It happened again yesterday. A perfect stranger saw my daughter with me and asked, “Have you been a good girl this year?”
She was very confused, but after looking at me a second, looked at the stranger and said, “I think so.”
He smiled and said, “Well then, I’m sure Santa will be coming to your house this year.”
She looked very confused and concerned. “Mommy,” my little girl started, “Is Santa a girl?”
I smiled and tried to reassure the stranger that “Santa doesn’t come to our house. We’ve never met him” as kindly as I could.
I then tried walking away with her and informed her that the Santa that man was referring to probably wasn’t a girl. No, we don’t know him. And hey–Let’s go look for Daddy.
That’s when it started. He followed us. “You don’t know who Santa is?” I’m sure he was trying to be friendly, but really it was just getting creepy. He continued to follow us telling my daughter who “Santa” is.
And I think it scared my daughter a bit. I kept smiling at this man, and finally said, “I appreciate your kind words, but that’s not a game that we play at our house. We really must go now.”
It was as if I’d just took away his birthday. If you’re this guy–please stop–you creep out our children.
When people find out we don’t do Santa at our house, they usually assume that it’s because we are really Christian. But that’s only part of it…
Reason #1: I refuse to lie to my children–no matter how hard that is.
Yes I know my opinion is not popular. I totally get that it’s not the “fun” answer. I’ve even been told that it’s “not fair” to my children.
But…that’s the truth. Santa is not real. Acting like he is and encouraging my child to get excited about him is not only lying, but leading my child farther from the truth. And telling my child “if they are good” they will get presents, but “if they are bad” they will get a stocking of coal is bribing and threatening.
There, I said the ugly. Now before you throw darts at me, let me tell you a story:
My parents did the Santa thing with us. I was the 5th child. My older siblings knew they would continue to receive extra gifts from Santa every year if all the little kids still believed in Santa. So they all did their best to persuade us that he did indeed exist.
I had heard rumors at school, so I asked my mother year after year–I figured she would always tell me the truth no matter what. She always said yes, he was real. I believed in Santa until I was 10 years old–much longer than any of the other kids.
Did other kids think I was gullible? stupid? easily persuaded? I have no idea. Because I was so busy judging them. I really thought they were all idiots and stupid–because my mother told me the truth. I couldn’t understand how they were all so…well…dumb.
When one of my older sisters started to get teased because of me, she told me there was no Santa. I went to my mother…again… This time I told my mother it was my sister who told me. And two days before Christmas, my mother shot my sister a dirty look and then told me with a gentle voice, “I’m sorry honey. He’s not real.”
I cannot tell you how crushed I was. By 10 years old I had already learned not to trust anyone except my parents. I knew that at some point, given the right opportunity everyone would betray you or lie to you–except my parents. And now that was gone.
That distrust left a hole in my heart. I’m not sure I ever trusted anyone again until I was in college, when I started to trust my mother again.
And–I hated myself because I was so judgmental toward all the other kids. All of them. I had judged them unfairly in believing that they were all stupid. And I was ashamed of myself. And I hate to admit it…but I disliked my mother for encouraging me to be judgmental.
I have heard other stories from other peers about their negative experiences in finding out their parents lied to them. I am not alone. Many children have had holes created. Why? Was it all in the name of “fairness”? “fun”?
Reason #2: It’s not about Santa. Or you. Or me. Or even “the children” really. It’s about Jesus.
When I found out Santa wasn’t real, Christmas changed for me. It lost it’s magic. But I soon realized that Christmas was still about the lights, the food, and the presents.
I don’t want this season to change for my children. I don’t want the celebration my children have in their hearts about the birth of their Savior to “loose it’s magic” ever. And I don’t want to entertain the thought that they’ll get over it by promising that there are “still lights, food, and presents.”
When we celebrate the birth of our Savior, it isn’t about any of us. It’s not about me. It’s not about the needy. It’s not about family. It’s not about the children. It’s about Jesus. It’s His birthday.
How would He feel about His birthday being turned into a celebration where a made up person brings stuff to children once a year to make them happy? How would He feel if we used a made up man to encourage our children to “be good”?
My children know that all good things come from God. He is the source of our happiness everyday. He is why we choose obedience out of love and not rewards.
Do I think all Christians should stop the Santa charade?
I think we shouldn’t lie to our children–ever. And I think we shouldn’t use anything other than God’s Word to encourage our childrens’ behaviors.
And I think if you choose to celebrate the birth of your Savior, it should be about just that.
I have a friend who chooses to celebrate Christs’ birth during the “Holiday season.” And then her family has “Christmas in July” with all 200+ members of her family. And yes, they do the Santa thing–only everyone knows it’s just a game. It’s a fun family event for them. But they all are very aware that Santa and Jesus have nothing to do with each other.
My prayer for you would be that you give thanks to your Savior this season (and every season). I pray that you do celebrate the birth of your King–weather it’s in December or not. And I pray that whenever you do celebrate and worship, that it be all about Him and nothing else.