Thursday, December 06, 2007

Do You Do Santa?

Until now, we've not really had to go down the whole discussion route on Santa Claus in our house. In fact, we're avoiding it for as long as we can. Unfortuantely, our oldest who's 4 arrived back from nursery yesterday with a mixed bag of fun things to tell us about Christmas.

It all started well when he said that he was going to be the inkeeper in the nursery nativity play. Then he started to sing 'Away in a manger', followed by 'Little Donkey'. Unfortuantely it was all downhill from there: he started belting out an unfamiliar tune which was accompanied by lyrics that included the words "santa", "chimney", "stuck", and "what bad luck!" Eh? He then informed us that he "hated santa" only 15 minuted later to say that he "loved him"and that he was coming at Christmas.

And so today I've decided to ask what your convictions are about santa? (Hence the poll to the right). I'd also value your thoughts on how you navigate your kids through Christmas, particularly in relation to what you tell them about santa and the practical outworkings of this when it comes to family and friends who 'do santa.' To get you thinking you can read Catriona's fab 2 part article on this from last year, here and here.


One of the Callarmans said...

We are the only ones in our family who do not teach Santa to our children. This was my husband's conviction and I readily agreed with him. We have always explained that some families celebrate Christmas by playing a game that includes telling their children that Santa will come, and so on. We explain to them why we don't include Santa in our celebrations, but also ask them to not inform their cousins about Santa because that is their parents job. In this way they are well aware of who Santa is, but they view him in the same way that they view any other cartoon figure. Despite all of this they thoroughly enjoy the holiday much to everyones surprise! :) We make it a point to not talk negatively about families using Santa in their celebrations.

Nicole said...

It's funny you should bring this up because I was just saying to my husband that I wanted to write about this soon and then we had a conversation about it at Bible study this morning.

Catriona's posts from last year were excellent. We've made the same decision not to have Santa for similar reasons.

Carla Stream said...

We do Santa but only as a character much like Snoopy. We hang the stockings and joke that he's coming and they all know it's mom and dad who fill their stockings. Why should some made up jolly old man get the credit?? My son told his whole nursery school class there is no such thing as Santa. Wow. Did Mommy get in trouble over that one.
We focus more on the babe in the manger.

Delaine said...

We have always told our kids that Santa is just a "fun" thing other people do. But lately we have brought a "Father Christmas" figure into our house as a Christmas decoration to represent the one in "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe".(He wears a long, old fashioned robe, holds a lamppost in one of his hands and has a leather looking knapsack over his shoulder.) I love how he represents the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the book.( we even put a small plastic toy sword in his Knapsack) Our kids are a little older and understand that the Holy Spirit gives good gifts to help us in this life. They understand what C.S. Lewis is saying in the book. So it is a good time to introduce this theme as well. After all Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and brought us the greatest gift of all! This is just our attempt to take something in the world such as Santa and use it for the Lord's glory.

Sharon said...

I've got a reputation with my friends for being a big fuddy-duddy. My family and I just don't see anything remotely Biblical in our cultural traditions surrounding this holiday. To assign Christian meaning to pagan symbols seams to obscure the sufficiency of scripture.

But, of course there is much freedom for how each one works out these matters in their own families.

Thanks for raising the discussion!

Tina said...

After reading Catriona's articles about Santa, it about sums up how we handle Christmas. We treat Santa much the same way we treat Cinderella. It is a fairy tale. We don't say negative things about him that would condemn others and we don't push Santa and make him the theme of Christmas. We have told them the story of the origin of Santa and how far he has come from the original idea of St. Nicholas.

We don't stress about it or try to "protect" our children from it and we actually treat it rather casually - and so the kids really don't think it is a big deal. They don't go around stressing that Santa isn't real to other kids because we haven't made it to be a big deal. Kids pick up on our passions. Santa isn't the fight we fight, we fight for the gospel. Without the gospel what else is there to celebrate?

We spend our Christmas discussing Advent and Christ's birth. The kids know that Christ is the theme for Christmas and just view Santa as a fun movie idea (which they do watch).

Thank You for your blog!

Tina said...

I forgot to mention in my previous comment a great resource put out by Family Life Today called the Adornaments. They are ornaments created to represent the different names of Jesus (i.e. The Bread of Life, The Lion of Judah, etc.).
They are a great resource for giving my kids the gospel at Christmas.

I bought them years ago, I hope they are still available!

Jennifer said...

I am still young and do not have kids, but my parents never did Santa with me and my brothers when we were younger. Now that I'm older I really appreciate that from the beginning they did what they could to keep us focused on why we really celebrate at Christmas time. It's hard enough sometimes to stay focused on the real reason for the season as an adult!

Christine said...

Hi! My name is Christine, and I'm single and 22 years-old. My parents are strong Christians and when I was only 5 to 6 years of age, my mom told me that Santa is not real. I always kinda knew it wasn't true, but it was a bummer that she told me... My dad joked mom should have just let me go on with my childish imaginations since I'd eventually grow out of it. But as an older woman, I appreciate my mother's correction. Although she did have decorations of Santa (like 1 on the window) in the house, she wanted me to know that Christmas is not about a jolly ol' Santa, but Christ.

padivan said...

LIfe is full of distractions, why add to the list?

I would say as far as not viewing it as "sin" to enjoy the whole santa thing: "To the pure all things are pure."


Amanda Robbie said...

We have never talked about Father Christmas ourselves, but last year my daughter (then aged 5) experienced other people at the school gate (mainly other parents) asking her whether Santa was bringing her anything etc.

She asked us about him, and we just asked her what she thought. She told us that he wasn't real and we agreed. We also told her that it was fun to pretend, and so far she'd not got us into trouble with others. Unbelieving family members haven't hyped him up either, so it has been a fairly easy ride for us so far.

Our kids have stockings which they hang up on Christmas Eve to be filled, but we don't leave out food for Santa and the reindeer, nor do we discuss him filling them. So far our kids seem to be working out who is real and who isn't (not only Santa but the Tooth Fairy too) and we've not had to lie to them at all. Thankfully their school is also fairly low-key with Santa, as it is a Church of England one with many Christian staff. Ours is one of the few schools doing nativity plays this year :)


Kim R. said...

As Christians, we so often become known for what we are against, Santa just being another one. I've tried to impart to those who ask why we don't "do" Santa that it isn't that we find nothing fun about the character or what he represents or the idea of wonder and surprise. It's just that as our view of God enlarges, our hearts are more and more filled with the wonder, beauty and majesty of the One who doesn't just represent God and His character, but IS God and the sum of His character. And as our hearts grow more and more toward Him, then naturally our words, actions, homes, traditions will more and more reflect our new hope and love. Home is not where the heart is...home is where the heart is revealed.

Piper speaks so often of being satisfied with Christ. This imagery is one of us being filled to the brim with joy over Him...with no room left over. That's our aim for Christmas and for the next day...and the next...

Molly Moody said...

One tradition in our family is that we are not locked into any tradition. Thus, we have changed what we've done about Santa over the years. Originally, as little ones, our kids left out treats for Santa and his reindeer. He, in turn, left them a letter talking about the birth of a baby, the most incredible gift of all. This baby would live the life that they never could and even die for them bearing the price for their sins. We loved watching Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer and Frosty, just like we read Peter Rabbit and Pinnochio and incorporate things from those stories - Peter Rabbit tea for upset tummies, etc. But then we adopted an older non-English speaking son who had spent years being lied to and also being allowed to live in his natural state of depravity. He simply wouldn't be able to discern the truth between Santa, who is far more tangible, than our blessed, immortal and invisible Savior. So we changed our traditions. In all honesty, I can't say I ever considered Santa a lie anymore than I consider any fictional character, like Pooh, a lie. Growing up, I had a squirrel pen-pal. It was wonderful, but I knew it wasn't real. I think it was something my parents built into me and somehow we built into our first two children. I couldn't tell you what it was unless it's imagination and knowing how to use it appropriately. You may not want to trust me; I still clap when Peter Pan tells me to-

suzof7 said...

We've always been very casual about Santa, but never pretended with our kids. We've told them that the modern Santa-goings-on are fiction and given them facts about the real Nicholas (and Valentine and Patrick). Christmas has always been about Christ. We do enjoy the Santa extras for what they are - fun fairytales. I enjoy reading the night before Christmas. We hang stockings but they've never been associated with Santa in our family. We don't put out unwrapped surprise gifts (well, excepting the handsome bunny from the thrift store last year - but I wanted him to greet my son in the morning).

Because we homeschool, and because my sisters' kids are so much older than mine, we haven't had issues with the kids "spoiling it" for others. I think "one of the callarmans" has a great way to handle it, but what about the very young who can't keep a secret? That's a toughie.

Becca said...

My husband and I both grew up in Christian homes (he, the son of a southern baptist pastor) and did Santa. Neither of us felt like our parents were liars when we found out the truth. We 'grew out of it' just like you grow out of imaginary friends. I believed I had dinosaurs watching over me and protecting me when I was a child :) I also believed my flowers on my walpaper came to life at night. I grew out of that too.
We didn't teach our children about Santa, we let them form their own opinions just from hearing about him from others. They do get Santa gifts from him, but they are small gifts and usually just one each (we have 4 kids). I remember being disappointed when I found out Santa wasn't real... not b/c I felt lied to... but b/c I thought I wouldn't get as many presents anymore b/c all those that were from Santa would no longer come.
And I was right! lol
On Christmas morning we have a birthday party for Jesus. We put candles on a 'cake' (pancakes or cinnamon rolls) sing "happy birthday" to Jesus and open gifts in honor of His birthday. Together with their Sunday School teachers and school teachers (they go to a Christian school) we make sure they know the real meaning of Christmas. If asked what Christmas is about, they will all say Jesus' birth... NOT Santa.

tln said...

We never made a big deal about Santa and simply explained him as the "Christmas clown." We had seen many clowns at parades, the circus, McDonalds, etc. and this made it easy for them to understand that the man in the Santa suit that gave them a candy cane was just a man in costume. The emphasis of Christmas was on the birth of Christ.