Should Christian parents play the “Santa” game?

Almost every year since I’ve been a Pastor someone in my church or circle of friends has asked me my opinion about “Santa” when Christmas rolls around.  Here’s what I typically tell people…

    1. First, as Christians we should be the first to celebrate the birth of Jesus, our Savior… to make much of it… to make much of HIM.  HE is what makes us Christ-ian at all, so He should take priority.  We’ve got to find all kinds of creative ways to do so, to redeem the holiday from the commercialization it has come to represent.  Find symbolic meanings for typical Christmas items (trees, lights, stars, angels, decorations, etc.) and tie it all into the real Christmas story.  Make the Christmas traditions MEANINGFUL for what they REALLY mean!
    2. The way the Santa-game is normally played, parents go to all kinds of elaborate extremes to LIE to their kids and DECEIVE THEM into believing in a magical, mythical personage we call “Santa.”  I don’t see this being consistent with Christian teaching at all!  Why would we LIE to our kids?  Don’t we tell them NOT to lie?  Don’t we tell them that WE don’t lie?  We should set the example of integrity, even in this.  I know, I know – Santa is just a “fun” thing that kids love… but the principle still holds true.  Telling our kids that Santa is real, when he is not, is a LIE.  I know of a grown man, in his 40s who was deeply hurt when he found out (age 12) that Santa was not real.  He was hurt by his parents and to this day is still fairly upset about their “deceit” (his word).  He says it’s been hard to learn to trust them since they went “all out” to make Santa seem so real for the first 11 years of his life.  You might think he’s a guy who’s just a bit too sensitive, but I think that he’s one of the few people I’ve heard talk about this sensibly!
    3. Consider the message you are sending to your kids when you say the following… “Santa is real, and Jesus is real.”  First – you are putting the two of them (one a myth, the other a historical and divine PERSON) on equal terms – connected to the same holiday celebration.  Second, the day will come when they find out that Santa (as we represent him to our kids in the typical Santa-game) is NOT real.  What do you think that does to them when it comes to considering whether Jesus is real?  If mom and dad lied about Santa, why wouldn’t they be lying about Jesus?  At the very least, the way that Jesus and Santa are both held up as “real” by parents who play the Santa-game, would bring un-needed, and possibly faith-harming confusion to their minds.

    What does our family DO about Santa then?

    • We tell our kids the truth, from day one.  Santa is like Mickey Mouse or Luke Skywalker.  A fun character who is pretend.  Kids need to know about reality.  I’ve written about that before here.  Along this line, it would be good to tell your kids about the REAL St. Nicholas and thank God for such a generous and kind man.
    • We used to enjoy the Santa movies, etc. during the holiday season, again emphasizing that it’s pretend and that Christmas is really about Jesus’ birth.  The kids enjoyed them – and we enjoyed them.  But we kept the perspective as it should be – grounded in reality, not deception.  That may still be a viable option for many Christian families.
    • BUT, we’ve since changed our family’s convictions about that issue.  We no longer have anything to do with Santa.  We got rid of all our Santa movies and are still purging our Christmas music collection of Santa-referencing tunes.  Why?  Because we came across 1 Timothy 4:7 in one of our family Bible times.  It instructs believers to have nothing to do with irreverant, silly myths, but rather to train ourselves to be Godly.  One of my sons asked, “Dad, wouldn’t Santa fall into that category?”  I said, “Aaron, I guess you’re right about that.”  He said, “Then why do we own Santa-based movies?”  Good question.  Really good question.  My only answer was, “Because we haven’t thought carefully about that issue.”  We all talked about it some more as a family, prayed together and decided together that in order to better train ourselves to be Godly, and to honor Jesus above all, we would get rid of our Christmas stuff that had to do with Santa.  Nobody misses the jolly old elf…
    • We have chosen NOT to have any Santa decorations in our home.  We would rather not see a pretend character everywhere when it’s really about a very REAL Savior.
    • We don’t do the “Santa” presents under the tree or the milk and cookies thing.  We don’t have to be concerned with all that when we tell the truth.

    I’m NOT a killjoy, I just believe in Christians being people of integrity, no matter the issue.  And when it comes to Christmas, we should do so for the much more important reason of honoring our Savior above and beyond anyone else – even Santa.

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    18 thoughts on “Should Christian parents play the “Santa” game?

    1. I agree. The question keeps coming up, though. So I respond “What do you think?” The older daughter says Santa is dead (my husband having explained the fact of a St. Nicholas who once lived). We simply urge them NOT to repeat their findings to their friends. Don’t want the parent cop squad after us.

    2. We actually didn’t think about those kinds of issues and it came up with one of the parents in our church once upon a time (my kid being the bearer of the “there is no Santa” news to their kid). It wasn’t so bad. We were able to talk with them about being truthful with their kids… and while they didn’t completely agree in this case, they did seem to catch a few more “truth” principles that made them think! Thanks for posting!

    3. I had to give the same warning about the “sex” talk. I don’t want my kids to hear it from someone other than me and I am sure other parents don’ t want ours telling them! It’s sad to me that in this day and age I have to give the talk to my 9 year old. Just last week, I had to tell her how it was wrong that the star of High School Musical had pictures taken in the nude. At least she brought this to my attention so I could address it!

      The thing about the Santa issue is, even though we have never told a lie about it, the kids still want to believe it’s true and they have discussions about it (the 9 and the 5 year old). That’s why I pose the questions to them, to let them figure it out and hold on to their fantasy if they want.

    4. I was brought up in a Christian Home and we believed in Santa (for a while). My mom LOVES Christmas and she always said (and still does) that Santa is real…she is Santa. 😀 My mom has very distinctive handwriting and we would always wonder why the tags on our Christmas gifts were filled out by her.

      On the other hand, we also had birthday parties for Jesus. Mom would bake a cake. There would be candles. We would sing “Happy Birthday”. It was fun.

      My father-in-law says that if you rearrange the letters in Santa you get Satan.

      I don’t know what we will do when it’s our turn.

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