There is a certain, lovable, old fat man who is causing quite a stir among Christian parents these days. His name is Santa Claus. He has always been a troublemaker—breaking and entering, eating cookies without any supper, and being super judgemental. But for other reasons with those, parents are deciding whether or not they would like to tell their kids about old St. Nick. This is a decision that every family should make for themselves, but here are three helpful considerations as you process through the question:
1. Parents Giving Gifts to their Children
It is a good thing to give gifts to your children. Even if you are pro-Santa, make sure there are some gifts that are just from Mom and Dad. In Matthew 7, Jesus refers to God as a father who gives his children what they need. You need to give good things to your children, so they can have a way to better understand God. Receiving something they didn’t earn also teaches your children about grace. Make sure that Christmas presents are never used as a bargaining tool so that kids know that the only reason that you are giving them the gift is because you love them no matter what.
2. Imagination, a Guy Who Utilizes Flying Reindeer, and a Guy Who Walks on Water
One of the most common talking points in the "anti-santa" movement is the idea that if your child finds out that Santa isn’t real, they will be confused about Jesus too. This is a classic example of thinking like an adult to solve a kid-thinking problem. This is simply not true. Kids can hold seemingly dissonant ideas in their mind in a way that adults cannot. For a child, the world is the way that they perceive it. That is why you can find a child who cries because you stepped on their imaginary cat. There is no need for explanation. No need for scientific clarification. It is true in their mind, so it is true. As we grow up, the world destroys this way of thinking by saying that things are black and white, A or B, and either true or not true. Jesus, however, exists completely outside this empirical understanding of the world. Jesus is the ultimate truth, truer than true, and the truth that cannot be proven by the scientific method. Thus, the solution is not to nix Santa in favor of understanding, but rather to uphold Jesus over and against common ways of understanding as your kids grow older.
3. Don’t Get Distracted from J.C. by Focusing Too Much on S.C.
This is ultimately the most important thing to keep in mind whether you choose to Claus or not. It is all too easy to get wrapped up in the presents, candy, lights, wassail, parties, shopping, trees, music, and everything else during the holiday season. When we do that we miss the true meaning of Christmas. Here are a few ideas that might help retain the focus:
- Sing happy birthday to Jesus.
- Read the birth story in Luke 2.
- Let your kids give gifts to someone in need.
- Take time to serve the needy on Christmas day.
- Sing Christ-focused Christmas carols as a worship gathering for your family.
- Thank Jesus for gifts.