Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Truth About Santa

I normally try to stay away from the controversial here on my blog, but I thought this might be a fun discussion, so here we go.....

A few weeks ago my 6-year old son created quite a stir in his Sunday School class when he boldy announced that Santa isn't real. There was at least one little girl who was very upset about this pronouncement. I haven't heard from her parents yet, but perhaps they just haven't tracked me down yet.

Every year around this time it's not unsual to hear parents questioning whether or not they should tell their children that Santa isn't real. From my son's announcement, you can probably guess my point of view. Yes, tell your children that Santa isn't real. Or, at least don't tell them that he is real. Why would I say that you may ask? Here are a few reasons:

1) He isn't real. I know that some adults like to pretend as if he is real, but the plain fact is that he isn't. And please don't give me the "he exists if we believe he exists" garbage.

2) We need to tell our children the truth. If my six-year old asks me if Santa is real and I tell him "yes", I am lying to him. As parents one of our most important responsibilities is to model truth-telling to our children. We do this in big and small things. While you might consider Santa a small thing, when it comes to the truth there really are no small things.

3) The primary and most important reason is that when we don't tell our kids the truth we send mixed messages about what Christmas is really about. Christmas is not about Santa, trees, lights, ornaments, and gifts. Check that...it is about a gift. The gift. The gift that God the Father gave in sending His only Son on a rescue mission. Christmas is about God becoming flesh as a baby boy born to a teenage virgin. A little baby that would grow up, live a perfect life, and die on a Roman cross as the penalty for our sin. That's what Christmas is about. And when we get fixated with Santa, and allow our children to do the same, we run the danger of  failing to see Christmas amidst all  the trappings that our culture brings to this special day. If you don't see the danger, take some time this year to notice how most American's celebrate Christmas without any recognition of the one from whom it's name is derived.

I suggest this: the next time your child asks you if Santa is real, take the opportunity to tell them the truth, about Santa and Jesus. Maybe this Christmas will be one that you will remember for a long time. The Christmas your child came to know Jesus as their Savior.

5 comments:

  1. That's funny! I'm always worried that my kids are going to do the same thing. Great post!

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  2. I taught my kids the Truth and encouraged them to enjoy the stories of Santa, and Rudolph, and for that matter the Lord of the Rings. I think my kids were smart enough to be able to distinguish between Faith and fantasy, even in a world that had to distinguish between super heroes, cultural "Super-Stars", the Force of Star Wars and Moses and the Red Sea, or Jesus walking on water. It may have been about what they saw in their parents lives. Cultural awareness and sensitivity and respect for others should permit Christians to redeem and elevate and use the principles of "Good" being communicated by their culture; we should be leading the vanguard on the side of "Good, and Just, and Right"; it may afford the wise and alert many Gospel discussions. It should not be enough to be "Right"; we need to find authentic love in there some place. I am so challenged, particularly as an old guy trying to stretch and "get it" and "get them", who also happens to be an introvert by temperament in a culture (church culture, too?) that esteems the popular, attractive, and extrovert, to become like One fully and wisely engage my world as a "sent one". My kids assure me that I am not "cool"; I have family and friends who reinforce that I never was. But I still have this Gospel Hope blazing in me that drives me to weep, and press, and work so that I hear the Gospel come out of my mouth and see dead people come to Life. Even through Santa, and Luke Skywalker, and Frodo, and the excellencies of your favorite sport, game, or player: If it has redeeming value, isn't it "on us" to use it to present the Redeemer?

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  3. Our family never felt this "dilemma" of should we tell our children that Santa is real or that Santa is make believe. My wife and I came from the Roman Catholic tradition and became believers in our teenage years. In the Catholic tradition, the origin of Santa Claus goes back to St Nicholas, a third century bishop and Christ follower who was know for his benevolence, goodness, and generosity, and lived out the words of Jesus to care for the poor, the sick, the needy. When our kids were very young, "Santa" came and brought one present for each child (unwrapped of course) and mom and dad brought the rest of the presents under the tree (wrapped). By the time the kids reached the age where they suspected Santa was not real and would ask, we simply talked with them about the true origins of Santa Claus and how the tradition began and how St Nicholas lived out his faith. It made for great discussions while our children were growing up. And simply carrying out St Nicholas’ tradition of giving gifts anonymously was fun and was a way to point to Christ, the reason for the season.
    But Santa was never the center of our celebration of Christmas. We always had an advent wreath at the table (another Catholic tradition) read special advent prayers at each meal, had a manger scene prominent in our home, so truly, the Santa thing was no big deal.

    Many in the church seem so obsessed with telling their children that Santa is not real, fearing that they will someday think that this "Jesus thing" is make believe as well. And yet when the children do become of age and begin to question "bible stories" (as they most certainly will) we use all kinds of explanations so it "fits" with the scientific secular worldview of things. Such as "Well, Noah really didn’t put all the animals in the ark but some of them..." and "Noah’s flood was only a local flood and not a worldwide flood..." and "the creation days, they don’t really mean days but long ages..." and "the creation order doesn’t fit the evolutionary order but God was just trying to tell us a story..." and "well, humans did evolve and Adam wasn’t really the first "man" but this was simply an allegorical story God was trying to tell us..." and on and on it goes.
    There are far more important issues in the Christian faith than Santa Claus. My advice is to lighten up a bit and enjoy the season. Don’t make a big deal of Santa, and make Christ the center of your Christmas. Your kids will be grown and gone before you know it.

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  4. Amen Chris! I agree with you 100%. Why try to pretend (ie. "lie") that there's some jolly guy running around in his red satin pajamas handing out gifts to "good" little boys and girls. The truth of Christmas is SO much better! And for sure, modeling the truth to our children is of supreme importance.

    Thanks for the post. I think your position is the wise one for Christians to follow.

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  5. Good post. We are just starting to wrestle with this question this year.

    We've come to the conclusion that we'll tell them there is a story of Santa, but that's all it is - a story.

    The last thing we want to do with our kids is tell them that there is this Father Figure named Santa who is all-knowing and gives us good gifts - then as they grow up we tell them he isn't real, but there is a God who is all-knowing and gives good gifts and expect them to believe that!?

    Great point about modeling truth telling!

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About Me

I am a husband to Eva, father of 4, pastor, and most of all passionate follower of Jesus Christ. The focus of my life is to make the most of every opportunity God gives me to bring glory to Him. Outside of the time spent in my role as a pastor, I spend most of my time with my family -- a good deal of that coaching various sports teams that my children are involved with. Every fall and winter you will find me rushing to the woods of Indiana and West Virginia in search of a monster whitetail buck.