In response (Santa vs. Jesus)

This post is in response to Kendra’s post about Santa vs. Jesus round 1.  I started to respond on her blog, but it got a little lengthy, so I thought I would do so here.  You can click Kendra’s blog to read hers and then come back here 🙂 

 It’s amazing how similar our experience has been in deciding whether to do Santa – although I don’t think we really wrestled with it as much when we just had Katelyn.  I think we were kind of excited to play ‘Santa’  like our parents had for us.  It didn’t help that Bill worked for Service Merchandise when she was little and was able to get lots of toys – more than she needed for sure!  I look at pictures and videos and am amazed at the amount of stuff she got. 

 As the years have gone by and we’ve added more children to Santa’s list, it has gotten harder to continue in that manner. Not just financially, but we’ve seen how the excess detracts from the true reason we celebrate Christmas.  We’ve always incorporated the Christmas story with traditions such as reading Luke 2 by candlelight on Christmas Eve,  etc.  But that’s just it – we incorporated those things into the more commercial activities we did.  That has flip-flopped, especially over the last few years.  Do we still do some of the more commercial things – like go see Santa?  Sure.  In fact, the kids just had their picture taken with Santa yesterday.  The difference is that Santa is downplayed a great deal and we focus on and talk about the wonder of what it was like when Jesus came to Earth as a baby and what that means for us today.    

As far as what they get from Santa – they get three things – symbolizing the three gifts given by the Wise Men.  They only get to choose one of those and yes, we’ve had similar experiences in tracking certain items down, especially since the advent of ebay.  The other two are smaller items we choose that we think will encourage a talent or special interest.  From ‘us’, they get clothes or shoes they need and something that encourages their spiritual growth – for instance, this year they are getting new devotionals.  I’ll admit that sometimes it is hard for Santa to get the credit for the ‘fun stuff’ because I love to put a lot of thought into what they get.  Then I think of how I am not the one who should be worried about ‘getting credit’  when God has put more thought into His Gift for us than anyone ever has. 

We have wrestled with the decision to tell the kids – we talked a great deal about it this year.  We decided not to this Christmas, because it was already close and with the baby coming, we didn’t want too much upheaval at once.  Katelyn, of course already knows, but the other four don’t. 

Emily is nine and usually kids know by then, but she has a wonderfully trusting nature and has not questioned it much. 

 Maddie is seven and she is the skeptic.  She wants so much to believe, but she’s sharp and notices things.  A month or two ago, she came up to me with an animal that she had gotten from Santa.  She asked me why it said made in China on the tag when the elves were supposed to have made it.  It totally took me off guard, and not wanting to lie, I turned the question to her and asked her what she thought.  She was cautious in her reply.  I think she thinks that if she shows disbelief, Santa might not come.

Peyton is five and is all about the toys.  He is not interested in dismantling the Santa story.  Like Kendra’s son, he loves the sale ads and commercials.  I think I am going to ban them from the house next year. 

Dayleigh is blessedly ignorant on the subject.  This will probably be the last year that she is.  That is why we are at a crucial juncture.  I think we are leaning towards telling them in a few months, but I would love input from anyone who has been  down this road, either as a child or a parent.  Once we do it, we can’t go back.  Like Kendra, I worry about the trust issue and whether it will cause them to question what we’ve taught them about God.  I heard a good suggestion about telling the kids where the idea of Santa (St. Nicholas) comes from and that Dads and Moms are carrying on in the spirit of that tradition. 

Also, it would most likely be the end of the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy. I’m not so worried about Peter Cottontail, but the tooth fairy is harder to let go of for some reason. 

Maybe we should just ‘get caught’.  It would certainly make my life a lot easier!  It gets harder and harder to pull off with so many eyes and ears around.  I do love the questions that Kendra posed to her boys – we’ll certainly use those.  I would also like to talk to Katelyn and just ask her how it affected her when she found out.  Teenagers love to give their opinion 🙂

All I really know is that we just want to do what’s best for the kids. We want them to love giving (which they do) and not be as concerned about receiving (getting there).  We want their focus to be where it should be – on Jesus – and for them to realize how much God must love them to give them such a beautiful gift. 

I think that’s something we all need to remember – not just at Christmas, but everyday. 


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by shellygarvin on December 13, 2007 at 9:26 am

    I think each family has to make their own decision. We do Santa but he doesn’t bring very much. We have transitioned that over the years. We have always said when they ask, we will tell. Ryan asked last year and we were honest with him. Ashleigh is figuring it out but hasn’t asked yet. It didn’t change anything, in fact Ryan is more into giving than ever. We let him help with stockings and he loves it. As far as him doubting Jesus, he didn’t for a second. It can be a challenge and we can all get caught up in the commercialism of Christmas, but there is so much we can do to let the true meaning shine.


  2. Posted by scrabblenut on December 13, 2007 at 10:33 am

    Thank you for the response, Kerri. It is always good to hear that other people are dealing with the same issues. We were very close to telling Harrison last year, because he was asking lots of questions. But one incident changed our minds. Eric had been doing the “quarter behind the ear” magic trick with them and Harrison wanted to know how he did it. We asked him if he was very sure that he wanted to know, and he said he was. After we told him, he came to us and told us that he wished he hadn’t found out. At that point we kind of decided to let Santa stay magical for a while longer.

    I’m not sure how all this will play out, but I would also be interested in hearing how others have handled the Santa issue.


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