My daughter does not believe in Santa Claus. To some, this is an obvious move. To others, this is a shock. What’s the deal? Am I some sort of anti-holiday Scrooge? Am I some sort of overzealous fundamentalist? Why in the world would I not have my six-year-old believe in Santa?
Though most of my blog posts are either connections of things I find interesting on the web or personal devotional thoughts, I thought it might be worth a couple of minutes simply to share the process that my wife and I went through in deciding our answer to the big question: To Santa or not to Santa. Since you know the answer already, let me very briefly tell you the reasoning that made the no Santa policy in my home. Then, I will share with you a bit of how we deal with Santa.
Christmas is a holiday that has been highly over-commercialized in the US for years. People focus on winter, on trees, on lights, on gifts, and not on Jesus. And you know what, none of those are the reasons why my family did not tell my daughter that Santa was real.
Here is my bottom line reasoning: If I tell my daughter to believe in a figure that she cannot see, that he watches her from afar, that he judges her motives and actions, that he has supernatural powers, and that he will visit her with gifts every Christmas, she will eventually find out that I have intentionally told her to believe in something that is not true. This fact will not do much for my credibility in telling her true things about God, who is invisible to her, who watches over her though she cannot sense it, who judges her thoughts and actions, and who will bless her with eternal blessings if she will follow Christ. So, simply put, my wife and I have determined that we will never tell our daughter that something is true when it is not, because it is far too important that she be able to believe us when we tell her some things are true that she cannot see.
How do we deal with Santa and Santa stuff? It’s quite simple. Ever since Abigail was tiny, we have worked to distinguish the difference between true stories and pretend ones. In our house, if a story begins with “A long time ago. . . ,” it is a true story. If a story begins with, “Once upon a time. . . ,” it is a pretend story. She has done surprisingly well making those distinctions. She can still enjoy the stories that she knows are not real just as any child can.
Since my daughter has no trouble enjoying that which she knows not to be real, my wife and I do not get all crabby when a family member wraps a Christmas gift and puts “From: Santa” on the label. We do not find ourselves upset when she wants a musical Rudolph toy from Wal-Mart. We do not get bent out of shape when a Santa ornament makes its way onto a tree near us. We don’t even mind taking snapshots of her sitting on the knee of a portly, bearded guy in a red, fuzzy suit once a year.
I think that you can tell from what I’ve already written, but just in case it is not clear, Mitzi and I do not look at our decision about Santa as the only possible one. This is a matter of conscience and preference. There is not Scripture that states, “Thou shalt not ho, ho, ho.” I grew up believing in Santa, and it really didn’t harm my worldview that much (so far as I can tell). But, for me and my house, we have simply made a decision that we want our children to know that Mommy and Daddy will always tell them the truth, and that trumps our desires to have beaming little people listening for sleigh bells on Christmas Eve.
Oh, and in case you are wondering, we also try our best to keep our child from being the one who spoils it for others. Abigail has been told in no uncertain terms that she is not to correct the Santaology of other children. So far, so good. We’ll have to see how Josiah handles it when he is old enough to play the spoiler role.
So, what about you? Believers, how have you handled this issue? Have you thought it through? I’d love to hear your reasoning for the choice that you have made or will make for your family.