Thursday, September 15, 2011

Santa Baby

No, this isn’t really a post about Christmas. Although Hobby Lobby does already have their décor out. (Personally, I think it shouldn’t come out until after Halloween, but that’s for another time.) It’s about the man in the red suit, Santa Claus.

A couple of weeks ago, I was involved in a deep discussion on Twitter (as deep as it can get 140 characters at a time) about how/why/if different families “do” Santa. And since our perspective is a little different than others, I thought I would take the opportunity to explain it a little further. Plus, my Twitter friends asked for it. And if you haven’t figured out by now, if you ask for it, you’ll hear about it. (Maybe even if you don’t ask.)

First, let me just say this: this is just what we choose to do for our family. We don’t think anyone is bad, wrong, or evil for doing things differently.

When we got married, obviously we knew about Santa’s status (he’s not real, in case you weren’t aware.). But the difference was that I had never “believed” in Santa, whereas Husband had. We had different perspectives on the fat man, obviously, due to our different backgrounds. I never felt cheated because I didn’t believe Santa was real. Husband had pretended to believe long after he found out Santa wasn’t real for the sake of others.

My siblings and I grew up with the understanding that there were kids who believed Santa was real, and it would not be cool to ruin it for them. So we didn’t.  We also played along – “Santa” came to visit us every year during our Christmas celebration at Mimi’s house. We each sat on his knee, had pictures made, and all that jazz. (Trump usually screamed her head off while the rest of us laughed. Because we’re supportive like that.) Other than that, no one made it a big deal either way. We knew it was a fun thing to do at Christmas, but that was all.

Long ago, Husband and I made a commitment to never lie to our kids. About anything. We knew it would not be easy. We know that not all information is suitable for little ears. And that’s ok. We don’t have to give Caedmon (and soon Honor) all the information on a given subject, but telling the truth in all situations is of the utmost importance to us.

And that includes Santa. And the Easter Bunny. And Tooth Fairy. (I know…*GASP*)

There are many reasons it’s important to us to be honest with our kids. First, we expect them to be fully honest with us. We cannot expect more from our children than we expect from ourselves. And “it’s for fun” or “for their own good” are not valid reasons in our opinion.

Second, if our kids find out that we lied to them about Santa (or Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy…and they eventually would), why would they believe us when we tell them about Jesus? Santa is tangible. He’s at the mall every Christmas. You can go and sit on his lap. Talk to him. There are books. Movies. TV Shows. Culture. We even know that Santa drinks Coke. And he eats cookies and drinks milk left out for him. Still, he’s not real.

Now, let’s talk about Jesus. He’s not tangible. You can’t go and sit on his lap. You can’t talk to him face to face, hear his voice. You can read about him in the Bible. But movies, TV shows, and culture aren’t really that up on Jesus. And while I would like to imagine that Jesus would’ve been a Coke man, I can’t say that for sure. And he’s real. Very.

Third, I don’t think Santa should be used as a tool. Even as a child, I hated hearing “Santa’s watching!” as an incentive to get kids to do what they were supposed to, especially as it got closer to Christmas. As I got older, I disliked it even more. And as a parent, I hate it. I want my children to obey with a good attitude for the right reasons – not because they might not get presents because of it. It teaches conditional behavior and conditional love. Neither of which I’m a fan.

So what do we tell our kids about Santa? The truth.

The first part is making sure they know that Christmas is about Jesus’s birthday. Because if it’s about Jesus, it automatically makes Santa less important.

Even last year when Caedmon was barely three, he understood that Santa is a symbol. He reminds us of a real person who lived a long time ago that gave gifts to people. It’s fun to think about what it would be like if someone really had elves and flying reindeer and could squeeze down your chimney. And “Santa” even came to visit Caedmon last year. He loved it. We all had fun with it. But we didn’t make it into a big deal.

If Caedmon asks to go see Santa at the mall, we’ll let him. We read “’Twas The Night Before Christmas” and watch “The Polar Express” and other Christmas classics. But we don’t push Santa or his minions elves as a part of our Christmas celebration. It’s just not our thing.

So there it is. As I said, it might not be right for everybody, but that’s our philosophy. I would love to hear how your family “does” Santa.

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  1. Thank you so much for sharing, friend. :)

  2. I was never able to express myself as graciously to folks when they asked why we didn't "do" Santa when ya'll were growing up. I wish I had this blog post to give to them :-)
    One other overriding reason for not "doing" Santa in the die-hard manner - It is a logistical nightmare! Especially if you have more than one or two kids.
    I was always proud of my children for NOT stealing other people's joy in "believing" in Santa. They even learned to play along with the adults who asked, "What's Santa bringing you this year?"

  3. Great way to explain it :-) We decided similiar things with our kids; we just don't make it a big deal. Sure, we love the Santa photos - they are classic - but we want our kids to understand the real reason behind the season. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I like this - Matt and I agree with this

  5. I'm glad to know we're not the only ones who feel this way. Not that I need people to agree with me, but sometimes it helps. ;)

  6. We debated and debated about this topic too. We do let Anniston believe in Santa, but not in the traditional way. We present Santa as a servant of Christ. We also aren't saying nessarily that Santa is a physical being, more of a spirit of giving. Anyone can be Santa, if they are being a servant of Christ and giving from the heart. Anniston (when she's old enough to understand) will know that the mall Santa's aren't real, but I'm sure we'll still have our picture taken with them, just for fun!

    Now as for the the other characters, we don't participate in those at all. For the life of me, I had no way to tie a bunny back to Christ, therefore we don't participate in those! :)

    :) Thanks for sharing!

  7. Agree with you 100%! And I have some issue with telling our kids that this big nice guy knows everything you are doing, and you'd better be good so you can get presents. Oh, and Jesus knows everything you're doing too. Do we have to be really good to please Him too? Free gift? Anyway, thanks for sharing. :-)

  8. We do it the same way for the same reasons. There are a couple of good books. I don't know the names right off hand but one was bought at Lifeway about the meaning of Christmas and the other one was about the "real" saint nicholas as there was a real one. We started reading that one after the kids wanted to know who came up with the name Santa. Now last year we did get an Elf on the Shelf for pure fun (don't know why but an age thing) that has nothing to do with gifts, but our youngest child is really having fun with Elfy (his name). I am always afraid that I'm messing up my children, so I'm in prayer so often asking for God to help guide me through this journey.

  9. Thanks for sharing. I felt myself teetering on this subject since the birth of my daughter. We also always said we would never lie to our children. Thank you for the reminder and for being bold for Christ.