“Mommy, is it wrong to let little kids believe in Santa?”
My 9-year-old looked at me confused. Is there something wrong with pretending he brings presents? Is it bad? The idea of disrespecting the birth of Jesus by playing Santa was heavy on his little Jesus-loving heart.
The age-old Christian struggle of “whether to participate in Santa or not” was now plaguing my own son.
For years, I saw my parents struggle with the same issue. Religion preaches “don’t you dare play Santa,” but freedom in Christ tells us otherwise.
I’ve realized over the years Santa isn’t the issue, it’s the immense focus on him.
Santa Claus and the tradition actually began with St. Nicholas, who was a monk born around 280 AD in Turkey. It is said he inherited a large sum of money and gave it all away. Because of his generosity, his popularity grew, and eventually St. Nicholas morphed into Santa Claus. Time added the North Pole and the elves to the Santa Claus lore, but the heart of giving was St. Nicholas’s original attribute.
Every family should follow their own convictions, but maybe if you are against Santa in your home, you may actually be convicted about the lack of focus on Christ year round. It’s amazing to me how many of those that shun the idea of playing Santa Claus haven’t been to church or cracked open their Bibles in months.
Before we make judgements about Santa Claus, shouldn’t we check to see if we are celebrating the birth of Christ all year? If we cannot answer yes to participating in hope the birth of Jesus brought all year, maybe we should cool it on the Santa conviction.
In our home there is a heavy emphasis on the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus. Year round, our children are taught the value of the cross and the sacrifice of Jesus. They know that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, so when it comes to Christmas there is absolutely no question about the true reason for the season.
They aren’t caught off guard when we go get pictures with Santa. They don’t get confused when we read “The Night Before Christmas” because they already know that Santa is something we play, but Jesus Christ is the Way. The only person that can make Jesus the center of Christmas in your home is you.
As our older children look forward to their younger siblings celebrating Christmas this year, I smile when I hear them tell our 2-year-olds that “Santa is something we play.” Does that take away the fun of it? NO.
We have never perpetuated that Santa is real. When our kids began asking questions about Santa, we responded with, “Santa is a fun way to give. He isn’t real.” I will tell you though, there have been a few times when my husband has crawled on the roof to make the sound of reindeer.
My husband and I have definitely eaten 13 years’ worth of cookies and carrots on Christmas Eve when the kids have gone to bed. Because it’s something fun to pretend.
I looked at my son and said, “Son, what is Christmas really about?”
He immediately replied, “The birth of Jesus.”
After his response, I was able to tell him, then, no, Santa isn’t bad.
This Christmas the focus of Christ will be heavily taught in our home, as it is every year. We will read the Christmas story together and celebrate the birth of our King Jesus. We will also play a little Santa, knowing the kids are already grounded in the true meaning of Christmas.
Autumn Miles is the author of “Appointed: Your Future Starts Now” and the founder and CEO of The Blush Network, a conference ministry dedicated to spiritually challenging the way women think. Autumn is an accomplished speaker who leads women’s conferences nationwide through The Blush Network. She is also the host of “The Autumn Miles Show,” a Christian radio show on Salem Radio Network in Dallas, Texas and sits on the advisory council for the women’s ministry department at Liberty University.