Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Santa clause

On Saturday, Henry was telling his friend Emma something about Santa, and Emma point blank told him there was no Santa...and Henry argued for him.

We haven't talked about Santa at all, and don't watch Santa movies. But he hears about it from his friends at school. We have done stockings on Christmas morning, but the big gifts are from family members.

So what's a Christian parent to do about Santa?

I don't want to lie to my children, but I want to encourage generosity and the story of the original St. Nicholas.

ETA: I love playing Santa. Even when I was old enough to know about Santa and my parents stopped putting stuff in our stockings, I continued to fill them. I just enjoy blessing others through little (and sometimes big) gifts--not just at Christmas, but all year. Guess it's not surprising that giving is one of my (and Patrick's) spiritual gifts, and in some ways, I see Santa as a way to teach that to my children. For example, this year I plan to take the kiddos shopping and ask them to "play Santa" with me and buy stocking stuffers for Jubilee Christmas. I don't think that "ruins" Santa, but perpetuates what it is that I like about the whole concept--spontaneous, undeserved gifts, just like the Father gives us.

So what do you do about Santa?


Joyful Days said...

We never did Santa, but because we homeschool it was never much of an issue. I don't think they are scarred for life. They've certainly never lacked for anything.

My boys were always taught not to argue or confront another child or an adult about Santa, although my single, psychologist friend was aghast that we didn't do Santa. She asked, "Well who brings the presents?!!" to the boys. They looked at her like she had lost it and said, "Ummmm...Mom & Dad." Thankfully the "Duhhh." wasn't said.

This year we are at a church where families are doing Santa. I think it will be stickier.

The tooth fairy has caused us more grief than the Santa issue.

Prayers for wisdom.

Kim said...

Let me know how you plan to approach this. Dave and I are at a crossroads ourselves (but thankfully still have another few years before he "gets" it.) Both our families even do Santa and we are just not sure what our thoughts are on well as how to handle the opposition with his peers someday. I had one of my strong Christian friends (Mel) tell me how her parents did Santa, but then when it was time to reveal that he wasn't lead into a really good spiritual discussion (I can check with her to see how her parents approached it...but I remember feeling "Ahhh..that's neat" when she told me).

Jen said...

Sorry about Emma! We are still working with her on "tact!"

Charlie and I had very different ideas about Santa. Charlie's parents perpetuated Santa and he has great memories of Christmas mornings etc. My parents did Santa as well, but because they divorced and because my childhood was pretty rough, I always resented the fact that they lied about another thing. It was a real stumbling block for me. In fact, I can remember wondering if Jesus was real because we couldn't see Him, either. Anyway, because I had such strong feelings about it and because I couldn't bring myself to get into the Santa story with my own kids, we opted not to have it as part of our Christmas tradition. It wasn't until last year that it became an issue we had to discuss in any detail. We simply focus on the real meaning of the season, Jesus who is our ultimate gift-giver. I think there are hundreds of ways we can model giving that honors Him, and we can do so in secret, just as many of His gifts were not revealed at the time of giving. It's a tough road, though, because many families have great memories that include Santa...I think God will give you wisdom and counsel you as to how He would want you to handle the issue and how you and your family can best glorify Him in it.
Again, sorry about Emma's comments! We'll work on that...

Misty said...

Giving is one of my spiritual gifts as well as my love language, so I understand.
The santa thing is so hard. Escpecially since there are many Christian parents who still promote it. We do not. We do "santa" pictures, for tradition and joke about it, but with the story of St. Nic we see Santa more as the Christmas spirit of giving... so in a way we are all santa... My in laws hate this and constantly try to confuse our daughter into believing in Santa.

Connie said...

We don't do Santa. It started out of my own memories of childhood trauma. I remember believing I could ask Santa for anything I wanted and he would give it to me, and then being sorely disappointed when I came down Christmas morning and he didn't follow through. Santa must not care about me. He cared about my cousins (whose parents had more money than mine) but not me. And then I felt lied to and betrayed when I found out there really was no such thing as Santa and the tooth fairy.

When I became a believer, I was happy to have a good reason not to do the santa thing, then I didn't seem like such a grinch! We talk about what St Nicholas did and giving, and I try to exemplify that as much as I can, but we try very much to keep the focus of Christmas on Christ.

As far as the tooth fairy, that one is easy - we play a game. If the kids catch me putting the money under their pillow, then they get two.

Love Bears All Things said...

I had the same upbringing as you. We had Santa come way after we knew the truth, for the little ones.
I loved playing Santa for the kids. I think probably it is basically over by age 6 because of school. When that happens, we could tell them the history of the tradition. Explain that giving secret gifts and calling it Santa is a tradition, it doesn't mean we believe a jolly man in a red suit actually comes down the chimney or through the door.
I like Father Chrismas better than Santa for a name.
Some of my grands believed and some didn't. It doesn't seem to have hurt either way.
Mama Bear