Not knowing what to do about Santa.

I had a conversation with my son yesterday.

Me – Son what do you want mom and dad to buy you for Christmas
Him – I want legos, playmobiles, and books
Me – Ok, sounds good
Him – Santa is good to us dad he brings us lots of stuff.

First I grew up in a home where Santa and Satan were used interchangeably. Second we drill into our boys Christmas is about giving and about Jesus’s birthday. Lastly this made my wife who is always listen give me those “I told you so eyes”

Then today I go to my google reader and find out my good buddy (we met once at Orange, so we are pretty much one step from our families going on vacation together) John is dealing with the same beast. He wrote a brilliant post about “Not knowing what to do about Santa” He give you 3 options: 1. Embrace Santa 2. Kill Santa 3. Combine Santa and Jesus

I would say we do all three but apparently with poor results. Basically we explain to our boys that St. Nick was a real person who was very giving and very generous, so much so that many people want to copy him and what he did so thats what all those Santa’s in the mall. Cheap copies of an irreplaceable original (I then tell him that it is our secret not to say anything at school because some kids still think Santa is real). I explain how we can learn from his life and live a generous life others want to copy. Judging from my conversation with my boy today, I must not be doing a great job explaining.

How do you handle the tricky topic of St. Nick?

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16 thoughts on “Not knowing what to do about Santa.

  1. Hi Sam,
    We taught our kids about the life of St. Nicholas and taught them how we can emulate his Christ-like behaviour and generosity.

    Santa does not come down our chimney on Christmas Eve. Instead, we give gifts in the spirit of generosity for what Christ gave us.

    I heard a broadcast of family life today yesterday that spoke about Santa being a replacement for Christ, what the world uses to build up excitement and hype over December 25th. I had never considered it from that perspective. And yes, our kids are sworn to secrecy though there’s secretly a part of me that wants them to tell the truth to their friends!

    I’ve also heard it said that if we tell our kids Jesus is real and tell our kids Santa is real and then tell them Santa is not real, that they will question if we lied to them about Jesus too?

  2. Santa is a fun game at our house. My kids all know it’s not real, but they are sworn to never stop the fun pretending.

    And then we do ADVENT and other Jesus-Centered Christmas activities to balance it all out.

  3. during my ordination, i was asked whether i would ever lie. that’s a trick question and really makes one think. the application was specific about this question of Santa.

    we also do tell our kids about Saint Nick and how many have created unreal fantasies about Him. Even though he knows the truth, he likes the fun “Santa” creates in festivities. it’s just like us still putting up Christmas trees or hanging candy canes upside down (they are supposed to look like a “J”, not a hook).

    with the united states getting more and more bend all upset about saying “merry christmas” as not being politically correct, I’ll embrace a little bit of Santa Claus as people are somewhat holding on to a Christian background.

  4. Hey bro…so funny! Good topic! REMEMBER when Dad would tell us that Santa stood for “SATAN’S CLAWS” HAHAHAHAHA!!! That makes Josh laugh EVERY time! REmemeber when i made it my personal passion to tell other children SANTA is NOT real?!? Out of control.

    i do not wish for Selah or Aidan to miss out on the person of St.Nicolas and i do not wish to lie to them either. i think i have found a good balance – i desire for them to understand who St. Nicolas was and who Santa is. i believe Santa can be a distraction from what Christmas is all about, Christ.

    So….i got this GREAT book from B&N about St.Nicolac. It tells his life and true stories about him with fantastic pictures. (Both Santa and St.Nicolas) Together we read the stories everyday and talk about how much he is like Jesus.

    THen on Dec 6th, St.Nicolac Day, last Sunday — we celebrated St. Nicolas Day together! We do many of the things from the book. Such as put our shoes outside the door and get them filled with fruit, nuts, and small toys — fill a stocking — visit him in the mall ect. We tell them that many people believe St.Nicolas is still alive, they call him Santa. Then we talk about how he is in heaven with Jesus and Grandpa Edroy. Selah understood, Aidan…not so much. Last, we explain how other children believe that he gives gifts, filles stockings, and more. We explain it is mommies and daddies who act like St.Nicolas to make Christmas EXTRA special for their kids!! So when other kids tell you about Santa, lets not spoil it for them or their mommies and daddies.

    After Dec 6th i put away anything that has to do with St.Nicolas, the book, toys, decorations. We then explain to our kiddos that yesterday was St.Nicolas Day and from now until Christmas we celebrating only JEsus’s Birthday because that is the true meaning of Christmas. When they bring up Santa, we kindly remind them that we already celebrated St.Nicolas Day and now our focus is on Jesus.

    For our kids, it has seems to work great! ANd i find i enjoy it just as much as they do without having to lie.

  5. Hey bro…so funny! Good topic! REMEMBER when Dad would tell us that Santa stood for “SATAN’S CLAWS” HAHAHAHAHA!!! That makes Josh laugh EVERY time! REmemeber when i made it my personal passion to tell other children SANTA is NOT real?!? Out of control.

    i do not wish for Selah or Aidan to miss out on the person of St.Nicolas and i do not wish to lie to them either. i think i have found a good balance – i desire for them to understand who St. Nicolas was and who Santa is. i believe Santa can be a distraction from what Christmas is all about, Christ.

    So….i got this GREAT book from B&N about St.Nicolac. It tells his life and true stories about him with fantastic pictures. (Both Santa and St.Nicolas) Together we read the stories everyday and talk about how much he is like Jesus.

    THen on Dec 6th, St.Nicolac Day, last Sunday — we celebrated St. Nicolas Day together! We do many of the things from the book. Such as put our shoes outside the door and get them filled with fruit, nuts, and small toys — fill a stocking — visit him in the mall ect. We tell them that many people believe St.Nicolas is still alive, they call him Santa. Then we talk about how he is in heaven with Jesus and Grandpa Edroy. Selah understood, Aidan…not so much. Last, we explain how other children believe that he gives gifts, filles stockings, and more. We explain it is mommies and daddies who act like St.Nicolas to make Christmas EXTRA special for their kids!! So when other kids tell you about Santa, lets not spoil it for them or their mommies and daddies.

    After Dec 6th i put away anything that has to do with St.Nicolas, the book, toys, decorations. We then explain to our kiddos that yesterday was St.Nicolas Day and from now until Christmas we celebrating only JEsus’s Birthday because that is the true meaning of Christmas. When they bring up Santa, we kindly remind them that we already celebrated St.Nicolas Day and now our focus is on Jesus.

    For our kids, it has seems to work great! ANd i find i enjoy it just as much as they do without having to lie.

  6. Sam,
    I say that we be truthful with our kids. Let’s be truthful about what Christmas is all about, truthful about who St. Nick was, truthful about the giant man in a red fluffy lounge suit. At the same time let’s teach our kids to be loving and sensitive to other children who believe that Santa is a real man who delivers them presents. Santa in our house is historical figure and a fun character. A man who exhibits the virtue of generosity that Jesus wants in all of our lives.

    Call me a Grinch, but I’m willing to wear that name proudly for the sake of my Jesus. It’s all about Him and I don’t think that anyone who can read John 1, Philippians 2:5-13, Hebrews 1:1-4, or Revelation 5 can be willing to give His glory to another! I know I won’t.

  7. Hey thanks for all your feedback. I want to be clear that my son knows there is no Santa and that Jesus is the reason for Christmas I guess I just didn’t want to do the simple Santa is evil approach because it is over simplistic IMHO. Just thought it was funny how kids perceive things.

  8. For us, Santa is a fun game. Our two oldest have figured out on their own the whole mythical-ness of Santa yet still have fun playing the game. Our third is simply captivated by the mystery and wonderfulness of Christmas. She knows that Jesus is the ultimate reason for Christmas yet she enjoys the stories of Santa. Our fourth is a two-year old could care less 🙂

    I look at it this way: It is a miracle that God came to earth as a child. With that comes a sense of mystery and belief and intrigue. There are also feelings of “good will to all” and giving and being generous… There are vestiges of truth that can be gleaned from the many Christmas stories out there. I find it more useful to help my children glean the truth. One good analogy I’ve heard recently is “take the watermelon approach: eat the fruit and spit out the seeds.” We need to help our children learn how to spit out seeds rather than pick the seeds out for them all the time. Otherwise, they will not know how and swallow the seeds along with the fruit.

  9. I’m sending this post to your dad. 🙂

    I almost blew it a few years ago. I was leading a small group of kids and I was telling them a funny story about disappointment. I was totally “winging” it because if I had taken any time to think about it, I would not have said what I said. I told them how when I was a kid I was riding the bus home from school right before Christmas break and how as I was getting off the bus, my bus driver told me that Santa wasn’t real. As soon as I said it and saw the faces of the kids… I realized what I had said. I continued with, “Can you believe someone would say something like that? That was so mean that someone would say something like that.”

    Yikes.

    But that was also just a few months after I fell of the stage and broke a 5th grader’s thumb. I was in a rut that year. 🙂

  10. Funny story… when my youngest brother was 5 he got a note home from the teacher asking mum and dad to "talk to him about his superior knowledge about Santa Clause", too cute!

    When we were kids our parents told us that Santa was a fun game that we play, it didn't take away from the excitement of it. Even though I didn't believe in Santa I remember times when presents and other traditions were a bigger deal to me then Jesus, not because my parents did a bad job, just because I'm human and hadn't chosen to make Jesus number one in my heart.

    One of the major challenges I see with encouraging kids to believe that Santa is real is that when thy find out he's not, what will they think when we tell them that God is real?

    • I agree Sarah. I try to focus on the generosity of St. Nick. I think parents like the whole Santa thing more than kids. Kids get what we focus on. Last week we did a happy birthday Jesus party in our kid's church and all the kids "got it". Santa is fun but Jesus is real.

  11. I am a children's pastor first, and magician second. I get the chance to travel a lot to perform magic, or "illusion". I can remember the day when so much of my show was spent on trying to make sure the kids understood that magic is not real. So much ministry time was was wasted with a long and theological explanation here. Yes, sensitivity was needed, but not a preoccupation with it. I found that the majority of the time the kids knew it, and were simply trying to "bust me" in the act. The kids really got it — the difference, when I spent more time concentrating on the interaction/ fun and the message conveyed through the medium of magic "illusion". "Kids will get it" as was said, when we focus on the real meaning of the season. I would like to give the kids a lot of credit here too when it comes to Santa. It's a little bit of letting them work out their faith with some Godly parameters in place! Good conversations guys!