Late this last summer my husband and I started a discussion about Christmas. We had some concerns relating from the previous Christmas that weighed on us. That Christmas our son and only child then, believed in Santa. It was his first year he “believed.” We did reindeer food, cookies on the plate, and discussed how Santa would visit homes without fireplaces. Santa, of course, left the “cool” gift as well. It was fun and exciting for him.
Then we asked him, “What is Christmas about?” His response was not what we wanted to hear, “Santa Claus!” Our hearts sank. In our house we try our very best to keep Christ in the center, everyday. And when Christmas, the holiday set aside to celebrate our Saviors birth, becomes more about someone else instead of who it is really for, we have a problem.
Our solution: The truth about Santa.
There were other reasons we had for not doing Santa besides keeping Christmas about Jesus. Another, and a big one, was truth. Here we were as Christians, lying to our child. We teach our kids that lying is wrong, yet here we are telling a whopper! With truth comes integrity and crediblity. I want my kids to be able to come to me with anything and know that I will be upfront and truthful with them everytime.
I have to say, the truth has set us free! No more keeping Santa gifts separate from ours, no more keeping track of which wrapping paper is Santa paper, and no more using Santa as a way to get our kids to behave! We have the same expectations on behavior at Christmas as well as the rest of the year. It is a lot of work keeping up the charade!
Not only that, Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, are all fictional characters that we tell our kids are real. Yet, we still want them to believe in God, who they can not see or touch. Once they find out the truth, we have successfully instilled doubt into their little minds. What else has mom and dad told me that isn’t true? If Santa isn’t real, then God must be made up too!
We never did the Easter Bunny. So that was never an issue for us. We do Resurrection Eggs, and make Resurrection Rolls. We watch movies and read books that tell the story of Jesus’ resurrection. Why it was so easy to eliminate the Easter Bunny, but never thinking about Santa, I don’t know, but I am glad we finally did before our kids got too old. Better late than never, I suppose.
Many may think we totally deflated the Christmas spirit in our kids. Not at all! If anything, I think we we made it better! Christ’s birth is made the focal point, we learn the true story of Saint Nicholas, we make giving more important than getting and our son enjoyed this Christmas just as much as he did last year. When asked what Christmas was about this year, he answered, “Jesus’ birthday!”
We still let him watch the Polar Express and other movies that include Santa, but he thinks of Santa no differently than Sleeping Beauty, or any other Disney movie. He knows that Santa is a tradition based on a real man named Nicholas who was honored as a Saint because he gave generously to those in need. Do we take him to see “Santa”, no. That is another subject to be left for another time.
When we told Wyatt the truth, he took it very well. He wasn’t heartbroken by what he heard at all. We also told him that other kids still believe and it isn’t our place to tell them so, we told him not to bring the matter up, but if he was asked if he believed he should not lie. Most of the time it is the adults that bring up Santa, not the kids.
I am very happy with our decision and am finding a lot of other families have already or will be taking the same approach. It is something worth considering and I hope more families do.