Tuesday, December 6, 2011

To Santa or Not To Santa

That is the question.

Realistically, I know he is unavoidable. He's everywhere this time of year.

But what do we tell our kids about him?

David and I believe in Jesus. We believe that the Christmas season is a time to try and focus on the Miracle of His birth.


I also LOVE giving gifts. And (shhh... confession time here)... I kinda like receiving them too.

And I love so many other things about this time of year. The lights...the ornaments...the holiday music...the cheesy Christmas movies on ABC Family...the sugar cookies...the gingerbread lattes...the monogrammed stockings...and on and on...

So my question remains. What do we tell our kids about Santa Claus? How do we teach them the true meaning of Christmas and try and keep the focus on Him?

Dave and I go back and forth on this. While neither of us think the story of Santa Claus is particularly harmful, Dave has some reservations about misguiding the kids.

What do you all do? Even those of you out there who aren't Christians, how do you keep Christmas from becoming all about self indulgent materialism?

One idea I'm stealing from a student in my preschool teaching days is to make Jesus a birthday cake on Christmas Eve day. Love that idea. As Luke and Abbey get older I also want to encourage them to participate actively in their gifts for others, whether it be giving it a few days to think about what they want to get each person...something they would really like. Or spend some quality time and talent creating thoughtful gifts.

So this is where I want to hear from you all. It's late, and this post isn't nearly as eloquent as it was in my head when I was driving home from Playgroup this morning, but it's up nevertheless. (I did take the time to at least spell check it, I'm not a total savage) So tell me your thoughts. Friends, family, blog hoppers, lurkers...what say you?


JillAileenJones said...

To help keep down on the materialistic side of things- I have a friend (wish I had know this long ago) they do one big gift for all the kids that is from Santa-the rest are from them and that is 3 each. She says Jesus got three gold, frankincense, myrrh, and so they get three. I thought that was clever. Birthday cake a must. We let ours believe, like you said it is everywhere, but it is fun. We have always stressed the real meaning though-we read the Christmas story from the Bible and we do the church programs and we let them know that is the whole reason there is Christmas.
We also told them that years ago it all started with a man named St. Nick- who did good things at Christmas for others. There really was a St. Nick. Ours are starting to get to an age where they are staring not to believe, except our 3 yr old. It all works out and it has been fun.
Hope you have a blessed Christmas!

Lauren said...

I'm having the same thoughts. Santa wasn't a big deal in my house growing up. Christmas was (and is) about Jesus. So I don't want to make a big deal about Santa either. But I also don't want to rob my kids of the childish excitement and wonder that Santa can bring.

Obviously we're not doing anything about it this year. Noah's not old enough to remember by next Christmas, and has no friends that will tell him about Santa (lol). But I think in the future we will still make all the Christmas focus about Jesus, and Santa will just be mentioned occasionally, and Noah will get a present or two from him. So Noah will know that Christmas is celebrating Jesus' birth, but Santa just happens to bring him a present on Christmas Eve. Like Santa is an after thought.

Besides, I wan the credit for giving him good gifts:) lol

I'd rather skip over Santa entirely, but I don't want to be an ogre.

Stephanie said...

I have 3 kids age 9, 8, and 6. The way we handle it is just not telling the kids one way or the other whether santa is real. When they ask, we just tell the kids that santa (and the easter bunny) is just a fun thing to do-just a man in a costume. I emphasis Jesus' birthday by talking alot about it, asking the kids why we celebrate Christmas, and we also do the birthday cake for Jesus (complete with singing "happy birthday" and blowing out candles). It seemed to work for us.

Danielle Pittman Forester said...

My husband and I have four kids ages 6,8,9,10. We popped the Santa buble last year and decided that Santa was taking over a day that should be ablout Him.
We still enjoy the myth of Santa, the books and the movies. Our kids however know the difference and celebrate His birthday. We just became convicted of Santa in our house. I think that if you are having second thoughts then maybe you are doing the right thing for your household! Blessings sent to you...

Mrs. F said...

Hi There!

i'm new!

I don't have any children but I have thought a little bit about santa and whether or not to "lie" to my children.

I LOVE the comment above that said give three gifts just like Jesus! I see myself following the idea of ONE gift being from Santa, while the child is fully aware what the family members gave them. I also like the idea of getting handmade items not just prepackaged toys for every gift.

Stephanie said...

We don't do Santa. But we are not anti-Santa either. We talk about the fact that Santa is like Mickey Mouse. He is a lot of fun, but he is just pretend. They can go see Santa at the mall if they want (and so far every year they want to go) but they understand the gifts come from us. This year, though, we've also started talking about the fact that it isn't a good idea to tell everyone else that Santa isn't real. Last year it was brought to our attention that our kids were telling their friends he wasn't real, when the other kids believed he was. So - that's a whole new element, as your kids get older. =)

Christmas is very simple around here for very practical reasons - we have two kid birthdays within 10 days of Christmas. On Christmas morning they get a gift from Mom, a gift from Dad, and one from each other. And we do stockings. Some years we have given a big gift together (like a sand/water table when they were younger) but this year we aren't doing that, so it just kind of depends on the year. I think the Jesus birthday cake is a good idea. We have other cooking traditions on Christmas Eve, so maybe we'll just do it one day during the holiday break.

Over time we have developed some of our own traditions. At least once we go get hot chocolate and go to a few houses in the area with Griswald-style lights. We also like to go see the lights at our local zoo. We don't do Santa, but we definitely have a lot of fun with the holiday, and my kids don't seem to care about Santa.

Vanessa's Dad said...

The concept of Santa is not inherently bad. But how parents present and respond to the concept of Santa can be bad. So, I’m delighted that you are seeing the issue/asking the question. Here’s my response.

Don’t “push” Santa. It’s like salt in your diet. Don’t need to add any. It’s already there, plenty more than you need, in your daily diet.

Don’t tell the truth about Santa. It’s a sweet myth with giving, sharing Christian themes. Don’t stomp on those.

Never lie about Santa. Never. Dodge the question, as long and as often as seems appropriate (maybe forever). You do not need to answer every question asked of you. But, when you speak, only truth must pass your lips.

That’s the Big Evil about Santa… when parents pass Santa myth off as true, even lightly or with good intentions. Because it raises the issue, even in young minds, “If they lied about Santa, what else did they lie about?”

Ya’ll don’t always need to speak; but when you speak, ALWAYS speak the truth.


Laura said...

What did you and David decide???

It's a Crazy Life said...

I just happened by your blog today, and then I saw that you have b/g twins (as do I, but mine are OLD - 5! =O), so I kept on a reading and came to this post.

I didn't grow up believing in Santa at all. We still had Christmas, and it was my favorite holiday. Since having the kids, we toned it down more, though. We do a gift or two, and a tree, and a nativity scene. We've also tried to do nice things for others at Christmastime. The kids haven't caught on to Christmas being about gifts, though we think they will after this year - they just caught on about getting presents on their birthdays. =P We live in the boonies, so my kids kinda live under a rock, and really seem to have no clue about Santa or anything. Really. When my daughter was 3 1/2 or so, she asked my husband what a television was while at the eye doctors. =O Ha. Okay, that was off track. Ooops. Anyways, I've never understood the reason for Santa - as a child, it was always fun getting presents for my brother, sisters, and parents, and wondering what they got me. Christmas always seemed magical, even without having Santa thrown in the mix.