To Santa or Not To Santa

Every year since I was pregnant with Caden (so 3 years now) Geric and I get into a “discussion” about whether or not we are going to tell our kids about Santa and all the magical things that go along with him.  We are on completely opposite sides of the fence on this one.

Geric thinks that since Christmas is all about the birth of Jesus, that that is what the focus of the holiday should be.  He would go so far as to say that giving each other presents on Christmas seems silly since it isn’t our birthday, but Jesus’ birthday.  We would be offended if someone else was receiving all the gifts on our own birthday, right?  He tells me that everything comes from some sort of idol worshipping and hethen rituals.  (You know, things like the Christmas tree and maybe even Christmas lights.)  He also sees it as “lying” to our children by telling them that Santa really does exist and comes to our house in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer.

Well, I think that Santa is completely harmless fun.  I think we live in a world today that is completely different from the world I lived in as a child and a lot of the fun I experienced in my childhood won’t be available to my kids.  Things like being creative in school with different projects instead of just working out of a workbook, or riding your bike around town without worrying about child predators, or even watching certain TV channels after 7pm!  I think Santa is something fun that we can still give our kids.  It’s part of our culture as Americans!  I do believe that the focus of Christmas should be on the birth of Jesus and you bet that we’re going to talk about that WAY more than Santa, but I think it’s okay for us to still tell our kids about him and leave him milk and cookies and he can bring them a gift.

We actually came to a compromise the other day.  I told Geric that even C.S. Lewis talked about Santa in “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.”  And Geric argued back saying that “Father Christmas” brought the kids one gift each that were “spiritual tools,” not toys: a sword, a bow and arrow, a dagger, and a magical potion that will heal any injury.  So, we decided that our Santa will do the same thing.  He will bring one gift for each of the boys that is more of a spiritual tool instead of a toy.  I’m not sure yet what those things are going to be… Geric is charge of that! 

 Anyway, just wanted to get some other opinions.  What do you guys think?  What do you do, or what do you think you will do?  To Santa, or not to Santa?  

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17 responses

  1. I wish we had made a concrete decision on this before our kids were little. We have always done Santa AND focused on the birth of Jesus. One year we decided to tell Liam the truth about St. Nicholas and how Christmas became what it is today. That was a big mistake! We found out that he WANTED to believe so badly that the explanation we gave, was irrelevant to him. I am all for keeping the Christmas gifts to a minimum and there have been years where we set a limited amount of presents for each child. But we do not have a lot of immediate family and our kids don’t get tons of gifts, so I do tend to buy a little more that I should.

    I say let the kids have a little bit of magic in their lives while they can. Liam is already 11 and I can barely remember where those years went. It really does go by soooo fast.

  2. I hate this topic. My aunt, non-religious, actually left Jesus out of the manger until Christmas morning. The family would then put Jesus in the manger and sing him happy birthday before one present was unwrapped. That’s awesome! Even though she didn’t raise her kids in the church she knew what the foundation of the holiday was. Santa also brought gifts that were valued into the 300 range.

    I bought a picture book anout Santa this year and we are going to read it through the season. I want Aubrey to be excited about Christmas. I think there are also beautiful Christian elements too. I want to celebrate Advent in our house (not commonly done in non-denominational churches) but a beautiful preparation for Jesus’ birth. I want to bake Christmas cookies (not just crosses) and decorate them, and make gingerbread house. I want Christmas to be a time of expectation and excitement.

    I also want to teach humility. I want my kids to donate toys to children that may not have a Santa coming to their house. When they are older, I want to volunteer at soup kitchens with my family. I want to make gifts and not only buy them (didn’t your family do this)? I want my kids to be truly thankful for what they recieve. I just read a quote on a pastors blog, it said “Never give your children more than they have the capacity to be thankful for.” It went on to say that giving too much breeds a feeling on entitlement and ungrateful teens and adults. I don’t want my kids to be mad because they didn’t get what they wanted.

    All this to say I think you can find a balance between Santa and Jesus, although I will tell my kids that Santa can’t be everywehere at once, unlike Jesus, so he sends helpers to stand in for him at malls (we never know if i is the real Santa we are seeing) and their will be a modest ammount of gifts and a lot of magic! Oh, and I believe the Christmas tree actually goes back to German Lutherans, they had two and they stood for Godly things, I can’t remember, but I remember it wasn’t paegan. Then again they may have tilted a pagaen ritual to give it a religious slant.

  3. it is cool to see that I am not the only one who has this battle with their husband :). Jim feels the EXACT same as Geric. We don’t talk about how he isn’t real (well, jim does) we talk about him like we do Mickey mouse. i don’t want my kids to be the ones that ruin it for other kids in school… Jim and I have the same issues when it comes to halloween…. He is softening a bit though on that one. As long as their costumes are cheery and fun and not scary and of dead/evil things.

  4. Jeremy and I haven’t really battled on this – probably cuz I’d win! But here’s what we do. Christmas includes traditions like trees, lights, cookies, etc like most families.

    But when it comes to gifts – the kids get 3 gifts from us, just like Jesus got three gifts (gold, frankincense and myrrh). For us this takes the form of clothes, book, toy. Santa files stockings for all four of us – some of the contents are fun things like a movie and others are practical (toothbrush). Santa also brings a “big” gift for the kids. How big sorta depends on our budget that given year.

    Of course our kids are spoiled by all the family, but for us, this is a way to keep it from getting out of control both for the kids and their shopping mommy!

    Ultimately, you have to do what you think is right for your family. Try to see things from each other’s perspective, and think (or encourage Geric to think) – “Am I scarred for life because of how I grew up celebrating Christmas?” Probably not! 🙂

  5. I’m with Geric. I was so angry when I found out the truth about Santa. I cried and yelled at my parents for “lying to me on Jesus’ birthday!” Joshua, however, came into his family when they were newly Christians and had nothing to do with Santa. He STILL talks about how unfair it is that his stocking has a wreath and a candle while his siblings have Santa and presents. I think we’ll have to come to some sort of compromise when we have little ones.

  6. I think Jesus is the best gift of all and on Christmas we celebrate that gift given to us. It is a time of giving and loving – as God the Father gave to us His ultimate Love. Does Santa represent that giving and loving spirit? I think so! Do we still recongize and sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus? Absolutely! As a Gramma, I’m glad to see you young parents grappling with this issue – that means you really care alot not only about Jesus, the meaning of Christmas but also how to guide and love your children – YOU ARE ALL AWESOME PARENTS and/or PARENTS-TO-BE! The Lord will guide you on this issue and let you know what is perfect for YOUR family.

  7. This is Geric. In response to the Christmas Tree comment, actually the practice goes all the way back to Nimrod, and the Tower of Babel. Nimrod’s mother, the Queen of Heaven, known as Ashtoroth, Talmooz, ect was said to have her son by immaculate conception. Sound familiar? As it goes, people celebrated Nimrod’s birthday which was December 25th by lighting huge evergreen trees on fire and dancing around them in naked, drunken displays of madness as they worshipped Nimrod’s Mother, Talmooz. That is where yule log comes from. They would also exchange presents as part of the celebration.

    Fast forward 4000 years to the time of Constantine in the Roman Empire. When Constantine was converted to Christianity he had an empire full of people who worshipped Aphrodite on December 25th duing the winter solstice. Aphrodite is the same deity as Talmooz. The Romans would decorate evergreen trees and exchange presents in worship of Aphrodite. So you see, all of what we have come to know as our “Christmas Traditions” are really rooted in ancient idol worship that is really Satanic to say the least.

    I don’t believe that when I decorate our tree I am worshipping these false goddesses, but I do think that we should know what is behind all of it so that we can prayerfully consider what we will and will not include in our celebration of our Lord’s birth because it is about Him and Him alone.

  8. Those darn Lutherans! Here I was reading a nice article abot the orgin of the Christmas tree (10 years ago as to why I am fuzzy with the details) and they were all about it being a Lutheran tradition. Now I want to google it. Although naked drunken displays of madness sounds pretty interesting… I promise we won’t include that in our tree decorating.

  9. Not what I originally read, but good insight to consider…

    Q. A friend of mine insists that Christmas trees are pagan and false idols because of scripture in Jeremiah 10. Any thoughts?

    A. In response to your friend’s concerns about idolatry, it must be emphasized that the warnings contained in Jeremiah 10 (and similar passages) have to do with “worshipping” physical objects as “gods” and seeking help and guidance from these false idols. Nowhere does Scripture condemn the proper use of religious art, symbolism, etc. to remind us of the true God and his blessings. It would certainly be wrong to “worship” Christmas trees, pray to them, seek help from them, or attribute to them any spiritual “power.” But there is nothing wrong with simply using them as reminders of the beauty of God’s creation and of the wonder of his incarnation in Jesus Christ, who “became flesh” for us so that we might be saved.

    No, I’m not Lutheran, but read about this while at a Lutheran University.

    Oh, and a veggie tale DVD may be an age appropriate spiritual weapon.

  10. We just tell Kaylee that mommy and daddy pretend to be Santa. But that there once was a real Santa (St. Nicholas) who loved people so much that he went around giving gifts to people just like the wisemen did for Jesus. Kaylee still loves opening her stockings every year with little trinkets and (junk). But we only get our kids 3 presents just like Jesus recieved on His Birthday.

    I tell Kaylee this because when I was little I believed there was a Santa until I was in 5th grade (Wild imagination- I know). And when I found out there wasn’t one I was CRUSHED! I cried in disbelief and then realized there was no tooth fairy either and then no Easter Bunny (Who’s foot I believed to see on Easter). It was horrible. I was a Big dreamer and all my dreams were crushed… no Holiday was the same for me as a kid after that year.

  11. Growing up I never believed in Santa. My parents knew a couple who, when they told their boy, he asked if that meant Jesus wasn’t real too. My parents didn’t want any confusion, so there was no Santa for us. We still had Santa decorations and did fun things, we just knew he wasn’t real. I don’t feel like I missed out on anything. Kyle loved Santa, and we argued about it for a long time. But in the end I, and Kyle too, decided we always wanted are kids to know that we tell them the truth. And Christmas is about Jesus, no confusion. I do think that your compromise is a good one though.

  12. Geesh… so many opinions, who knew??? Well, if you aren’t gonna talk about Santa, then you better cancel your Disneyland passes because those characters are all fake too! Christmas was the most exciting morning in our house… I mean we are all sleepers and that was the day Mom and Dad said we had to sleep in til 5am… The excitment shouldn’t be taken away from them based on religious beliefs… I consider myself Christian, and I know all the parents will think Im a hethen, but just because you are Christian, doesn’t mean your kid will be… so I think Jesus should be the focus, go to chuch, have your manger, sing songs… but what should really be taught is the gift of giving, loving, family together time, and compassion for others. These are the true foundations for any moral and strong kid to have in order to grow up and become a good adult. As an adult, I love to give gifts more than I recieve them, I am a nurse at a county hospital in LA- yes that means drug dealers, bums and celebrities are all treated there equally, and I still pray and look to God for guidance. And I believed in Santa! That’s my 2 cents! This isn’t an issue that is going to decide whether your child is an agnostic uni-bomber or a youth pastor… this is a fun magical time that promotes good behavior and valuing family and morality and helping others. K, too long, so chill, and tell the kids about Santa- or I will! 🙂 J/K! I’ll try to respect whatever you decide!

  13. Ok… I want to weigh in on this to-Santa or to-not-Santa issue … who’da thunk a universally agreed upon by most adults fictitous character could have become such a dominant character competing for our attention … or should I say distracting our attention. As a kid I was totally excited about the arrival of Santa, but all too soon found out the truth (yes, I was snooping, found the electric hockey game under my parents bed, received it from Santa on Christmas morning, and in a second realized the truth and faked my surprise and tried to hide my disappointment). Somehow I survived and I can remember my mom telling me that Santa – and the spirit of giving generously and thoughtfully – would always be alive in my heart, if I wanted it to be. I chose then and every year after that to believe that way. I tried to pass that along to my children and it sounds like they got it and it never supplanted the love of Christ, but complimented it. Personally I think the idea of Santa giving gifts reminds us that giving is simply a wonderful, loving thing to do. And when I think about Santa and Jesus I think that Santa’s gifts are so incredibly wonderful and exciting to receive (and to give!), but pale in comparison to the gift of salvation given us by Jesus. I say Santa stays; he serves an important spiritual and cultural role and, frankly, I don’t really think God is threatened by Santa’s presence. It is important that Santa stay right sized, though, and when he is he fits nicely in my heart (thanks, mom!).
    Maybe this recording sent to me by my friend Marty will help all of us to keep Santa right-sized: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VyR0lwO-nXc
    Sorry about the lengthy answer … all my kids will tell you to never ask me what time it is.

  14. Okay I absolutely LOVE that you brought up this topic because even though Noah is only 2 months old, we’re already starting this debate and wondering how we’re going to handle Santa in the years coming up. It’s a hard thing. I grew up in a house that was all about Santa and no Jesus. It was magical and just like the Christmas movies. I loved it and of course I was crushed when I found out Santa wasn’t real. I cried. But that didn’t take away the fun of the earlier years. Once I knew he was fake, we still got presents from “Santa” and still do to this day. On the other side, Aaron grew up where Christmas was all about Jesus and there was no Santa and very little gift giving. The focus was entirely on Christ. The first year we were married and my family spoiled him with gifts he was so taken aback I think he nearly cried from gratefulness. There has to be a middle ground. I do like what people are saying about Santa complimenting Jesus in that we are reminded to give to others. I love the idea of giving 3 gifts as Jesus got. We’d have to start that next year because Noah already has a whole tree full of gifts from us and my mom and he can’t even unwrap any of them! Anyway, once I became Christian I knew someday this debate would come up once I had kids. I’m glad you opened it up for discussion for people to weigh in on because it’s helpful. Keep us posted on how you end up handling it. Does Caden believe in Santa?

  15. To me one of the wonderful things about the Christian faith is its inherent simplicity. We have few traditions to follow (baptism, communion, and belief in Christ). This was not an accident, rather it was quite intentional. It prevents us as humans from believing we can actualy earn our way into God’s good graces by following a set of regulations. Yet all three of our rituals illustrate how we must accept his gift of grace in order to be saved by it. That being said and not uncommon knowledge I personaly believe there was another reason God kept things simple. I think he wanted the Christian religion to be easily incoporated into the many cultures of the world without destroying those cultures completely. Why? well when I look at nature I see a wonderous variety of plants, animals, ecosystems, etc. We as humans are each unique and special. The way humans have organized themselves into social groups and interpreted thier existence is also ripe with a variety of fruits. Albeit many of those fruits are rotting because of sin I think the world would be bland and dull and unlike anything our creator intended if all the cultures of the world were apples. Why I am I going on this seemingly unrelated tangent on a blog about Santa? Well the character of Santa is a mostly fictious cultural phenomenon with a few grains of truth sprinkled in it. He isn’t biblical, he isn’t talked about by Christ or in the bible but I don’t think that is reason to rule him out of the holidays. He can be something unique to our western culture that sets us apart from other cultures, and I think the Santa tradition can be incoporated into our faith to teach lessons to our children of giving for the joy of giving. God the father gives to his children out of pure love for no other reason than he simply delights in giving to us. We as Christians should emulate that, hence the term godliness. What harm is there in letting our children believe that there are other less powerful beings who love others so much they, like God, love to give for no other reason than it brings them joy. We teach our children about Angels who have more power than people but less power than God and don’t worry that by believing in them we will some how supplant God’s authority in our children’s minds. Maybe our kids get disappointed and hurt when they find out Santa isn’t real, maybe they question other things we have told them like who Jesus is. I say good. Children need to learn about disappoinment and how to deal with it. Children need question thier faith and the faith of thier parents. That’s how thier ‘parent’s’ faith becomes peronalized and internalized. That’s how all of us grow, learn, and are challenged spiritualy and intellectualy. Dilemmas in our belief systems are some of the most powerful ways in which the Lord reveals himself to us. And, might I add, just as adults we don’t believe Santa to be true does not negate his existence. The bible clearly gives me no reason to believe that some fat bellied, bearded man in a red suit rides around in a flying sleigh delivering gifts to poor children. Modern science and reason give me no reason to believe in Santa. The bible however never of the atom, anti-biotics, or fast food. And a belief system based solely on empiricism would rule out belief in the supernatural. Do I believe in Santa, no, but maybe when I die and get to heaven I just might find out that God created a spirit to fly around in a sleigh once a year and give gifts to children just because he (God) loves to give and loves to do things in diverse and unexpected ways. Why should I rob my children from the magic of believing in Santa. I don’t think Jesus would.

  16. I realize I may be chiming in a bit late here, however, I couldn’t hold back some of my own thoughts. I think what is more relevant and important for me in discussions one may want to have with their children around the holidays (regardless of which holiday you may be celebrating) would be that of gratitude for the love, people and basic necessities we have been blessed enough to recieve in this life…recognizing that not everyone in this world, country or even state, is as privileged as those of us on this list and that there will be families separated this holiday due to war, poverty, illness and hunger…I think that Jesus would be more interested in our children understanding and actively participating in righting the injustices we see everyday through acts of love and kindness, and helping those in need of more, than worrying about the origins of the christmas tree. Now I’m a history major and can appreciate the importance of our past, but let’s not get so lost in that, that we forget about our present circumstances, which I can safely bet does not involve idolatry when we decorate a christmas tree. As for Santa, let’s give the big guy a break…there are obviously more important messages to bestow on our children.

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