Sunday, December 13, 2009

Is Santa Coming to Your Town?

We had our first Christmas small group tonight. We had supper together, held the baby, prayed another baby would be delivered soon and watched The Purpose of Christmas by Rick Warren. If you live by me, you can join us next Sunday if you want. Free food! As we were discussing our Christmas celebrations we started talking about Santa.

How do you celebrate Christmas and focus on Jesus' birth when Santa Clause is comin' to town?

I never believed in Santa as a child. We had fun with Santa gag gifts and usually Santa visited our gathering but it was all silly and I never actually thought Santa brought us presents.

Our kids have never believed in him either. Our kids were the ones telling all the other kids in Kindergarten that Santa is not real, resulting in mass hysteria. Sorry about that. But our stockings get filled, we go see Santa at Bentleyville and watch all the classic and not-so-classic Christmas specials. Santa is certainly not taboo in our house.

Let me just say that it's hard to believe in Santa when he shows up dressed like this.

One of the couples in the group was sharing about their transition with Santa. They've always had Santa as a big part of their Christmas. They are starting to rethink telling their kids that Santa, the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny are real because they are abstract and not tangible. They cannot be seen or felt. Sort of like Jesus. She wonders if in the future as the kids inevitably learn that Santa and friends aren't real, they will begin to think that Jesus is not real either. The stories we tell our kids about Jesus and Santa may all seem like fairy tales.

They also noticed how as their kids get older they have to keep perpetuating the lie. They ask questions like How does Santa know where everyone lives? Why does Santa bring Jimmy a Wii and he only brought me some play dough? How does Santa fit down our chimney?

I've never thought of it that way. It's a horrifying thought to me that my kids might look back at us and feel like we aren't trustworthy or we lied to them. Or worse, that they would wonder if Jesus was just some made up character like the big fat guy in the red suit.

It's making me rethink how I handle the character thing. I think it's fun to play around with it. And I don't think it's wrong. In fact, the tooth fairy is due to make an appearance at our house this evening. If she remembers, she can be pretty unreliable.

I guess I need to prayerfully consider how we are going to handle this in a way that honors Christ. Because He's what Christmas is all about.

Isaiah 9:6
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.


T-Bear said...

As a child who did have that EXACT crisis of faith when I found out that Santa, the tooth fairy, etc. weren't real I can tell you how we have handled it. The very first time our child asked us if Santa was real, we told her no. She was 3. We told her about the real Saint Nicholas and how the Santa myth came about and that it was a game we play as a family to help us remember the spirit of giving at Christmas. We have had no regrets about handling it this way. There was no trauma or drama about the big revelation and no confusion about what really IS real, Jesus.

Mommy Missionary said...

That's a great perspective!

captureyourlegacy said...

Michelle - You have brought up such a great dilemmna. I was told really young by a classmate in preschool about Santa and since all the tags that said from Santa had my mother's handwriting - I realized it was just for fun. When we were first married I heard a pastor share about how he told his kids the truth so that they wouldn't think, "Well, you lied about Santa... what else have you lied about... Jesus?" Joel and I took that to heart and have always told our kids the truth about Santa. However, we always add, Santa (St. Nick) believed in Jesus too and was giving gifts as a way to honor Christ and show His love to others. We tell our kids that Santa is a fun thing to pretend and if they want to set out cookies or pretend that Santa is coming they can. At our house Santa usually just leaves them a note because the one year Santa signed his name it was my handwriting and they didn't like it! :) We watch the classic movies - my kids know Rudolph and all those songs too, but they also know it's for fun and just a way to remind us to be generous. Today I did a quick search and found this website that give the history of St. Nick and Santa.
Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Santa Grandpa is going to love this picture~!!!