Monday, October 16, 2006

Two Sides to Santa

The holidays will be here soon, and with Christmas comes Santa. (Well, Jesus, of course, but you know what I mean.)

I was raised with Santa Claus. I think I realized he wasn’t real when I was about six, and shortly afterward I put two and two together to deduce that if Santa wasn’t real then neither were the tooth fairy or the Easter bunny. I never thought my parents had lied to me; rather, that it was just a game played for fun. And it was fun! Oh the suspense of waiting, listening for jingle bells and little hooves on the rooftop! We had a large stone fireplace, so it wasn’t hard to imagine Santa getting into our house by traditional means to leave all those beautiful presents under our tree.

It also never occurred to me to question whether my parents had told me the truth about Jesus either, as the argument goes. Not once.

So I don’t regret that I was raised with the Santa myth. Actually I love Santa. I not only like the story of St. Nicholas, but all the fun that comes with The Night Before Christmas and images of the jolly old elf himself. Some of my Christmas decorations have Santa themes. Santa doesn’t bother me a bit.

All that said, Billy and I agreed together not to tell our kids that Santa was real. We haven’t made a big deal about it one way or the other, we’ve never sat them down and said, “Now listen, kids, Santa is fake.” When it came up we’ve just said matter of factly, “Daddy is Santa.” We don’t have a problem with other families doing Santa, and remembering how much fun Santa was, we don’t want to ruin it for those children. So we try to help our kids not spread to the wind that Santa is a myth. We haven’t implied in any way, shape, form, or fashion that it’s wrong to participate in the traditional Santa game. We’ve just handled it in a low key way.

We’ve even wondered a time or two if we did the right thing, especially when we see the horror in the eyes of grown-ups when our kids say, “My mom is the tooth fairy,” or “My dad is Santa.” Maybe that’s one reason we haven’t dealt with it too extensively—because while we aren’t prepared to tell our kids something is true that isn’t we also have half hoped that they would believe on their own.

So I was totally taken by surprise when Elizabeth realized this week that some parents tell their children that Santa is real. Her eyes grew wide. With dismay in her voice she asked, “Why do parents tell their children something that isn’t true?!!!”

When I relayed the story to Billy, he said, “We did the right thing.” While I wasn’t the kind of kid who was bothered by this game of make-believe, we have a child whose faith in us would have been shaken. She’s the kind of intense, emotional, inquisitive soul who would feel lied to if we told her Santa was real and then she found out that he isn’t.

All-in-all, I think Santa has to be a personal decision for each individual family. If you’re comfortable with the Santa game, then I say go for it. But if you feel a little uneasy and decide against it, your kids won’t be warped. In fact, as in our case, it might save them a lot of confusion. So use charity and wisdom as you decide with your spouse what’s best for your family.


Rebecca said...

We did the same thing with our younger kids, never told them that Santa was real. We always told them that they could not tell any of their friends, because it was their friends' parent's responsibility to tell them.

Worked really well for us!

Windy said...

Hi Stephanie...

Todd and I debated this when we had Hannah. Todd was dead set against us doing Santa. I was very uncomfortable with this because of what "Santa" was in my house, but agreed with my husband if that is the way he wanted to go.

Hannah's first Christmas changed his mind... We spent Hannah's first Christmas with my Mom and Dad. He got to see what Santa was in our house and what a special time it was for us.

See Santa was really imporant to my dad because he was the one that dressed as Santa every year and went to the Childrens shelter and delivered gifts (needs) for all the children. As I grew up it became a family affair... my mom would dress up as Mrs. Claus and I was an elf. See, my parents taught me about Jesus and what God had given us through his Son and that we needed to have the same spirit and especially at Christmas. Needless to say as I grew up there was the normal issues of being an only "spoiled" child and when the lesson they taught me that year was to give (something I had really wanted) to someone less fortunate it really clicked. I saw the look in that little girls eyes and I will never forget it.

I am very thankful my parents gave me the blessing of teaching me about God and Jesus... I am also they gave me another gift of knowing St. Nick. If you asked me, I still believe... :) To give, what an awesome gift, the gift of giving!

I love this time of year... Giving! What joy it brings and what an example the Lord has set for us by giving his only Son, Jesus Christ.

Thank you for sharing Stephanie!