Thursday, December 11, 2008

Santa....Is He Real In Your Family?

I thought I'd start out this post with a cute pic of my brother with Santa in Iraq. Love you, Jon!

I also want to take a moment to say that the opinions expressed in this post are just that, opinions. I mean no condemnation or bad will to other parents who choose to take a contradictory viewpoint. This is just the path that my husband and I have chosen to take for our family.

We treat Santa like any other fictional character. Notice I said fictional. We don't tell Grace that Santa is real. We don't write letters to Santa. We don't try to make her believe that if she is a good little girl, then St. Nick will bring her presents on Christmas Day. When we see Santa at the mall, we tell her that someone is dressed up and pretending to be Santa.

That said, we don't necessarily shun all things Santa, either. I have a couple of Santa ornaments on the tree that people have given me over the years. I have a hand-painted Santa sitting on my fireplace mantle. Grace has a Santa book that she likes to read over and over....I've even taken a few pictures with Santa through the years.

We have chosen to take this path for three main reasons:

1. We want Christmas to be focused on Jesus. When Grace thinks of Christmas, we want the nativity story to come first to her mind, not Santa Claus. We have lots of Christmas books that tell the story of Jesus's birth. We talk about why we celebrate show joy for God's precious gift, the coming of our Savior! While we participate in many traditions of the season (Christmas tree, presents, decorations), we are constantly verbalizing the "reason for the season."

2. We don't want to lie to Grace. I know that many people don't consider the Santa fantasy a lie, but we can't help but feel uncomfortable with it. How will she feel when she finds out one day that mommy and daddy spent so much effort building up something that turned out to be untrue? It's an issue of trust. We want Grace to know that we are honest and truthful with her in all areas.

3. And this leads me to my third reason....Grace's perception of God. This might be a stretch for some people, but in the mind of a child I believe that this is valid. I have heard and read testimonies of many people who admitted that when they found out their parents had been lying to them about Santa Claus, they wondered if God was a lie, too? Is God real? We would rather err on the side of caution in this area as we have no desire to be a stumbling block on Grace's spiritual journey.

So, for these reasons we have decided to not let Santa play a major role in our holiday celebration. To Grace, Santa is just another fictional character like Mickey Mouse or Cinderella.

I realize that our stance on Santa might become more difficult as Grace gets older. I certainly do not want her to ruin another child's Santa fantasy. We want to respect the choices that other families make in this area. So, we will enforce that she is not allowed to argue with others about the "realness" of Santa and she is not to purposefully tell someone that believes in Santa that he is not real.

Above all, we want to keep our celebration of Christmas honorable to God. I love the Christmas season so much that I often find myself focusing too much on the decorations, parties, baking, and shopping. I want Grace to see that all of my preparations during this time of the year highlight the birth of Jesus. So, I am praying that God will guard my heart to keep things simple and focused.

I realize that the topic of Santa can quickly become a controversial topic, especially in the blogworld. Even if you hold a different viewpoint than me, I invite anyone who reads this post to respectfully comment on your family's approach to Santa during the holiday season. Merry Christmas to all!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My step daughter is 34 so that was a long time ago. But she was very bright and figured out very early that Santa wasn't real. If I had small children now I really like your approach, and would probably take your method.