Santa doesn’t come to our house. We don’t visit him at the mall. That is why it was a bit bewildering, especially for my younger children, when we saw him and Mrs. Claus at a restaurant on Sunday. The kids weren’t quite sure what to do. And we weren’t either, when Mr. & Mrs. Claus wanted to us to get our cameras and take pictures. So we now have a lovely shot on our cell phone of a nice, dressed up older couple with our kids.
Not having Santa as a part of our Christmas celebration did not go over very well with some family members. But for us, it was a deliberate decision. For one thing, my husband believed in him for far too long. Plus I feel like to ask our kids to believe in Jesus, but also the Easter bunny, the tooth fairy and Santa, puts Jesus on the same level as childhood traditions, rather than having Him be the central decision to life.
For many of you, Santa is a part of your celebration. I am in NO way condemning you. My friend, Alicia, had “Santa” deliver her children a letter telling about the importance of Jesus and His birth. What a beautiful way to take what the world intends as a distraction and use it as a focus on the true meaning of Christmas. In our family, we do talk about St. Nicholas and the importance of giving. This year we are learning to give anonymously to some friends, without getting a thank you in return, just like St. Nicholas tried to do so long ago. And Santa will be coming to our big (50+ people) extended family celebration just like he did when I was in child. We will sing songs about Jesus first, then Santa comes in with “Jingle Bells.” I am one of the ones that encouraged keeping that tradition.
So, why I am writing this article? And why am I stopping Santa at our home, while encouraging him to still be at our BIG family brunch? Whether we like it or not, Santa is here to stay. I am pretty sure that we are not going to be able to convince the world to go back to only focusing on the true meaning of Christmas, Jesus’ birth. There is a big contrast between Santa and Jesus after all. Somehow it is easier for many people today to believe in a big fat guy in a red suit that goes down chimneys than to believe in a little baby placed in a manager that grew up to change the world. To the world, Santa brings change for the day – new gifts and a break from everyday life. To the world, Jesus requires change for a lifetime – His gift affects everyday life every day. That is not always easy for people to accept.
As Christ followers, we need to be the ones controlling the influence the world has in our homes. Traditions can be wonderful, as long as we are the ones that are directing them, rather than letting the world determine our focus. Santa is the biggest obvious distraction, but even gingerbread houses or Christmas trees can be a problem if they take us away from Jesus.
Several years ago, I was watching a Natalie Grant Christmas concert on GMC . She was telling about how she saw a sign in someone’s yard that had a picture of Santa with the words, “I Believe.” She got really excited (evidently she really likes Santa), but then she realized something. While that sign was fun, she knew Christmas for her was really about Jesus. She wondered if she was as quick to tell others about that all important belief. The result of her ponderings was this beautiful song. http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=77K7LWNX
By the way, if you do want to tell your children about the real Saint Nicholas who lived long ago, here are a couple of great books.
The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving by Dandi Daley Mackall
Santa, are you for real? by Harold Myra (this one is older and a bit harder to find)
There is also a great Veggie tales video entitled “Saint Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving.”
God’s bl essings as you try to navigate through these tricky decisions.
P.S. I have always tried to encourage my kids that, while we do not celebrate Santa at our house other people do, so we need to not take away from their celebrations. Evidently this is not sinking in with my six year old because the other day he convinced our 3 year old to look up at Santa and say “You aren’t real.” So, if you are wanting to keep Santa as one of your traditions, maybe don’t come around my six year old until January.