On Facebook a while back, I posted a question asking how families handle the issue of Santa Claus. Do they tell their children that Santa Claus exists? Do they sign his name on the gifts? Do they not mention Santa to their kids at all? Well, I got some great answers!
I posted this question because I’ve met some Christians who have very extreme opinions about this topic. One man I met was in his 30’s and angry at his mom for lying to him by telling him about Santa. I’ve met another who was upset, feeling that his mom robbed him of some of the fun surrounding Christmas by not including Santa. I’m sure both moms just wanted to do what’s best for their children.
Who is Santa Claus?
Saint Nicholas, a Christian saint born in Turkey in 270 A.D, inspired the story of Santa Claus. Saint Nicholas, a devout follower of God, was known as a generous and caring person who gave to the needy, loved children, and cared for the sick and suffering.
What I tell my kids about Santa
My wife and I tell our children about who the actual Saint Nicholas was, as well as the things that he did. Santa Claus is a way we can remember this great man of God. We explain to our children that Santa isn’t an actual person now, but we can still enjoy the story, listen for hooves on the roof, and have some gifts under the tree from him. We have all the fun and tell the truth at the same time. I think we can keep Santa around and have our children know he isn’t real.
Most families actually do this with TV shows and movies all the time! Blues Clues isn’t real. Mickey Mouse isn’t real. Neither are Cinderella, Snow White, or Elsa. We allow our children to enjoy these stories, even dress and act like the characters. We even take them to Disneyland to meet them! We don’t think this will damage them – it’s actually a healthy part of being a child. We also know these characters teach our children some powerful lessons in life, and oftentimes the gospel is hidden all throughout their stories.
How Santa is (and isn’t) like Father God
I also like to point out the similarities and differences between Father God and Santa. Just like Father God snuck up on mankind and gave us His Son, the greatest of all gifts, Santa sneaks up on us at Christmas and leaves us gifts! However, Santa decides who gets gifts by a list of who’s been naughty or nice, but Father God gave us His Son when we were all on the naughty list. I use Santa to point out how much better Father God is!
In one of my favorite movies, Rise of the Guardians, Santa’s job is to guard the wonder of the children of the earth. I believe stories like the story of Santa Claus do just that, they protect the childlikeness of our children by keeping wonder alive in their hearts.