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Just so you know that I’m not anti-Santa…..

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Okay, now that we’ve got that cleared up…

I’ve been reading a lot online lately about Santa and whether or not Christians should “do” Santa. I thought, hey, for what it’s worth, here’s my two cents on the subject and what we do as a family:

As you can see, I’m not opposed to Santa. Saint Nicholas was a real man who did really great things.  The story is fun for little ones to imagine and it certainly isn’t evil or wrong. Where I think people stray is when Santa is used as a bribe to keep children obedient over the holidays and when Santa and all that surrounds him replaces the true story of Christmas and becomes bigger than Baby Jesus.

Let’s be real for a second here. I know people who seriously say, “You need to behave or I’ll tell Santa and you won’t get presents this year!” Really? You really won’t give your children presents because they were naughty in December? I know of no one who will follow through with that ominous threat.

Another thought: since when is Christmas all about receiving gifts anyway? Most of us are trying to teach our children that Christmas is about giving to others… and yet we’re telling children that if they’re bad, they get nothing? Doesn’t that go against everything else we’re trying to teach?

Back in Bible School, I remember one Christmas devotional where the speaker said, “The world has to keep adding to Christmas to make it even better. But, the real Christmas story has stayed the same for thousands of years. We don’t need to add anything to it.” He’s so right. Santa has grown into this fat guy who lives in the North Pole with elves and drives a flying sleigh with flying reindeer. Then there’s all the extraneous stories – like Rudolph and Frosty (I still don’t understand how Frosty fits into it all) and Buddy the Elf. Now, there’s Elf on the Shelf in the mix. The world has to add to it in order to keep making it bigger and better.

But, the true story – the real reason Christmas exists at all – is actually a simple story. A quiet story that took place in the middle of the night. The telling of this simple story barely fills three chapters in the entire Bible. Simple. Humble. Quiet. Beautiful. That’s it. No flying reindeer or singing elves. No jolly man in a red suit who eats your cookies and climbs down your chimney. A barn. Some animals. A young mom, a new dad, and a tiny baby. The end.

So, where does Santa fit in this? Well, to be honest, he probably doesn’t. Saint Nick is a fun story, told the world over, that encourages a child’s imagination and makes Christmas “magical.” Necessary? Absolutely not. Fun? Yeah, I guess.

What we do at the moment is keep Santa out of the house as far as decor goes. No Santa on the roof, on the tree, or even as a candle. No Santa-shaped sugar cookies and no Santa hats. What E. learns about Santa she’s learning from cartoons and a couple random books we were given. We are not encouraging it, but neither are we denying it. She has a huge imagination, but is generally smart enough to know the difference between real and make-believe. If she goes through a stage where she believes Santa is real, so be it. Brian always gives a “Santa Gift” – one gift from Brian that’s for the entire family that I know nothing about. He labels it “From Santa”, but that is the only present “from Santa.” We will not be putting out cookies and milk, and when she asks, we tell her he’s a nice story.

We will tell her who Saint Nick really was and why he’s so celebrated today. We will let her believe, but we won’t use the myth as a bribe for her to be good nor will we threaten her with it when she’s bad.

Christ will always be central. Advent is done daily. We talk every single day about Jesus in a manger. We color nativity pictures and read different children’s versions of the Christmas story. Christmas Eve will be spent in church at the Christmas Eve service and the Christmas story will be read Christmas morning before presents are opened. We will sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus and we will give gifts to others.

Santa certainly won’t hurt her imagination and he isn’t a bad thing to have around. But, all that glitz, glam, and magic have absolutely nothing to do with the true story – and they never will… because it’s not about you and me. It’s about the fact that God became a baby because He loves you and I so very much.

E. summed it up the other day in the car: “But Mommy, if Jesus is God, why was He a baby?” Oh, sweetpea, because He loves YOU. That is what Christmas has always been and always will be about.

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