Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Santa's in our Manger

When I was little my parent's had to leave the presents from Santa Claus out on our deck because I was terrified of a fat man in a red suit being in our house. And who's ever heard of reindeer who fly, anyway. So (spoiler warning), when I found out there was no Santa Claus I asked first, "Do I still get presents?", and second, "Then why did we do this?" If my parents had been giving me those presents all along, why would they put someone else's name on the "from" part of the tag?
And now I'm the parent. Bryton is one, still young enough that he'll have no recollection of this Christmas. I'm okay with that because we are now fighting the Santa battle. No, not where the presents should be left, but whether he should be included at all.
I should state before moving on that I don't dislike all things that are "Santa". I love the movie Elf, and The Grinch, I have a Santa statuey figurine thing that I really enjoy, I enjoy The Santa Clause, and even a few songs about Santa. I'm not saying that the story of Saint Nicholas isn't a story that should be mentioned to your children in lessons regarding the beauty of giving. I think that is important in a persons life. In fact, when we give gifts to our children and to each other at Christmastime, it would be a wise story to tell.
Here's my beef with Santa. And maybe it's not even with Santa, because if what I read about "Ole' St. Nick" is true, he was a Christian, and quite frankly, I think he would roll over in his grave if he knew that people were standing in lines at malls to spend lots of money they didn't have, standing in long lines to get pictures taken with him, and writing his name on the "from" part of the tag when Christmas is really about Jesus.
ANYHOW, Aaron and I are in this awkward time of our lives trying to figure out if Santa Claus is really the way to go. Honestly, the ONLY reason I would 'do' Santa Claus in our house is because it is the social norm (bad reason number 1), and so that my kid doesn't ruin it for all of the other kids (not a horrible bad reason but still not good). So, the question is, "Is it worth it to make Jesus share His season with Santa Claus for the sake of all of the other kids." I'm not sure.
But this is what I am sure of:
Today I subbed in a music class at the elementary school. Kindergarten - 4th grade. For the sake of this particular post we are going to concentrate mostly on K, 1st, and 3rd grades. Here is why:
The 3rd graders (mostly not Santa Claus followers anymore), were required to listen to very poor versions of old Christmas songs we'd all sing in church. You know, Away in a Manger, O Holy Night, Go Tell it On the Mountain, etc. They knew very few of the words. The language was difficult for them. They had no idea what the songs were saying, and to be honest, very few of these kids knew them. I had looked so forward to this part of my day, but it quickly became the part of the day that fell apart the quickest.
The kindergarten and 1st graders, well, they watched a Christmas Sing Along. Not a gospel story in site. Everything Santa and Reindeers you could possibly want. They not only knew the words but were elated at the sight of Santa. In fact, I stopped showing one part of the movie for fear they'd never let me sub again because of the volume level they were reaching when Santa came on the screen. It was sheer... joy. Over Santa. At Christmas. And my heart fell to pieces on the floor.
Supposedly a great deal of what we are going to 'know' in life comes before the age of 6. Everything else after that builds on the important things learned at 6. Ironically, 2nd and 3rd grades... say 7 -9 years old... are about the times most kids stop believing in Santa. What sticks with them after that about Christmas? Gifts. It's just like my question when I found out, "Well, am I still getting presents?" Yep, because that's what it was about to me at that point. That is what I knew about Christmas.
I want my son to know Christ about Christmas. I mean, what is Christmas without Christ? What would have been the reason for 'Ole St. Nick' to begin with? There would be none.
Have we completely ruled out doing 'Santa' in our house... not completely, we are still in the talking stages. Are we judging anyone who does it? Nope, you have to make that call for your family. But I can say this for ours, whether we 'do' Santa or not, He will not be residing in the manger.


  1. when i was two i asked my dad if santa was real, and he told me the truth, and i've been thankful for that ever since. we have decided not to do the whole believing in santa thing with our kids. i found this video interview on abraham piper's blog, and you might like the way he and his son "analyze" santa:

  2. It's so interesting for you to talk about this right now because we have chosen not to do Santa in our house and my goodness, you'd think we were beating our kids the way people look at us. I don't like the thought of teaching our kids about Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Jesus and then one day saying oh by the way Jesus is the only real one of the bunch. I would hate to think that my kids would ruin the "magic" for others and I will try to teach them not to, but when it comes down to it it's not my "lie" to worry about.