Sunday, December 13, 2009

Santa Claus at Our House

When embracing the world, we as Christian are always questioning ourselves - how much world is in the world, but not of it? Santa Claus is one of those puzzles. At least he is based upon an actual Christian, St. Nicholas. The problem comes into play when the secular world hijacks Santa, morphing him into a God like figure. Santa is portrayed as knowing when you are good and bad, as being omnipresent. Celebrating Santa in more on the Happy Holidays side of the season, and fears Christians into viewing him as a distraction from Jesus, the real star of Christmas.

Is having your kids sit on Santa's lap bad? Should you donate all your Santa decorations to Goodwill? Could you proudly pronounce, "We do NOT do Santa." If you want to ban the jolly fat guy, that is completely your choice, but here is what we do at our house. Only you can pray and discern what God would like you to do in this matter. Santa is not a matter of orthodoxy.

All the mythical characters are explained to our children as being make-believe. The Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny and Santa included. We explain make-believe is fun, and anything can happen there. I must admit that Disney World is one of my favorite destinations, it is the ultimate make-believe environment. It oozes magic. However, wishes and magic are make-believe, they do not make things happen (Mr. Rodgers has a great book on this if you can find it). Dreams are great to have, but real is real and make-believe stays in make-believe.

Santa is magical to my children because he lives in their imagination. My five year old told me the Tooth Fairy lives next to Santa Claus. Last year we sprinkled reindeer food on our lawn, the kids loved it. They nervously sit on Santa lap and with a joyful smile, as they whisper their wishes for toys. We enjoy movies like The Polar Express. Every year we think about doing a Santa sighting on Christmas Eve, but the suit never materializes. I feel my children have fully enjoyed the "magic" of Santa, while we have been able to be honest with them. Learning what is real and what is make-believe is an important lesson for a child. It in no way crushes their childhood.

What we have not done is give Santa Claus God like characteristics like I mention above. If they say in a movie that Santa knows when your are naughty or nice, I verbally remind the kids that only God has that power. We also do not tell the kids that Santa brings them presents. If they want to make-believe that Santa does, that is fine. Santa is not used as a leverage for getting good behavior either. Children should focus on honoring God, not pleasing Santa. Decorations depicting Santa are not banned in our home, but I do not think we have any other than a Santa hat. We do try to use decorations that point to Christ in Christmas.

There is a line between being honest with your children and only telling them what they need to know. Personally to me, saying "Santa is real" is a falsehood. I cannot see how a falsehood honors God, in fact I would say it is braking a commandment. The smart kids will figure it out pretty early anyway. You have more of a chance of prolonged magic if you let Santa live in make-believe. It is much easier to answer, "Mommy, how can Santa be in so many places? Anything can happen in make-believe, my sweet."

I would just like to add that it is the way you walk out Christ daily in your life that matters most in raising Godly children. Issues like Barbie dolls, Trick-or-Treating, and Santa are just side shows. Pray. Seek God. Seek wise council. Listen and leave the mommy worries at His feet.

Do you "do" Santa? How do you handle the issue? I like to hear other people's perspective on the matter, even when they are completely against mine.


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