Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Dreaded Santa Question

We somehow managed to avoid discussing Santa until last Christmas.  Our kids had heard of him, and his name occasionally came up, but we didn't have to answer any difficult questions until last year.  So Jared and I had to decide how Santa would fit into the landscape of our Christmas.

Everyone is entitled to handle Santa (and other parenting issues, for that matter) however they feel is best.  I'm just sharing what we do.

My issues with telling my kids Santa is real:
  1. Santa steals the Christmas spotlight from the real reason for the season:  Jesus.
  2. We are lying to our kids.
  3. A fictional character gets all the credit for our carefully chosen and painfully paid for gifts.
My issues with telling my kids Santa is not real:
  1. They will most certainly spill the beans to other kids.
  2. They won't get to experience the full magic of Christmas.
I still remember how it felt to be a child who believed in Santa.  Even though I had real reservations, I still wanted my kids to experience that part of being a child.  I also remember my heartache when I found out the truth (especially since my entire family laughed at me for not already knowing the truth).  So, I want to be careful in how we handle that part.  But that's a problem for a different year.

I also just couldn't see how we could get around the fact that all other kids believe in Santa.  I didn't want to have the spoiler kid who tells all the other kids at school that there is no Santa.  I admit it:  I gave into peer pressure.  I felt that Santa needed to be part of our Christmas in order for us to participate in society.

Santa plays a very minor role in our Christmas.
We don't mind decorations with Santa on them.  We watch movies like "The Polar Express" and "The Santa Claus."  

But we spend most of our time discussing that Christmas is a celebration of when Jesus came to earth.  He came because God loved us so much that he came up with a plan to forgive us so we could be with him forever.  God's plan started long before that first Christmas, but the day Jesus was born was a long-anticipated fulfillment of hopes and longings that ultimately led to our free gift of salvation.  We teach our kids about Jesus.  We spend the Christmas season making and buying gifts for others and doing kind acts for other people. 

Santa's participation in our house:
  1. The kids leave cookies and an adorable hand-written note for Santa on Christmas Eve.
  2. Santa leaves one present for each child under the tree on Christmas morning.  Santa's gifts are wrapped in red and white striped paper, and the gifts from Mom and Dad are wrapped in a separate paper for each child (this year, I found Gingerbread Man paper for Griffin, Marvel superhero Christmas paper for Nolan, and Hello Kitty Christmas paper for Nora).  
I still wish that the Santa issue would disappear and Christmas would be about Jesus alone.  But this is how Jared and I have decided to handle it.  I think our kids understand the true meaning of Christmas, and they get to enjoy the imagination and magic of Santa. 

We don't bribe our kids to behave with threats that Santa is watching.  I want them to behave because I am watching.  We don't get their picture taken with Santa.  I think that's more due to the fact that I don't like crowds, and I'm pretty sure that at least two of my kids would just be scared of the creepy fake Santa.

My sister's kids are older than mine, and they have both unveiled the mystery of Santa.  They started with questions and doubts that were confirmed by my sister and her husband.  But they now enjoy being in the know and keeping the magic alive for the littler kids.  They are happy to keep the secret and love being on the "adult" team.  I hope to make a similarly smooth transition when my kids get older.  I think we can do it since Santa is already a minor character in our Christmas.

And just for the record, we have never promoted the Easter bunny to our kids (they don't really know of his/her existence), and no one has lost any teeth yet.  Although Nolan did have one tooth pulled, and the dentist went ahead and told him that the tooth fairy would put money under his pillow since he was so brave for the procedure.  So I guess we have to keep up that lie when the time comes.

How to handle the Santa issue is a question that each set of parents must carefully consider.  We approached this issue with prayer and tried to make the best decision for our kids.  Griffin still thinks that his Uncle Dave truly can take his thumb off (do you know that trick?), and I want to keep up some of those "magic" or "pretend" ideas.  They are growing up so quickly, and they'll have to face harsh realities soon enough.  For now, I want them to know Jesus and to enjoy the delights of childhood.


No comments:

Post a Comment