A few weeks ago as the holiday season loomed ahead, I decided I wanted to do a cute little post on Santa. Just for kicks, I asked a couple of people their opinions on doing Santa for their children. Yeah, to say their stances conflicted is an understatement.
This intrigued me. I decided to post an anonymous survey to get even more parents’ opinions on Santa. I was completely blown away by the response I received. People have very strong opinions on the jolly ol’ man! Over 100 responses later, here are some of the results:
Will you tell your children that there is a Santa?
Will you give your children gifts that are exclusively from Santa?
What is your biggest fear regarding Santa?
45% My children will be devastated when they discover he isn’t real
42% It will distract from the true meaning of Christmas
13% It will cause my children to become selfish or greedy
Will you encourage your children to write letters to Santa?
Did you believe in Santa?
I added a section for people to comment with their personal thoughts. Many people made points that I had never even considered before. Here are some of the most intriguing comments for both the pros and the cons of promoting Santa in their households:
Santa represents the spirit of giving-
“Each year we go to Walmart and spend $100 on toys to donate…We want our children to realize that there is a little Santa in all of us and that his spirit is what we celebrate….We think the spirit of giving is what Santa is all about.”
“The boys understood that the reason gifts were shared at Christmas is in celebration of Jesus’ birth and a way of honoring our own love of family and friends by giving gifts like the Magi did for the Christ child. As they aged, they would ask if we were Santa, we said yes and they would delight in helping keep the magic of the season alive for their siblings”
Santa brings magic to the season–
“I personally love the spirit and magic of Santa and want my daughter to experience the wonder & excitement…I won’t use Santa as a disciplinary tool (i.e. if you are bad, Santa won’t bring you presents).”
Santa is a story character like Mickey Mouse–
“We explain to our children the origin of St. Nick…focusing primarily on the purpose of gift giving and not receiving because the tradition stems from God giving us the greatest gift of all, Jesus. We talk about ideas of what to get for each other and spend time picking out the perfect gift…that way they can feel the joy of giving a gift that they’ve thought long and hard about..We aren’t anti-Santa, but they understand it is a story like Mickey Mouse”
Telling my children about Santa would be lying to them–
“As a Christian, I can’t in good conscience tell my child to believe in Santa Claus and then try to tell them about Jesus and how He is real even though you can’t see or feel Him. Whenever they find out Santa isn’t real, why would they want to believe Jesus is real?”
“We just have a 100% honesty policy- we can’t justify making exceptions. My husband grew up in a very manipulative home and trust is of utmost importance to us.”
Santa takes away from the true meaning of Christmas-
“Santa is a mock up of God, sharing many of the same attributes. It devalues the power and majesty of God”
“I want my children to know the true meaning of Christmas, to value the act of giving gifts and the hard work we do for them leading up to Christmas. Some big guy in a suit isn’t taking care of and providing for them, we are. They may be missing out on some fun, but I think they will be better off in the end.”
So, after reviewing all of the survey entries and doing a little reflecting and research on my own, here is my stance:
Our faith will always be the center of the season
In our home, we believe that Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus. Giving gifts is a representation of the gifts that the wisemen brought to Jesus as a child, as well as a reflection of our love and appreciation for family and friends.
Everything we do during the holiday season will revolve around our faith. From gift giving, volunteering for charity, baking cookies with grandma, seeing lights, and decorating the tree. I hope to center these fun events around enjoying time with family and being grateful for the opportunity to do so.
Saint Nicholas was, more likely than not, an actual person
Many people stated they felt that telling their children about Santa would be an outright lie. After reading several articles on the history of Santa Claus (clearly I have no life and was dedicated to the legitmacy of this blog), history.com summed it up the best:
“The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back hundreds of years. It is believed that a monk named St. Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. Much admired for his piety and kindness, St. Nicholas became the subject of many legends. It is said that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick, as well as children. Over the course of many years, Nicholas’s popularity spread and he became known as the protector of children and sailors. His feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of his death, December 6. This was traditionally considered a lucky day to make large purchases or to get married.”
There are several more articles explaining the evolution of the story and how it came to be a part of the American Christmas tradition, but bottom line: the concept of Santa Claus is based off of historical evidence of the kindness of a particular monk.
So will I feel like I am literally lying to my child by telling her a story of a man named St. Nick? No.
Age matters- Santa is what you make him to your children
I am going to tell my child, when she is old enough to understand, a story of a man named Santa who comes on Christmas Eve, plops down the chimney, has 8ish reindeer and a factory filled with elves that make toys. It’s a story. She will love the story just as she loves Curious George. As she grows, if she asks questions, I will tell her that Santa is a story we like to tell at Christmas time to remind us of the importance of giving.
If you promote the idea to your child that a man in a red suit is literally staring down on them day and night, monitoring their behavior and is an endless source of extravigant gifts, I am willing to bet that they will have a hard time coping when they discover Santa is not an actual person.
Santa is what you make of him. If you make him a fun, silly character you read stories and sing songs about during the holidays, I really can’t see the difference between him and any other character they experience on tv.
Make the holidays about what is important to your family. For me, I think the world is a hard enough place that if you can’t experience a little fantasy and fun during Christmas time as a child, when will you? Let them dream. Let them get excited and sing silly songs. When they mature, explain to them your beliefs and the deeper meaning of Christmas. It doesn’t have to be traumatic. It can simply be an act of maturity and understanding. I’ve said before, we will always promote our faith and a sense of humility and giving back in our household. As long as that is always at the center of our holiday celebrations, I am going to let my kids fall in love with everything about Christmas. You’re only a kid once.