyways, because you realize that the lengths to which you must go to continue this belief become more elaborate by the year. At the same time, you remember your in-laws who rented the Santa costume already, and you know that grandpa is ready to play Santa for the kid when you come over.

With your friends, your religious friends, disapprovingly looking at you, and with the Bible on the coffee table all but accusingly pointing at you, and with your child, whom you love more than life itself, in the next room, you are questioning everything you hold dear, and the Christmas Spirit is threatening to disappear. What is the Christian parent to do?

I am glad you asked. First of all, thank your friends, your religious friends, for their advice. Offer them some non-offensive cookies, make it through the afternoon, and then angelically wave good-bye as they and their golden-haired offspring depart at the end of the playdate. Next, bake some cookies with your child, have some fun, write some Christmas cards, and once your young one is tucked into bed, get out your Bible and let's take a look at what it really says:

Santa Claus equals Satan Claus

Your religious friends may have made this point. They are not alone! Dial-the-Truth Ministries states in an article by Terry Watkins: "You ever noticed how easy it is to transform "Satan" from "Santa"? Just move the "n" to the end.

Continuing in this vein, the author quotes Psalm 99:3 in support for the supposition that: "Our English words "saint, sanctify, et al" comes from "santa". Sounds like Satan's "I will be like the most High" plan is at it again."

So, does your affection for Santa Claus cookies transform you into a spawn of Satan? No. Let's get real: anagrams are a lot of fun (and a great way to keep the kids occupied in the back of the car while traveling), but when seeking to rest your faith and theology on anagrams, you will find yourself on shifting sand (not rock). And we all know that the wise man built his house on the rock. Still not convinced? Ok, at the risk of sounding blasphemous to your religious friends, what is the anagram of "God"? See? Not a good thing to base theology on.

Lying to your Children about Santa will make them question the Veracity of God

This is a big one. No Christian parent wants to be a stumbling block to their child's budding faith. On the other hand, will theSanta Claus story truly prejudice a child to disbelieve in God? The answer is a resounding "maybe." Not what you were hoping for, but truth be told, it is quite possible that a child will learn to distrust a parent when s/he realizes that a story mom or dad staunchly held to be the truth, suddenly turns out to be a lie. Additionally, it is quite possible that a child may be angered by this deceit and by being led on. On the other hand, when children view the average television fare these days, they see the folks dressing up asSanta Claus, and somewhere along the way the kids are able to make the connection pretty early on.

Santa Claus is an Example of the Paganization of the Holiday

Bad news for your religious friends here: Christmas is a holiday born of Pagan lore. Sometime around 10-4 BC, probably on the evening of the Feast of Tabernacles (October), in a stable where Passover lambs were raised in the city of the shepherd David, a boy was born to a virgin who was descended from said shepherd. At an angel's command, the boy was named Jesus. It is fairly well established that Jesus was not actually born on December 25, but that this date coincides with the old Roman Calendar's feast of Dies Natalis Invicti Solis -- the Day of the Birth of the Unconquered Sun (Saturn), which incidentally coincides with the Winter Solstice. The Roman church chose to celebrate the birthday of Christ on 12/25, thus mixing the age old pagan traditions with the relatively new Christianity as a way of 'converting' souls to Christ, and making the celebration more palatable to the pagans. As you can see, Christmas was never a purely Christian holiday to begin with.

Seeing Red?

By now you are probably wringing your hands. Whoever claimed parenting was easy? Here are some suggestions:

1.Only you know your child; I don't, and neither do your religious friends. God gave you the privilege and obligation to raise your child. It is your duty to train your child in the way s/he should go, so that when s/he is old, s/he will not depart from it. It is up to you to impress God's commands on your child and to talk to your offspring about God at home, on the way to the grocery store, while waiting at the doctor's office... (Deuteronomy 6:5-7). Ask yourself, would telling your child thatSanta Claus is real jive with these Scriptures? Would it cause problems for your child, in keeping with the warning of Matthew 18:6?

2. If you do decide to tell your child that Santa Claus is real, don't go the n-th degree to keep this belief alive. A child should be able to overcome a little disappointment relatively unscathed if they find out that this is a game that adults play, but if the lie is kept going with more and more elaborate schemes and protestations, there will possibly be a backlash.

3. So you have told your child Santa was real but s/he is beginning to question the story and now you want to "fess up" ... but you are biting your nails and dreading the talk. Don't; instead, simply tell junior that when s/he was little, s/he loved to play "pretend" and "dress up." Explain that when s/he was little, s/he enjoyed pretending thatSanta Claus was real, and that adults love to play "pretend" and "dress up" for the Christmas holidays. Tell your little one that s/he already knows that Christmas is really a celebration of Jesus' birthday, and that folks everywhere have invented fun ways of celebrating this wonderful day. So yes,Santa Claus is not actually a real person, but he represents the things that are good and worthy, such as kindness, generosity, and fun...just like God.

4. Instead of saying that Santa is real, just tell your child that adults like to play "dress up" during Christmas, and like to play "pretend" with kids. Explain that Santa is not real, but just a fun game we play during the holidays. You can still have pictures taken with Santa (it's ok for junior to know that it's just someone playing the part), bake Santa cookies, and have Santa Christmas cards. I can tell you from personal experience that children love to be included in the grown-up game of "Santa" and will love to "pretend" to believe Santa is real.

Still wondering what to do? Easy! Read your Bible and pray. Understand the full impact of Deuteronomy 6 and Matthew 18, and then decide for yourself how to best parent your child with respect to theSanta Claus persona. Personally, I choose door number four.


  1. I grew up in a very similiar situation (obviously!), and that is how I raised Madison...knowing both Santa and the real meaning of Christmas. When Damian and I began dating & considering marriage that is one of the really big issues we had to compromise on: 1. If we would celebrate Christmas (because as the article says it was actually derived from a pagean holiday.) and 2. If we chose to celebrate Christmas, how we would celebrate, and what traditions we would continue.

    We have chosen to shy away from Santa...mainly because he felt so strongly against it, and I don't feel like Madi would be "missing out" on anything by not celebrating santa. I don't want to sound like he gave an order...I just chose my battle :) I would say the hardest part, is keeping Madi from telling other kids. (Then again, Heather told me in Kindergarten.)

    Good article though...and to sum it up...there is no right or wrong answer.

    CUTE PICTURES, and LOVED the Christmast list!

  2. First of all, I am so impressed with Ethan's writing! He did a great job making that list at age 3! How cute, you will have to save that forever.:)

    That was a good, informative article. Growing up, my parents never really implied that Santa was real, so as we got older we just figured it our for ourselves, and my mom said he was part of a happy story like so many other characters. We have carried that on to our kids for the most part, and currently I think our 3 year-old might believe, but our 5 year old does not. However you go about it, I think definitely the most important thing is teaching the real meaning of Christmas. We still get their photo with Santa for fun and watch all the Christmas movies, but just don't focus on it so much. I think it's a matter of personal choice for every family. I hope you have a great Christmas however you decide to proceed!:)

  3. Good article, except that the story of Santa Claus is actually based on a real person who went around giving to those who didn't have. We "don't celebrate Santa." That's what we tell our kids. "We celebrate Jesus." Every year we read the story of the birth of Jesus and we also read the story of Santa Claus. We discuss with the kids how Santa Claus was doing what Jesus asks us all to do and that he is a figure of Christmas, but not something that we celebrate. We also discuss what we can do to be more like Jesus. I agree with Stephanie, there is no right or wrong answer. I am sometimes afraid that my kids will tell someone that Santa isn't real, but then again people tell my kids all the time to be good or they won't get anything from Santa. So I don't stress out about it any more. Garrett actually is really good, he tells people that we only celebrate Jesus, we don't celebrate Santa. Ryan doesn't care what we say, she thinks he's real. The twins don't really get it yet. They know Santa if they see him, but they don't get the whole "Santa brings presents thing" because he's never brought them presents.

    I like option four, it's a good compromise!

  4. I am so glad that you did some research after the discussion that we had about this on Thursday night! I am always so torn about this one. I 110% believed in Santa as a kid and love those memories. But after talking to everyone about it on Thursday I realized that Christmas can be about other traditions that don't include Santa and it will still create a fun and exciting time for the girls. No Santa is not going to be the end of their world because they will have no idea what they are "missing". I like option 4 too. I think that's a good way of explaining it to little ones. And if they tell other kids....they tell other kids. Like Jonathan said on Thursday-we are responsible for raising our own kid and helping to shape THEM into who God wants them to be.