One Christmas season long ago, a four year old little boy with curly blond hair and big brown eyes stood gazing at all his Christmas presents from “Santa Claus.”
Yes, this is a picture of the little boy riding with his younger sister in his brand new Coupe car he got for Christmas.
The cute little boy had been taught the Bible and about how God loved him and he deeply desired to love God better than Santa Claus. On that Christmas morning, the boy’s parents did not understand their child’s concerns. The tired parents were thrilled they had done such a good job of playing “Santa Claus” and “Santa’s elves” by putting toys together for their children until the wee hours of Christmas morning.
The little blond curly headed boy with quizzical brown eyes asked his parents the question that concerned him, “Does Santa fly through the sky in a sleigh?” “Yes,” lied the parents who were trying to make Christmas a fun time for their little boy.
The next question of concern was, “Did Santa bring me all these gifts?” “Yes,” lied the parents again trying to add excitement to Christmas for their child. With a sad and downcast look, the little boy added, “I think I like Santa better than God, because Santa flies to my house to bring me all these gifts.”
This was a true story that happened one Christmas long ago in our home. After our son said this unbelievable statement, Barry and I looked at each other stunned. We then had a quick discussion about what to do. The decision was an obvious one. What would you do if your child said he thought he liked Santa better than God?
We decided to tell our children the whole truth and nothing but the truth about Santa Claus. Brandon, our deep thinking little boy sighed relief when he was told the truth. He was actually glad Santa Claus was make-believe and that his four year old mind did not have to choose between liking God best or Santa best. Knowing the truth that Santa was make-believe was freeing to our little boy.
Knowing our children knew the truth about Santa Claus was actually freeing to Barry and me too. Why?
- We did not have to lie anymore!
- We did not have huge expectations to live up to anymore trying to be the limitless gift giving Santa Claus.
- Our children gave us the credit instead of Santa for all the hard work we went through and the money we spent in trying to make Christmas nice for them.
- Our children were much more grateful for their gifts and thankful to their parents and to God, our Provider. In order to make Christmas lists, kids who believe in Santa pay close attention to what advertisers tell them they should want, which in turn encourages unbridled greed and consumerism. The retail stores love for all our children to believe in Santa. Why? Ch ching.
- The focus on Christmas was now where it should be: Jesus! “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
Some parents, who found out our kids no longer believed in Santa didn’t want our kids around their kids because of fear. Fear of what? Our children telling their children about Santa being make-believe. We had to assure these parents our children would not “tell.” Our children did not “tell” out of obedience to us after we explained how parents get offended.
But, our children observed something sad about some of the children who believed Santa was real. These were the same children whose parents were afraid of our children telling their children the truth about Santa.
That Christmas, our children were shocked at one little girl saying, “Santa did not bring me the Barbie Doll house I wanted,” as she stamped her foot while looking disgruntled at an almost life size Barbie Doll house. Another little girl cried, because she did not get exactly what she wanted from Santa. Our children felt sorry for these children’s parents because their parents had done so much for them, and their children did not realize the truth. Our children observed that the belief in Santa spoils some kids. These kids were not having the “fun” their parents thought they were having with the belief in Santa after-all.
Fast forward to today. I asked all my grown married children if they were going to play Santa with their children.
Melinda, now 26 years old and married, was the youngest and never had a chance to believe in Santa Claus. Melinda did not think she missed out as a child. As for the future, she said she would be truthful and she liked the idea of having fun with a make-believe Santa. She thinks that makes it still fun, yet you don’t have to miss out on your kids being grateful to you and God for providing the gifts.
Our eldest daughter, Kristen believed in Santa for six years. She is now a Pastor’s wife and mother of four children. “The most convincing argument for me, about not teaching little ones to believe in Santa Claus is our real life experience of Brandon as a little child, saying he thought he liked Santa Claus more than God, because Santa Claus gave presents. Also, I remember, that same Christmas, ( I think I was around 6 yrs old ) coming out of our rooms to see a living room full of amazing toys. On the inside I was really excited. Because I thought Santa brought the toys and at that moment he couldn’t see me anyway, I didn’t express much outward excitement over all the neat toys. I remember thinking, ‘It is so easy for Santa to bring anything for kids and any amount of toys he wants to bring.’ I know I just didn’t feel the same excitement, gratefulness and thankfulness I did in later Christmases, knowing that Mom and Dad picked out each toy and paid for each toy for each of us three children.”
Kristen continued, “In later years, every time I would see that home video of my lack of outward expression of excitement over all the toys, I would feel so bad for poor mom and dad who worked hard most of the night to get everything ready for us. I know many parents have fun with their kids believing in Santa Claus. For me, as a child, I actually had more fun knowing that two people who loved me and knew everything about me, took the time to choose special gifts to give me on Christmas day, as opposed to a magic guy in a red suit who I didn’t even know.
As I reread what Kristen said, something really stood out to me in Kristen’s words: “I know many parents have fun with their kids believing in Santa Claus.” She didn’t say the kids have fun, but the parents have fun. Hmm.
And what about the curly headed little boy who was concerned because he might like Santa better than God? Brandon, our son is 28 years old, married, and has a four year old son and twin two year old sons. Brandon said, “I don’t want Santa getting the credit. We will tell our children the truth.”
This true story is about the year our little boy gave us a wake up call on how much he trusted his parents words as truth; a wake up call about why this “harmless little lie” about Santa was not so harmless.
Barry and I both grew up believing Santa was real. We both thought it did not affect us, so we carried on the tradition. I can remember the effect on others when I was younger who were acting like spoiled brats because “Santa” did not bring them exactly what they ordered from the Sears Catalog. I do remember when I think way back as a young child how I lusted over the toys in the Sears catalog making my very long list. Maybe belief in Santa affected me more than I realized. A child’s character is being formed in the child’s early years. “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.” (Proverbs 20:11)
Every Christian parent makes a decision at Christmas:
- Some parents don’t have one thing to do with Santa at Christmas~”none of Santa.”
- Some parents lie as we did about Santa to their children hoping to make it fun for their children. They do not realize the lie may be harmful to some of their children. Some of these parents, use the “lie” to try to get their children to be good.~”all of Santa.”
- Some parents tell their children from the beginning that Santa is make-believe. They still have some Santa fun with their children at Christmas keeping Santa in the background.~”some of Santa.”
What will you do with Santa this Christmas?
Our decision: We decided the “lie” about Santa was the problem. The lie makes Santa have Godlike characteristics; he sees all, he knows all, he can be everywhere in one night, and he gives gifts to all.
After we taught our children the truth that Santa was not real, we still had fun with make-believe Santa. We watched Rudolph the red nose reindeer cartoon and other Santa shows, we made a night of seeing Christmas lights around town that included Santa decorations, a friend dressed up like Santa and our children sat on Santa’s lap if they wanted to~most the time, they did not….
Our children enjoyed our decision of having fun with a make-believe Santa so much better than believing in a lie. Make believe Santa was in the background while the Lord Jesus Christ was way in the forefront of Christmas. After all, Jesus is the reason for the season.
What about Christmas gifts? Do our children know that the best Christmas Gift was the ONE God sent them in Bethlehem? What will you do with Jesus this Christmas? Let us make Him room!
Do you have any Christmas experiences or thoughts that you would like to share?