Do you do Santa? If you're a Christian and have kids, you've been asked that question! Or have asked it yourself.
Growing up my family "did Santa". Some of my favorite memories are of my parents creating magical moments at Christmas time! I remember one Christmas, my sisters and I were asleep in the same room and my dad rang jingle bells outside our window to make us believe Santa was here! Another year we set up a video camera to "catch" Santa but of course he outsmarted us with his Christmas magic and found his way behind the camera using it to video all of the toys he laid out for us!
Luke didn't grow up "doing Santa". His family had their own beautiful Christmas traditions but Santa wasn't part of the mix.
We both grew up celebrating Jesus' birth at Christmas!
So you can imagine that when Luke and I started having kids, the debate about whether or not we would "do Santa" with them was intense! My desire to create the same magical Christmas moments with my kids was strong and Luke's desire to keep the focus strictly on Jesus was equally as important.
Neither of us were prepared to fully budge so we landed on the idea that we wouldn't push Santa but we weren't going to fiercely deny his existence either.
Fortunately it would work out that as our first two daughters came to the age of curiosity about Santa, they only talked about him casually and were not concerned about verifying his existence. That is, until Mya. Mya always has and still does love all things magical! Unicorns, fairies, princesses, the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny, and Santa! She wants all of it to be real!
Last Christmas was the first time she really wanted to talk about Santa! Is he real? Does he bring presents? Where does he live? How does he get down the chimney? We decided to tell her the story about St. Nicholas and the fun that people have pretending Santa is real. We did this without actually saying, "Santa isn't real." Mostly because we don't want our kids to run around telling every kid they encounter that he doesn't exist!
Despite our explanations, she hung tight to his existence. I love her imagination! So last Christmas the kids and I watched every Christmas movie that includes Santa and all of his magic! She was absolutely enthralled! It's all she talked about! In fact, she was so tuned into Santa that when we started to talk about Jesus, she was bored! She would listen but quickly turned the conversation to the man in the red suit who promised gifts and Christmas magic!
Our attempts at bringing her back down to reality were met with real tears! "I want Santa to be real!" She would cry. "I want him to bring me presents!" "Santa is the best!" Oye!
How could a baby born in a manger compete with a jolly old man with flying reindeer and a magical sack of presents? It was then that I felt a strong conviction about my role in helping my children see that God coming in the form of a helpless baby in order to save the entire world is THE SINGLE most amazing thing about Christmas. And anything shiny that distracts them from this truth needs to be handled carefully.
Just as adults battle so many distractions that compete for our loyalty and attention over Christ, there are plenty of distractions competing for our children's attention. It's not that I am against imagination or magical fun. But I have come to the decision that if the magic draws attention away from Jesus, it's probably best avoided.
Neither Santa nor the Easter bunny can hold a candle to the glory and power of Jesus Christ!
Now I realize that many of you reading this include Santa in your Christmas celebration and I assure you that there's no judgement here. And rest assured, I have let my children know that it's not up to them to "enlighten" other kids about Santa. Ultimately, each family will need to make their own decision in the great Santa debate!
Regardless of where you land, in this season of Christmas, point your children to the helpless baby in the manger every chance you get. Because that baby is the greatest gift they will EVER receive.
"Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited and redeemed his people. He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David, just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago." -Luke 1:68-70
I'm Just Saying...