Should Santa be cancelled? How can we navigate these quirks that Westernized civilization continually brings to the forefront of our minds, mostly from the content of our social media? I guess I feel the need to point out that out, considering some countries and cultures (including those within our westernized geography) worries are simply about whether or not they have food on the table that evening.
Take that as you may, I find that we often, as a culture, hyper-focus on matters that are seemingly insignificant. Yet here I am weighing in on the matter. Since I’m living in this culture and have a voice in the Christian parenting world, I thought some of you might consider my perspective. So here I am, writing an entire article about whether or not Santa should be canceled. Funny enough, I do believe there is an answer, and I do believe that it matters in the grand scheme of parenting. Do I believe he should be canceled? No. I believe in the freedom to do whatever you want within your family while still remaining obedient to God’s Word. So the question remains (for believers), is including Santa wrong?
To celebrate or not to celebrate Santa
Many of you eagerly prepare for the Christmas season with glee and delight, while others are avoiding it like the plague. The truth is that we all have our opinions, past experiences, convictions, and directives that all play a part as we celebrate or not celebrate Christmas. Today, I want to discuss for a second the ongoing discussion about Santa Claus and whether or not he should be canceled, included, or put in a different category altogether.
I’d love for you to please read this article with the understanding that this is solely my opinion based on my faith in Jesus and the Word of God. I do not judge either way, as I believe God is the final judge of all things; if you seek His guidance, He will convict you on the matter of how you should or should not include Santa at Christmas.
Should our upbringing determine whether or not we include Santa in Christmas?
Let’s start with the acknowledgment of our upbringing. If your parents included Santa Claus in your childhood, it’s likely you do the same or go the opposite direction. This is true of many things in parenting. We either consciously or subconsciously consider our feelings and experiences of our childhood and follow suit or go the opposite direction based on whether we deem it was a successful and cherished upbringing or a complete disaster. Hence, the parenting pendulum swing that sometimes happens every generation — we take what our parents did wrong and make adjustments, sometimes drastic.
Last generation’s Santa Claus, who brought us gifts we wanted and ate our delicious milk and cookies, is this generation’s creepy old man who breaks into our homes and wants our children to sit on his lap and be used as a tool for parents to manipulate their kids into good behavior.
So what should we be telling our children? The truth? The half-truth? Or something else?
Before I get to what I believe is a good solution, I first want to point out a few things.
- Santa Claus and the collective Hallmark Christmas have a history that I don’t care to unravel here, but I will say this. As a culture, we seem to naively take what is before us and run with it without looking into the actual history of why something is the way it is, what the spirit is behind it, and how it could possibly spiritually affect and put our families in spiritually compromising situations. There is a very real spirit of darkness that wants to distract us from celebrating the true life and meaning of “Christmas.” Now, I am aware that Jesus was not actually born on December 25th. To me, that is neither here nor there, as I celebrate Jesus’ birth and resurrection every day, but if I decide to focus on Jesus’ birth that time of year is between me and God. I have not been convicted otherwise and personally, I delight in making special memories with my children with gifts and traditions that include our Savior and the very real history of what He did for us. I am always asking God to show me what is true and will continue to listen to his voice as I walk this journey.
- Whether or not you include Santa in your Christmas celebration will not make or break Christmas. Believe me. I was not raised to believe in Santa, and I have not included Him in our celebration of Christmas with my children and it has not made Christmas any less special. I’ll to the why later, but just know that if you decide that Santa is not for your family, it’s not going to ruin Christmas. It might just do the opposite.
- If you are a believer, perhaps remain open to asking God what He would like you to decide. Who cares what my opinion is or what some lady you follow on Instagram? What does God have to say about it? Open your Bibles, research, and see what He is telling you. Be open to hearing from God on the matter.
My perspective and what I tell my kids
The problem with Santa
I personally don’t have an issue with “Santa Claus,” and I know he was a real historical person who did good things. I can see how his character makes the Christmas season something special, especially if you have some nostalgic feelings surrounding Santa. But what our culture has made him up to be is mythical and false in every way and the parental tendencies surrounding Santa have morphed into something unhealthy.
Should he be a part of Christmas? I don’t really place much weight into it other than recognizing he was another character of history that I can tell my kids about and move on, just as I would educate them about Pocahontas or Napoleon.
Who is Santa, Really?
“Saint Nicholas of Myra lived in the 4th century, born to Christian parents who left him an inheritance when they died, which he distributed to the poor. He became a priest at a young age and was well-known for his compassion and generosity. He had a reputation for giving gifts anonymously, and he would throw bags of money into people’s homes (and sometimes down their chimneys) under the cover of night to avoid being spotted.” From gotquestions.org.
He is NOT
- A receiver of our expensive gift lists
- Some magical dude who floats into houses through the fireplace
- Riding around on a sleigh pulled by reindeer
You get the picture.
The problem with telling your children that Santa is who he really is not
Simply put, it’s confusing. And once they find out he is not the mythical figure you’ve told them he is, they will be disappointed, their trust in you might be affected, and they will be confused about whether or not God is who you say He is. If you said that Santa was real, but he ended up not being real, who’s to say they won’t view your word about God as also deceiving?
These moments of trust are BIG in your child’s eyes. They need to know who they can depend on and trust. As parents, we have enough working against us in this culture to try and teach our children what is TRUE, this is perhaps another work of the enemy to discredit your loving direction and make you out to be untrustworthy.
What about imagination?
A child using their imagination is an important part of their development. Kids play and pretend. That’s a GOOD thing. Adults should do it more often as our brains cannot differentiate between whether something we are imagining is real or not and our bodies experience the benefits of thinking about positive things. We could visualize ourselves sitting on a beach in the sun while we are actually sitting inside in February, escaping the blizzard outside and our bodies will receive actual happy hormones. Imagination and pretending is good.
What I tell my kids
When my children were young, I would say that Santa Claus is an imaginary figure, aside from who Saint Nicholas actually was. If you want to pretend and use your imagination, then you can do that! But just know that it’s just pretend, like the tooth fairy or how you play with your toys. Both my children didn’t end up pretending in this way, but sometimes enjoy Christmas movies about Santa Claus and I’m okay with that.
I love that I get my kids gifts that they asked for, and they know it came from me. It’s an expression of love on my part, and they receive it. I don’t want an imaginary character taking credit for something I did for them. But again, that’s just me. I also love that our focus around Christmas is on what God did for us through Jesus. We share the Christmas story, celebrate the advent, and talk a lot about His blessings throughout the month. That’s the best gift we could ever receive so we focus on that.
If you decide to include Santa, try and avoid…
There are a few things to consider if you decide you want to bring up your kids believing in Santa which could potentially be harmful for your kids.
- Avoid the naughty or nice comments – this can be how parents or grandparents manipulate their child to “behave” by making the gifts they receive conditional to their behavior. This is not good parenting, especially if you abide by the Christian faith. The best example is Jesus dying on the cross for our salvation and giving us the gift of eternal life, not by anything we did or didn’t do, but simply because He loves us. This should be reflected in our parenting, and the naughty or nice gift-giving is counterproductive to exemplifying God’s love for us.
- If they ask you whether or not Santa is real, tell them the truth – If your child ever comes to you and asks you if Santa is real, then you should never lie to your children. Again, you can point them to using their imagination! Give them a good history lesson and let them use their imagination.
- Make sure the notion of Santa doesn’t overpower the real meaning of “Christmas.” Again, I’m aware that Jesus wasn’t born on this exact date, but it’s the date we’ve collectively settled on to celebrate the birth of our Savior. The same should be said of gifts, parties, traditions, Christmas trees, etc. If anything becomes more important than remembering the birth of our Savior, then you could perhaps reprioritize things. I definitely am guilty of this and need to be intentional about making Christmas more Christ-focused.
I would love to hear your thoughts and perspective on the matter! Again, this is just my perspective and I don’t judge whether or not you include Santa in your Christmas.