Thinking through Santa

I was talking to a group of women the other day about their best Christmas memories as a child, and most included cute, heart-warming stories that in some way included Santa. How they found out about Santa, or how certain gifts were wrapped with special “Santa” paper while the family presents had different gift wrapping. Someone mentioned how it’s not a big deal to tell your kids about Santa, and if anything they SHOULD be told about him since it will give your kids a sense of the goodness of people and it will give them precious memories to look back on.

I’ve thought a lot about this and the entire idea of the benefits of telling my children about Santa. Very godly people who love the LORD believe very different things about this jolly man, but our family decided ever since we started having children, that we were staunchly a “No Santa” family. Of course, we have told our kids about St. Nick and the stories that have made him popular (i.e. Santa is not taboo for us, we’ve just been forthcoming about who he is). We don’t hate Santa or anything, but we’ve always felt very convicted about celebrating Christ’s birth at Christmas rather than adding the additional Santa factor. I love the idea behind igniting the imagination and having our children think about things more than just in a “black and white” way, but Santa has been off-limits. Our children have always known that there is no such thing as Santa Claus.

Now we’re not completely against imaginary bestowers of small gifts. We actually have told our kids all about the tooth fairy. We never lie to our children, but we’ve told them that the tooth fairy will give them money if they put their tooth under the pillow. We just don’t mention who exactly the tooth fairy is. So what’s the main difference between the tooth fairy and Santa? Both are completely made up. Both bring our children gifts. But the difference stems from the fact that Santa happens to coincide with an extremely important time, which is the celebration of Christ’s birth.

God incarnate. King of kings. LORD of lords. As Christians, at Christmas, we celebrate the coming of our Savior. At the time of His birth, the powerful felt threatened and tried to exterminate Him. The lowly felt hope and came to praise Him. The spiritual felt jubilation and came to bring Him gifts and adore Him. But if we know Who He is today, as Believers, we should be full of thankfulness and praise to Him, and not sharing His glory with anyone else.

I’m sure many of you may be thinking just because we celebrate Santa doesn’t mean we can’t jointly celebrate Jesus. But this is only true to a point. The problem that I see is that Santa is celebrated because He brings us gifts based on how good we are. And Jesus is celebrated because He came to give us the most precious gift of all, life everlasting, because of how good HE is. There’s a huge difference, and because of how each one of us is wired, I think it’s hard to celebrate both without leaning towards Santa. Santa makes us feel good about ourselves, essentially allowing us to honor ourselves. Jesus calls us to a much higher duty, which is to honor and worship HIM.

Several years and many children ago, we spent our Christmas in Cambodia (we were on that side of the world, and it happened to work out with frequent flier miles!). Ankor Watt is beyond beautiful, but extremely impoverished. As we walked around, we would frequently be surrounded by young children trying to sell us whatever trinket they could get their hands on. One little boy bravely approached us and asked us to buy some postcards off of him for one U.S. dollar. We agreed, and asked if the boy wouldn’t mind taking a picture with our boys. He said yes, and we snapped the picture (thus the attached picture). We gave him the dollar and told him he could keep his postcards too. He was so shocked and excited! Such a precious reaction. He ran off, shoeless, we noticed, to his friends. We quickly left, hoping not to be surrounded. We are not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, but at that moment, I felt as if we were embarrassingly rich. I explained to our children how grateful we should all be for all that we had. God is good, but I couldn’t help think those kids are just as precious as mine are. Where is Santa for them? Where is their hope? Do they know about Jesus?

That very evening, my kids started asking about when they’d be able to get their Christmas gifts. I was like, “You can’t be serious.” I was shocked. Granted, I shouldn’t have been, since I had been a mom long enough to know better, but I just couldn’t believe my children, to whom I JUST explained how blessed beyond belief they were, were asking for more. They essentially felt entitled to more. And this coming from children who knew there’s no such thing as Santa, and they even had just seen true poverty and should have been beyond thankful for what they already had! This is the perfect example of how if we’re not painfully intentional about how we celebrate Christmas and WHY we celebrate Christmas, our fallen nature just points us straight to thinking about what we’re getting in the short term rather than focusing on and celebrating what we’ve already received eternally.

My children, that little boy in Cambodia, and anyone on this earth has available to them the very best gift of all, and it has nothing to do with Santa Claus. We have been given the most amazing gift that will continue to give for all of eternity, based on absolutely nothing we’ve done. That is truly something worth celebrating no matter where in the world you are. So give a high five to those Santa’s out there, but keep your and your family’s focus on the true meaning of Christmas. Walk boldly, together, celebrating the amazing gift of Jesus.

©2024 Mud Hen Mama


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