December 3, 2011 by eric echols
It’s that time of year…time when many parents struggle with what to tell their kids about Santa. Honestly, my wife and I wrestled with what we were going to do about Santa at the beginning of our parenting journey. When our first child was born, people offered all kinds of advice: some said we should reject any notion of Santa (beware because if you just switch a couple of letters you’ll have Satan in your chimney) while others said we should totally embrace Santa because it’s no big deal (as a bonus your kids will be good for goodness sake because he knows if they’ve been bad or good). What’s a parent to do?
In a 2010 article from the Washington Post, Mark Driscoll explains that Christian parents can either reject Santa, receive him, or redeem him. Given all the opinions about what Christian parents should or shouldn’t do about Santa, I think my wife and I are at a pretty good place with our three elementary age kids.
WE MAKE MUCH OF CHRIST
First, for us Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. Our priority is to celebrate that God became a man so that he could redeem the world. We use Christmas to make much of Christ & bring glory to Him.
We find creative ways to use the traditional symbols of Christmas (tree, stars, angels, and gift giving) to point our kids to the true Christmas story. We read the birth narratives from our Children’s Bible. We get our kids involved in giving to those in need and talk about how Jesus is a gift for us and how we can share his love with others. On Christmas Day, we have a tradition of baking cupcakes to celebrate Jesus’ birthday. Each of our kids receive three gifts from us similar to the way Jesus received three gifts from the wise men (if only their grandparents would stick to the three gift rule…but that’s for another post!).
These are just a few of the ways we keep Jesus central at our house during Christmas. The point is to make the Christmas traditions meaningful and point them back to their real meaning.
WE MAKE LITTLE OF THE TRADITIONAL SANTA
Second, we treat the traditional Santa in the red suit, flying reindeer, and letters to the North Pole the same way we treat any other pretend character…we enjoy them for what they are and make little of them. We have told our kids the truth about Santa from the beginning but also encourage them to have fun with the traditions (despite what our fundamentalist friends tell us, Jesus isn’t against us having fun).
Our kids watch Christmas shows on ABC family and even sit in Santa’s lap for a picture if they want to. We have taught our kids that Santa Claus is a fun, fictional tradition at Christmas that is based on a real person.
The fictional character, Santa Claus, is based on the historical person, Nicholas, who was the Bishop of Myra. Tradition tells us that Nicholas was so inspired by Christ’s words to “sell all you have and give to the poor” (Luke 18.22) that he used his vast wealth to give anonymous gifts to the poor.
Driscoll concludes his article with this, “In sum, Saint Nick was a wonderful man who loved and served Jesus faithfully. So, we gladly include him in our Christmas traditions to remind us of what it looks like for someone to live a life of devotion to Jesus as God. Our kids thank us for being both honest and fun, which we think is what Jesus wants.”
At the end of the day, we want our kids to have enjoy the festivities of Christmas but we want them to make MUCH of the Christ of Christmas.
How do you deal with Santa in your family?