The conversations that come up around Christmas are always interesting to me. One that has recurred over and over the last few years revolves around the varying opinions of Christians about whether or not we should promote the idea of Santa Claus. I find this particular conversation interesting for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that this didn’t seem to be an issue for people just a couple of decades ago.
As the somewhat resident theologian in most of the groups we hang out with, I sometimes get inquiring looks or questions when this topic comes up. This may be because I rarely offer an opinion on the subject publicly, or maybe because people expect me to have some awesome Jesus-y reason that the Bible either supports or rejects the concept of Santa (hint: it doesn’t).
My personal belief is that Christian parents should thoughtfully consider how they want to raise their children, then act in accordance with their convictions. If you choose to include Santa in your Christmas traditions, just do so with temperance and try not to turn him into the Wal-Mart of the North Pole. If you choose not to include Santa, that’s great too, but please don’t force your opinions on every family you meet and don’t ruin it for their kids. Whatever you choose, I urge you to follow your convictions with a humble spirit.
In other words, don’t be a jerk.
This year, since I reflected on the issue a bit more than usual I thought I’d give a few reasons why Santa is welcome in our Christian home.
- We don’t just talk about Jesus at Christmas, so by the time it arrives we don’t have to scramble to explain its “true” meaning to our kids. I am not concerned that Santa will draw our focus away from Jesus, nor am I afraid that my kids, upon finding out that Santa isn’t what he is cracked up to be, will flee from the church, turn against Christ, and curse my name for feeding them a pack of lies.
- We often talk with our kids about how much fun it is to give gifts and how important it is to care for others who are in need. Santa is a distant second after everyone else. He is more the icing on the cake of giving.
- We don’t address presents from Santa (though we are fine with the grandparents doing so). Because we travel every Christmas, we fill the kids stockings on the way out the door, so that they know Santa visits our house too. But all of the presents under the tree are from family and friends.
- Our children are just that – children. They will lose their sense of wonder soon enough, so we want to let them keep it as long as they can. I have no problem with our children playing with imaginary friends, pretending to be super heroes, or using their imaginations for any of a hundred other activities. Why should it bother me that they imagine a jolly fat man flying around the world to deliver presents to children?
- It is decidedly unkind to spoil the surprise for other families, and children who are in-the-know are ridiculous little evangelists. Its fine if your family doesn’t want to talk about Santa. Its your choice how you want to raise your children. However, not everyone shares your convictions about this decidedly un-Biblical topic, so for the sake of others, at least tell your kids to keep their knowledge to themselves. We allow talk of Santa around our kids in part to preserve the peace and joy for other families.
- We don’t buy into Christmas commercialism (pun intended), so our kids don’t view Santa as a magic genie who grants all their wishes. There are many things they simply won’t get for Christmas, even if they ask. So including Santa in our traditions doesn’t carry the burden of breaking the bank so that the kids don’t think Santa doesn’t love them.
- If we didn’t let our kids believe in Santa, the Tooth Fairy would get pretty lonely around here. And boy does she visit often.
Whatever you decided this year and for your future, I hope you and your family had a very Merry Christmas!