I remember the therapist asking my husband, “So, do you have a spiritual conviction about these traditions?” He let out an honest, “Nope. I just think they’re stupid.” And it was settled. He reluctantly agreed to let me lie to our future kids. LOL.
So yeah, we totally do Santa at our house. Here’s why:
- It’s fun. Plain and simple, it’s just so much fun to set out the cookies and milk, and sneak the presents, and watch their excitement and joy on Christmas morning when they awake to see that Santa has come. It is magical. I love it and will hold on to these memories for always
- It’s short-lived. The season of Santa is precious, and innocent, and painfully short. There are very few sweet years when children take hold of the spirit and magic that is Santa Claus. And because it won’t last very long, we have chosen to celebrate this with our children for this season of life.
And while we have decided to let Santa be a part of our Christmas traditions, we have also set specific boundaries. These boundaries allow us to keep Christmas holy, while acknowledging a centuries-old tradition. Here’s how we do it:
- We tell our children about the true reason we celebrate Christmas. Jesus is central to our traditions and we demonstrate this to our children in a variety of ways. We do this by attending worship services with them. By reading Luke 2 before opening gifts. By having a nativity on display. While my daughters are excited that Santa is coming, they will also both tell you, without hesitation, that Christmas is all about Jesus.
- We wait to talk about Santa until December. While he is special to our family’s celebrations, Santa plays only a very small part. We spend every other day of the year talking about Jesus. Every. Single. Day. We do this through praying together as a family at the dinner table and before bed. By attending Bible study and worship service each week. By singing worship songs in the car. Because Jesus is so very central in every day of our lives, it’s easy to let Santa be a part of our December.
- We keep it simple. In order to allow Santa to be a part of our Christmas morning, we keep it simple. The girls lay out cookies and sprinkle reindeer food (oatmeal) on the sidewalk. Jason and I sneak in the gifts after they've gone to bed. The next day, Santa has brought 3-4 gifts per kid and the rest is from Momma and Daddy. That’s it.
- We don’t tell our children that they have to be “good” in order to get presents. Instead, we work to teach our children that “goodness” does NOT equate to “gifts”. This makes it easier to also teach them that we could never be good enough to receive the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Instead, we let them have fun circling toys in catalogs, all while reminding them that, just like they don’t get everything they ask for any other time of year, the same applies at Christmas time.
- We don’t tell our children that Santa is watching them. My husband and I have set high standards for behavior and an even higher expectation for obedience, humility, and kindness towards others. And those standards are no different in December than they are any other time of year. I don’t expect my children to obey because Santa is watching them, I expect them to obey because I told them to. Because it’s God’s commandment. Because if they don’t, I will cut them. Kidding. But only a little bit.
- We won’t continue the tradition when they ask if “Santa is real.” When a child is beginning to speculate that the notion of Santa doesn’t line up with reality, it is time to share with them the truth. When this time comes, we will gently share with them how the tradition of Santa Claus was started and why parents today still carry on that tradition of giving. While there are many accounts and legends surrounding Saint Nicholas, most scholars agree that he was known for his wealth and for his charitable giving. He was also known for his devotion to the Christ. And thus, the Santa Claus we know today evolved directly from this historical figure. That’s the truth.
While I recognize the validity of this stance, and completely respect families who skip Santa all together (I married into one of those families), I am hard pressed to believe that a fun tradition, with historical significance tied to a REAL person, is going to psychologically warp my kid. My choosing to cut a rug while chaperoning their middle school dance will likely do more harm, but only time will tell.
So Santa or no Santa, the choice is yours. Only you know what is best for your family. This is just what’s right for mine.