Since becoming a mom I have approached the Christmas season with new excitement and joy. It’s fun to view Christmas with child-like eyes again- the excitement, build-up, activities, the magic and wonder. But I have also begun to ask serious questions about how we would raise our children during Christmas, more specifically… what were we going to do about the great Santa debate?
Most Christians fall into 2 camps:
- Santa is wonderful! We do Santa at our house AND we teach about Jesus too.
- Santa takes away from the real meaning of the season and we DON’T do Santa at our house.
So where do you fall? Do you do Santa at your house or not? Or do you fall somewhere in the middle, not really wanting to focus on him but realizing he is everywhere this time of year so it’s hard to ignore him?
My husband and I have differing opinions on how we are going to introduce the concept of Santa in our home. He loves the idea of Santa and wants it to be apart of our kids lives during the holidays, where as I am approaching with a little more caution.
Both of us grew up with Santa. And both of us grew up knowing the real Christmas story. I vividly remember as a child asking my mom if Jesus and Santa knew each other. I don’t remember exactly what she said, but something along the lines that Jesus had many helpers to spread His good news and that Santa was one of them. Not exactly theologically sound but it helped me and my child-like thinking to know that Jesus was more important.
Some argue that if you teach your kids about Santa then they won’t know why we really celebrate Christmas and why Jesus’ birth is so significant. Instead they will focus on the more materialistic side of Christmas – the want, want, want… give me, give me, give me! I see that, but I also know from personal experience that is not always the case.
I was raised Catholic and my husband was raised in a much more conservative Christian home. We both grew up going to church, learning about the Bible and the principles of our faith. Both of our parents also told us about Santa during the Christmas season. We both have pictures of sitting on his lap, we both have stories of fun Christmas mornings presents he left in our stockings and under the tree.
We also both have stories of participating in our church’s Christmas pageant (I was the angel Gabriel delivering the good news one year). Even though we did Santa, I had a very strong understanding and knowledge of the story of Jesus’ birth and that it was the main reason we celebrated Christmas.
Fast forward several years later to where I’m no longer Catholic, I’m much more mature in my faith and I’m a mom who is trying to figure out how to teach my kids about God and how to love him with all their hearts.
I can’t ignore Santa because he is everywhere this time of year- TV, stores, books, neighbor’s yards and decorations. There are others around us who do Santa and will talk about him a lot in front of my kids as they grow older. My kids will eventually go to school where they will hear more about him, color pictures of him, and be surrounding by other kids who believe in him with their whole hearts. I would hate to be the parent who gets that phone call where another parent is angrily telling me how her kid is crying because my kid told them there was no Santa!
My kids are only 1 and 2 so I don’t have to worry about Santa so much this year. As far as my son is concerned he is just a character in several of his books, but I know it’s coming in the next year or two and I don’t know what we will do yet.
What I do know is that I am teaching my son the story of Christmas through Truth in the Tinsel. We are doing several advent activities, including a Christmas book countdown with books that teach about Jesus as well as books that have Santa, elves, and reindeer.
I will read my kids Twas the Night Before Christmas because I read that every year as a child growing up. We do have a few Santa related Christmas decorations, including a Little People Musical Christmas Train that my kids play with everyday under the tree.
We do hang stockings because that has always been one of my favorite ways to give and receive smaller, everyday gifts.
I realize that in the next year or two my husband and I are going to have to make a choice as to how we will approach Santa and what we will teach our children. I also know this is a sensitive, as well as a controversial topic among Christians. I don’t necessarily think there is a right or wrong way, though some may disagree with me. I do think that every family needs to make the best decision for their family and do what they are comfortable with and I know my husband and I will come up with a plan that works for us.
How do you balance the holiday tradition of Santa with teaching about Jesus this time of year? I would love to hear how different families approach this subject. Please feel free to leave your thoughts or comments below.
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