It always happens this time of year. The great Santa debate. You won’t find me preaching to anyone that Santa is an anagram of Satan (Seriously?). You won’t find me judging or criticizing. I generally try my best to avoid the subject. How you choose to celebrate this season–or not–is completely your decision and I respect it.
However, concerning our decision to forego the big guy in the red suit, we have (mostly) not received the same respect. The most popular accusation is that we are “robbing our kids of their childhood,” “ruining their childhood” Or, simply, “I can’t believe you’d do that to your kids.”
So, I thought I’d take some time today and explain exactly why it is that we choose to “do this” to our kids. There are many posts that have been written about the subject from women far more eloquent than I (like this one and this one), but these are some of the reasons personal to us.
Note: I recently saw an article titled “Why Santa belongs in your kids’ Christmas.” It focused, not on the author’s personal choice, but on why everyone else should make the same choice. Unlike that article, this post is not why you shouldn’t celebrate Santa. It’s why we don’t. And that is a big difference that sometimes gets overlooked. So, again…here are our reasons for not doing Santa.
1. Jesus is Enough.
This is one of the biggest things for me. I can’t get past this issue because it is so far-reaching. This idea that Jesus is not enough. We constantly act as if we need to subsidize the gospel with trendiness, programs, bells and whistles. We see this even in our churches. We live in a materialistic and consumer-driven society where we are always craving more—more stuff, more glitz. Bigger and grander things.
Baby Jesus in a manger isn’t very shiny. That message seems humble, simple, and dull compared to the glitz around us.
A big guy in a red suit who lives in the North Pole with hundreds of elves, flies around in a sled with reindeer, and brings kids everything they ask for? That’s shiny. That’s a message we can get excited about, and get our kids excited about.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Jesus is enough. He is enough at Christmas time. He’s enough all year long. The gospel message is enough. Period. He doesn’t need dressing up. We don’t need more, we just need Him–at Christmas and beyond.
Yes, we can tell our kids all day long that Christmas is about Jesus, but when our focus is Santa and lots of gifts, what message are they really getting? (Jennifer Hatmaker shares some great thoughts about this)
2. Santa is often given qualities of God.
I remember watching a made-for-TV Christmas movie a few years ago, and I was struck by the description of Santa. As I watched, I thought to myself, that is how we describe our Lord and Savior. It’s almost as if Santa has become a secular substitute for Christ.
And before you think I’m losing my mind with this one, I posted an article a couple weeks ago on my facebook page, and one of the commenters stated that she is not a Christian and uses Santa to teach love, giving, and kindness to her children.
We don’t have to use Santa for these things–Jesus is the real thing!
This goes for the “magic” as well. We don’t have to manufacture magic for our kids. Our lives are full of it. Except it’s not a false, fleeting kind. It comes in the form of miracles and it is real. It’s forever. It’s not something we’ll lose when we’re 8 and can never get back. That’s exciting!
I’ve shared before how Christmas is a relatively simple affair for us. I’ve seen arguments for Santa that say things like “he inspires giving.” But in truth, that’s not what I see in practice. The focus of Santa is on what he is bringing for them. That has nothing to do with giving, not really.
Yes, the real St. Nicholas was a benevolent man, and we teach our children about the real historical legends that the current day Santa is loosely based on. We try to help our kids learn to practice giving.
But focusing on what the guy in the red suit will bring for them doesn’t exactly foster that, in our opinion.
4. It’s a lie.
I know this is a hot topic, but for me, there is just no way around it. We don’t intentionally lie to our children. We tell them the truth in an age-appropriate, gentle way that they can understand. Telling them that some guy in a red suit brought their presents is just not true. Period. We want them to trust us. We don’t want to teach them about all the bigger-than-life characters and events of the Bible and have them doubt it all once they realize that we worked pretty hard to teach them the “truth” of this Santa guy, and that was all just make-believe.
So, what do we do with Santa?
With all this said, it would be pretty impossible for us to completely avoid Santa. He’s everywhere! We teach our kids about the historical St. Nicholas. In our family, the modern-day Santa is a figure similar to those in their favorite cartoons–he is a make-believe character.
And, I’ll just add here that my husband and I both did Santa as kids and, yes, as they say…we are fine. I was always a very practical child so I don’t think I really believed for that long anyway. We don’t personally hold anything at all against our parents, this is just the conclusion that we have come to for our family.