“Do not let the world around you squeeze you into its mold.” Romans 12:2a Phillips
Sometimes we can make decisions automatically without any thought. We grab the same deodorant, same toothpaste, same type of bread. (Unless of course you only buy what’s on sale … oops – I’ll stop digressing). Anyway, when it comes to decisions that we make for our families, sometimes we need to turn off the auto pilot and really ponder what is best. Below is my edited reflection on how my family handles Santa Claus. I am not sharing this because I think my ideas are the best but more as a challenge – what is best for your family? What is God calling you to do? Just because the world thinks that Christmas should include a jolly old man who likes chimneys does not mean that you have to invite him in. But that doesn’t mean you have to exclude him either … Back to my personal reflections.
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 last December when we saw him and Mrs. Claus at a restaurant on a 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 for awhile, we had a lovely shot on our cell phone of a nice, dressed up older couple we didn’t know with our kids.
Just to clarify – we are not against Santa. Every year we watch “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.” I rather like the new show, “Prep and Landing.” And I think Elf is hilarious. While listening to Christmas music in my house, you will still here “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” But while Santa may appear occasionally on our television or through our radio, he is not given much emphasis or thought. Especially not on the night before Christmas – we have a birthday party for Jesus then.
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, without getting a thank you in return, just like St. Nicholas tried to do so long ago. Santa will be visiting the holiday celebration we are attending on Saturday with some good friends. His attendance almost stopped us for wanting to go, but only because I am a bit nervous that my kids might ruin it for the Santa believers.
So, why I am writing this article? And why am I okay with Santa in certain situations, then not in others? 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. But, after all there is a big contrast between Santa and Jesus. 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
If you want to explain to your children why there even is a Santa Claus, teaching them about the historical Saint Nicholas is a good place to start. But, besides being patterned after him, Santa Claus was possibly also partially patterned after King Wenceslas (yes, the one from the song). Interestingly enough, both of those men were known for giving to the poor, not for giving children every wish that they desired. If you would like to learn more about either man, here are some 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)
Good King Wenceslas by J.M. Neale (at the library)
There is also a great Veggie tales video entitled “Saint Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving.”
God’s blessings as you try to navigate through these tricky decisions. As you carefully ponder what works for your family, God will direct your steps.