What to do about Santa Claus??

Back when I was growing up in the 1960s, Santa Claus was a fact of life. Nearly everyone who was civilized made Santa a part of their Christmas. Of course there were some we knew about, mostly Jehovah’s Witnesses who didn’t celebrate or acknowledge Christmas but everyone knew they were going to hell anyway.

As time passed many in the evangelical community took a hard look at the tradition of Santa Claus and concluded that including a mythological being (based on a historical figure) with immense magic like power robbed God of the glory that was His in the sending of His Son. I myself said on many occasions that how can we tell our children that Jesus is real and Santa is real too, but then admit to them as they grow up that Santa is about as real as professional wrestling. Doing that we have in essence practiced deception.

A few years ago I definitely took the hard-line approach against the inclusion of Santa. I took it in my own mind but acquiesced due to a long-standing tradition in my wife’s family. When my own children asked if Santa was real we told them the truth. No he is not real. All those presents are from us. Rather than being disappointed, my children both smiled and said thank you for all the presents. I don’t believe their enjoyment of Christmas has in any way been diminished by their knowing the truth.

When word spread that my children no longer believed in Santa Claus, it was met by a measured amount of hostility from some of our family (not all I wish to be careful to point out.) We were told that if our kids spilled the beans to their kids, it would be on. We were astounded.

I think that in some cases the Santa Claus tradition is more important to the parents than to the children. Like I said, my own children were not disappointed at all. You can go to the mall and see tons of families with children so young that they don’t have a clue what’s going on, waiting in line to see Santa.  Most of time it ends with a crying child. Let’s face it, while Santa might look warm, friendly, and inviting to an adult, he might look pretty scary to a small child that isn’t used to the image of Santa and what he represents.

I have to admit, my thinking has mellowed somewhat. I don’t think celebrating Christmas with the inclusion of Santa Claus necessarily causes permanent and lasting harm to a child. Nor do I think it is necessarily wrong in all cases. Like I said, when I was growing up Santa was just about universally a part of everyone’s Christmas. Looking forward I know many Christians who are deeply committed to serve the cause of Christ who came from that same tradition.

So my opposition to Santa is essentially this: I prefer to keep Christ the central (and only) focus of the day we have set aside to celebrate as His birthday. I would have no problem with having a separate day to deal with the things of Santa Claus. Ironically, many of the traditions we celebrate as Christmas had their roots in pagan solstice holidays. Santa Claus in many ways has a more Christian pedigree than Christmas itself.

Do I condemn families who cling tenaciously to the tradition of Santa Claus? Absolutely not!! I even have a cousin who is a real bearded Santa that I am very proud of. I simply believe that for our family, it is better not to include Santa. Other families should examine their conscious and determine if they feel free in their Christian liberty to include Santa or not include him.

And finally, we have instructed our children not to say anything to any other children. We have instructed them emphatically and often. We truly do not desire to spoil it for anyone who is a Santa Claus tradition practitioner.

Merry Christmas and War Eagle!!!



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