Thoughts on Santa…should our family do it? Should we not? A question I have thought myself many Christmases and been asked numerous times this year in conversations with other moms. It’s a hot topic right now. I have been thinking about it for a while, and by no means have I arrived at the perfect answers, but I do have some thoughts about it…
If this subject intrigues you or your indecision had you click on this post, you probably find yourself in one of two places: Either, you did Santa as a child, (maybe it was even a bit over-the-top) making you question it for your kids now, or you didn’t do Santa as a child and feel you missed out on a fun tradition you now want for your kids. I am a combo of the two I think, with Santa being a much bigger deal in my youth than we make it for our kids, even still, wanting the fun experience for them. But maybe you are neither of those —like my husband—your family never did Santa, and you never felt you missed out then and still don’t to this day for your kids…you simply are reading this out of pure curiosity.
Wherever you find yourself on the subject, let me first say….most importantly above ALL else, Christmas is about JESUS! HE IS the REASON for the SEASON, the top priority—and all the fun traditions: santa, elves on the shelves, baking, crafts and gifts, come AFTER Him! If you get this right with your family, everything else—all of the decisions and opinions—will fall in their rightful places of priority BEHIND what is most important. In fact, I am a firm believer that even in the “fun” stuff, we can still always include the story of Jesus…in our crafts, bed-time stories, discussing the nativity story while we ice cookies, asking questions about it traveling to see family and talking about the joy of giving with our kids, whether Santa is a part of that or not. Ultimately, what I tell my boys and they could tell you this by heart….when I ask them this question—“Why do we give gifts to one another at Christmas?” They would reply: “Because Jesus was the greatest gift, and we are celebrating Him.” Yes it’s a SIMPLE question. So simple, that even a 7 and 4 year old know the answer, (not just because I ask them over and over) and they are beginning to understand what that actually means.
With that being said, Santa does come to our house, but he is a bit of a minimalist. 🙂 In my (selfish and very much personal) opinion, my husband and I want the credit for the thought (and money…let’s be honest here) that goes into their “biggest or best” gifts we get them—which we also limit (but that is another post on gratitude for another day.) In addition, later on when they are older and not “believing” in Santa any longer, it doesn’t effect or mess up their memories of their favorite gifts/experiences, since Santa was just fun and never did anything that significant at our house anyway…if that makes sense? My sister and I were talking about this and how hard it was for me (being the oldest) to have found out several years before her about Santa….and it was such a BIG deal at our house growing up in the quality and quantity of gifts, that it was hard for me to enjoy it for her still “believing.” I have some more thoughts on this transition phase as well that I will get to in a minute.
With Santa already being a minimalist in our home now, as I mentioned above, My 7 year old informed me this year that: “Santa only brings small things, because he couldn’t fit everything in his bag if everyone got big things from him.” I laughed but was totally okay with his insight and logic behind this statement for many reasons. You see, I didn’t tell him this information, nor anything else outright about Santa really ever….he just kind of imagines it up, sees it on a Christmas movie or hears it from other kids at school. It is what it is. Kids have big imaginations….they like to dream and that’s fun! That’s why Disney is a billion dollar corporation. You don’t have to train a little girl to want to sing and dress up like Elsa from Frozen, make a baby like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or teach a little boy to seek adventure like Peter Pan or wanting to be Spiderman. Even as an adult, Disney is still a magical place and watching the classics like Cinderella and Jungle Book from my childhood, still bring back great memories to me. And I’m not devastated by the fact that I can’t sing like Cinderella, that birds and mice don’t talk to me, or how I know now that glass slippers would be insanely uncomfortable! All of that to say—it’s just fun—and somehow that big dose of childhood imagination and reason for how all of those things were possible fades in a healthy and realistic way as we grow up. Santa can be like that. If he is only treated and explained to be a fun, imaginative person or character at Christmas—the reindeer, north pole—all of it—whatever your kids come up with. It can all be fun and looked back on without them being majorly messed up…it’s all how you handle it. Letting your child do the imagining—NOT YOU doing it for them or planting ideas in their heads. In the same way Santa will be discovered or fade with time in a healthy and realistic way as they mature.
That being said, this is very IMPORTANT: when they ask—and they will—not the silly questions like “how does Santa get down our chimney with a fire going?” kind of questions…but the real question…”IS SANTA REAL?” And they are serious and mature enough to mean business: DO NOT LIE TO THEM! Tell them the truth…always! This is where I think the line gets blurred a lot. As a parent, DON’T get caught up in being the dreamer or imagineer FOR your children’s view on Santa—this will only trap you into making up stories -or- as they may see it later…lying to them. So, when they ask you funny questions, like “how does Santa and the reindeer fly?”….just turn the question back to them in your reply like this, “how do you think they do it?” And let them tell you with all of their childhood imagination and wonder. It’s quite entertaining really, and they are in no short supply and need no help in coming up with it. This also keeps you as being a part of the fun, without lying and when the time comes, telling them the truth without having any lies to apologize for.
In addition to this, the real fear in parents that go too far in making-up and instilling these ideas for their children, is not the let down that it brings the kids….it’s much more….
I had a friend who said she was getting older and seriously questioning Santa, and her parents promised he was real and went as far as to get up on the roof to stomp around like it was reindeer on Christmas night. What?! They absolutely meant her no harm I know, but you never want your kids to think that you have lied to them. Everything you work so hard for to teach and instill in them about JESUS, not just at Christmas, but everyday, you NEVER want them to question that or hold belief in Santa, or anything for that matter, on the same level as believing in JESUS! Santa is just fun…..JESUS IS LIFE. Ultimately, Santa or no Santa in your home, do whatever you have to do to make sure that JESUS is what they hear about from you above ALL else—with Christmas being no different! Tell them what you know is true about JESUS, what He has done in your life, and that Bible stories (the nativity specifically at Christmas) are ALL true and REALLY happened. They can’t imagine or make up a God that would send His own son to die for them…but praise God it is TRUE! However they can imagine or make up things like Santa, princesses and superheroes without any help because they are not true…see the difference?
If you are unsure about Santa or fairytales all together, because they are pretty much the same level in our home, then pray through it. Ultimately, God gave your children to you and your spouse and has trusted you to raise them to know Him. That is the goal. Whether Santa is a fun memory for them later on, or he is never a part of your home, it will make no difference if the MAIN THING IS KEPT THE MAIN THING—AND THAT IS JESUS. Just like Deut. 11:19 says, “Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.” Teach them about Jesus. That is your responsibility, not to imagine for them….kids need no help in this department.
Personally I think imagination is fun and big part of being a kid and that is why we do “Santa.” Anything beyond buying the few presents he brings—and I mean few: a couple of books, some candy, a stuffed animal and a hoodie or something and that’s all—the rest they get from us (the parents) and can dream up all they want about Santa or whatever else and have fun with it! Any superhero, princess, Santa or elf on the shelf (honestly seems like way too much work for me haha) will be from their own childhood imagination bank of memories that they dreamed up. All of these are just what they are..fun memories. As an adult, there should be a BIG difference between fun memories and a God that is living and REAL part of their everyday life!
One more thing I said I would expound on earlier…for those first born children especially, that like their plans and details and find out before their younger siblings, explain all that I have just shared to them. Especially if they have already accepted Jesus into their heart, they need to hear you tell them all of this. As far as still enjoying Christmas and satisfying their need to be included, let them help you shop for their siblings and dream up fun things to do for them. Share with them the original story of St. Nick https://www.history.com/topics/christmas/santa-claus and how he was a monk known for his kindness and generosity in giving to others. Tell them that story and encourage them to find ways to be generous and thoughtful at Christmas to siblings, friends in need at school or neighbors—kind of like a secret Santa if you will—with the main purpose to bless others. This will also lead them back to the truth of the joy of giving and the Gospel.
Like I said to begin with, I have no perfect answers….but I know it is something this generation of parents is thinking and talking a lot about, and I think that is really great! Nothing has to be done the way it has always been done—sometimes a change , a new focus or less emphasis on something is a good thing. I hope you found my thoughts helpful, but that ultimately you do whatever the Lord tells you to do. I would love to read your comments or ideas of what you and your family do/have done as well!