Mom 2 Mom: Tell Son Truth About Santa?
Sue writes: It is almost Christmas and I have a question about how to handle the subject of Santa. I am a Christian mom and I don’t know how to answer my kids when they ask if Santa is real. I want them to experience the almost magical feel of Christmas, but I don’t want to lie to them. What do I do?
I, too, struggled with this very same problem. I just did not know how to explain Santa. My concerns weren’t so much about “lying” to my son about Santa; they were more about centering Christmas on Santa and presents instead of Jesus. I also came to the realization that it takes faith to believe in God, and it also takes faith to believe in Santa. I did not want my son to put faith in something that did not exist. I also thought about how believing in Santa may, at some point, be detrimental to my son’s faith in God. I will give you an example from my own life: As I got older, I realized it was silly to believe in Santa, but that same mentality also made me question if it was silly to believe people lived for hundreds of years, Jonah survived in the belly of a whale, and many other stories in The Bible, and for a long time, I struggled with that. Was that struggle a direct result of my belief in Santa? I have no idea, but I do think it is possible. So, I, personally, chose not to do the whole Santa thing with my son. I do, at times, feel guilty of robbing my son of that almost “magical” feeling you described, but I think by teaching my son the true meaning of Christmas, he will experience and even greater supernatural feeling Christmas morning.
This does not mean that I boycott Santa. I still read him Santa stories and decorate things with Santa, but we don’t leave out cookies and milk, he does not ask Santa for Christmas presents, and I don’t pretend Santa will come down the chimney on Christmas Eve. Instead, we treat Santa like any other cartoon character. If he asks me (which he hasn’t), I will always tell him the truth, but until then, I am just leave things up to his imagination.
So how do we explain all the presents under the tree? Well, I tell him that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday, but because Jesus loves us so much, and because Jesus is so kind and selfless, He wants us to have all His presents. I tell him that Jesus helps Mommy and Daddy find the perfect toys to bring a big smile on his face come Christmas morning.
Along with this tradition, we also give Jesus a birthday party every year and make Him a birthday cake. My son draws pictures for Jesus, and we learn about Jesus’ birth and life. As a family, we also decide on a gift that we will all give Jesus that year for His birthday. For example, last year, we donated money to parents who recently lost everything in a fire so that they could buy their children Christmas presents. We think our traditions are fun, and most importantly, we feel that they keep Jesus the center of Christmas.
But, what you decided to do is totally up to you. I did not feel betrayed when I found out Santa wasn’t real, and I do not think you will scar your child if you let him believe in Santa. If you do decide to do the Santa thing, keep in mind that you can put your own spin on it. Before we settled on our current tradition, I thought about telling my son the this:
“Jesus is so selfless, and he loves everyone so much that He wants other people to have presents on His birthday. So, he chose Santa to help him out. Santa has a naughty and nice list, but little boys and girls who love Jesus are always on the nice list! You should be thankful for God’s love and all His blessings!”
You may have better ideas of your own. I think the best thing you can do is to come up with your own special traditional. If you are still concerned, pray about it. If I have learned one thing as a parent, it is that God will lead you on how He wants you to raise His child. We just have to ask, and we just have to listen. He is the ultimate parenting expert, after all!