Do you do Santa in your household?
Among Christian circles this has become a fairly heated debate recently. In fact, in the last 3 weeks I’ve seen several of my friends ask about it on social media.
There is little question that Christmas has spiraled out of control in the last 40+ years or so as a want-want-want, over-indulgent, stressful and busy time of year. Take a quick trip to your closest mall and any doubts you might have about that last statement will be assuaged – but mind you be careful getting there, it seems in the “hustle & bustle” people have forgotten how to pay attention while they drive.
The question we as Christians must ask, is how do we handle ourselves and our family at Christmas-time? Are we being salt and light this time of year? Or are we just joining in the festivities and blending in?
The Great Santa Dilemma is of primary importance in considering this time of year. Santa has become a staple of the American culture Christmas celebration, and has evolved in both tradition and folklore even in the last 10 or so years. Naomi isn’t even 1 yet, and she’s already been asked at least 15 times if she was ready for Santa to visit!
Here are some points to consider in the dilemma.
(Note to differentiate sides + is for doing Santa, – is for not doing Santa, and bold/unbold for easier reading. Some can be both, and ideas are not presented in any order, or are my opinion in the matter, but just what I’ve seen expressed as for/against.)
– Santa Claus doesn’t exist, at least not the way portrayed in stories
+ Santa does not exist today, but is loosely based off Saint Nicholas, a Christian man who gave to the poor
– Telling our kids that Santa exists is a lie, and can destroy children’s trust in us as parents when they discover this
+ Santa is fun and magical, let kids be kids and enjoy the magic of the season
– Emphasis on Santa at Christmas time, alongside the story of Jesus’s birth takes the focus off of God’s great gift
+ Depriving children the fun their peers have with Santa can cause them to be resentful
– Santa has become an idol in our culture, and worshiped over Christ
+ Not wanting your kids to spoil the fun for others
– When kids learn that Santa isn’t real, it’s an easy conclusion for them to say that Jesus who they were taught about at the same time, isn’t real either.
+ Family/friends will object to us not having Santa, so we don’t have an option
– Celebrating Santa & Jesus at the same time lends credibility to those who will tell our children later in life that Jesus is a myth
I’m sure there are more reasons on both sides of the aisle, but these tend to be the predominate ones. And all of them have some valid points that we as Christian parents must consider and evaluate.
If we choose to do Santa we must do so without making him the point of the holiday, and we must do so in a way as not to invalidate our children’s faith in Jesus and in us. We must also be ready to give them an answer when they find out that he is not real – at least not in the sense that they were told and believed.
If we choose not to do Santa we have to be prepared for how to handle the issue with family and friends. We also must be prepared to talk to our children about why we don’t participate and teach them how to respond to other children or strangers in the store. We must also be certain to celebrate and include our children in fun activities that celebrate Christ’s birth and life – though this doesn’t have to always follow the norm.
For starters this is a decision that needs to be considered as a husband and wife. It is not wise for there to be contention among the two of you on this issue so seek wisdom on this together. If you come to a different conclusion than your husband you need to be respectful of his decision – and pray for the Lord to lead your husband or you, to the right plan for your family. God will hear and He can do a mighty work! (1 Peter 3:1)
Always start with prayer – asking God to give you wisdom (James 1:5). He will answer you.
The second thing you need to ask is why you want to do Santa in your home? Or why not? What is your motivation? To fit in? To have fun with your kids? To carry on a family tradition? To please others?
We need to check our motivations whenever we are seeking wisdom (James 4:3), and then trust that God will answer our request (James 1:6).
The next thing is to always seek God’s Word. Santa is obviously not mentioned in Scripture, however there are principles that we can apply to Santa. Romans 12:2 is particularly applicable here:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
In other words, just because it’s a tradition in our culture doesn’t make it right or God honoring. We need to take time to discern His will for us and our families.
The second principle to look at is that of idol worship. Santa, like many other things, can become an idol. Here you must continually ask yourself the question is Santa becoming an idol in your life or in the lives of your children? If so this is a problem that will need to be prayerfully addressed, as it can have lasting consequences for our families, and none of us want that.
“Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their ancestors did.” 2 Kings 17:41
A 3rd verse to look at and pray over is Colossians 2:8:
“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”
For more Scriptures to check out look at this list from OpenBible.info.
In the current American culture you can’t avoid Santa. This means you have to be prepared to give your children some instruction and guidance about what your family believes and how to handle the situation with their peers.
The fact of the matter is that the Santa Claus that is portrayed in our culture today has dramatically evolved over time. The lore and tradition also varies greatly from region to region and country to country. The historical roots of Santa are found in the story of Saint Nicholas, a bishop who lived during the 3rd and 4th centuries. He was well-known for his generosity to the poor – even though he attempted to keep his giving a secret.
Sometimes it is amazing to me that a tradition that started with generosity and care of the poor has evolved into a holiday often best known by the give-me’s and selfishness. However, there is a great opportunity here to teach our children the true nature of giving seen in the story of Saint Nicholas. As I prayed over this post the last month this is something that the Lord impressed on me over and over again.
For some resources to share with your kids about Saint Nicholas, consider checking out these resources:
(Note I have not personally seen/read these resources, however by linking to Amazon you will be better able to evaluate the resources yourself through user reviews and a depth of information not found many other places. These links do contain my referral link, which means if you decide to make a purchase that at no cost to you I will receive a small commission – this helps support the cost of running Wisdom Seeking Mommy and my family. Thank you! You can see my full Disclosure Policy here.)
Some other articles that I’ve found that might be helpful in seeking wisdom on this topic are listed below:
Who Needs Santa When You’ve Got Jesus – The Matt Walsh Blog
5 Things I Want My Kids to Know About Santa Claus – Intoxicated on Life
The last step to finding wisdom, is carrying it out with action. If we don’t act upon the wisdom that God has given us we are foolish (James 1:22-24).
This is often the most challenging part in seeking out wisdom. After you’ve prayed and sought God’s will on this issue you must act upon what He has shown you – and especially with the cultural and family implications of this topic that can be a challenge. However, this debate has several valid points to consider on both sides of the aisle, and it is important that we don’t just sit idly by and let the culture or tradition make this decision for us.
Another part of knocking is that it is a repeated process. Issues like these needs to be continually sought out – asking God to reveal the motives of our hearts and actions, and those of our children, on a yearly basis. Each year as our children grow they are going to encounter a new understanding of who Santa is and we need to be prepared to answer their concerns and questions with wisdom and grace.
This is a topic that Chris and I have discussed since early in our marriage. This year, as Naomi will just be turning one, we really don’t have to worry much about Santa. However it’s something that I want to be prayerful over always as there are very valid points to consider on both sides of this dilemma.
No matter if you are for, against, or neutral in this matter it is something we all must be prayerfully prepared to guide our children in.
I have been in heavy prayer on this issue for the last month and while we have pretty much come to the conclusion that we will not be doing Santa in the traditional American style, I’m not fully convinced it’s a tradition that needs to be completely abandoned.
As I was leaving the store the other day, a gentlemen stopped and went back to his car to give me an envelope. Inside was a letter about him and his children reading “The Night Before Christmas” story every Christmas Eve, and how they’ve all grown-up to cherish that time spent together and relish the tradition each year.
It was a beautiful gesture for this man to share something that was so important to him and his family with a complete stranger. And I realized that this is the true embodiment of the Saint Nicholas story – giving that which you have to others.
We don’t have much to give this year to anyone even family and friends. But what the Lord has laid on my heart to do follows the words of Peter, “what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ,” (Acts 3:6). One thing I have to give is a message of hope that is found only in the Gift of our Savior. This is a gift we all can give.
My plan then this year is for us to be Santa in what ways we can, to all of those around us – the cashier at Krogers, the lady we pass by in the parking lot, or the man ringing the bell in the freezing cold. It’s a bit late in the season, but I plan to make some cute printable cards like I did for Halloween, that I hope to share here soon (Lord willing that Naomi gets over her cold!).
Blessings to you and your family this Christmas,
What are some ways that your family has found to deal with this dilemma?