Let me be up front and honest: I wish Christians didn't do Santa Clause. It's just too confusing for young children. This has been my belief from the time that we had children. We were going to tell them the truth. And so when I read a blog post of Matt Walsh a few weeks ago, I loved it. His main question was "Who Needs Santa when You've Got Jesus?" Good question. Santa isn't real, but Jesus is. But Santa is the talk of the season, Jesus isn't.
For Walsh, this is more than just a thing to pretend. He takes it a step further. He suggests that to teach your kids that there is a guy who lives at the North Pole that brings presents to all the children of the world . . . is a lie. A Big Fat Lie. Sounds fairly harsh, but I suggest you read his arguments before completely disregarding his conclusion. Here's just a small sampling.
"I'd like to specifically address only one point on the Santa platform. I hear it all the time, and it goes like this: Santa makes Christmas magical. If you take Santa away from your kid, you've taken all the fun out of the holiday . . . This is what I hate about the guy. He's a Christmas-stealing glory hog. He's a diva; everything has to be about him, doesn't it? We invite Santa to Jesus Christ' birthday party, he brings his stupid elves and a bag full of cheap toys, next thing you know it's his party. If he leaves, apparently the party's over. How can we have fun without magic?
Well, you know, there's still Jesus. The Messiah. The Son of Man. Jesus Christ is better than magical. He offers something far greater than toys. He doesn't have flying deer, but he has armies of angels. He doesn't live in a cabin up in the North Pole, but He does live in a dimension that transcends time and space, and He invites us to join Him there in unending bliss. He doesn't visit every house on Christmas night, but He's always present, everywhere, all the time, because He is an omniscient deity. In other words, Jesus is WAY cooler than Santa."
Read the rest of the article. He makes several fairly strong argument against lying to children about Santa (Find the rest of the article HERE).
But can we take it one step further? If you are a Christian, I am sure you have struggled with what to do. What do you tell your kids? But more than that, how do you keep your kid's perspective correct that it isn't Santa's day or their day, but a day set aside to celebrate the birth of Jesus? How do you find a balance?
"How can we celebrate Christmas (and Santa) and still make it about Jesus?"
The most popular response I hear from people goes something like this: "Well, we take time to read the story of the birth of Jesus before we open any presents on Christmas morning." At least there's an attempt, futile as it may be. Do you really think reading from the Bible before diving into a room full of presents is going to make that day about Jesus instead of Santa or your children? Let's just be honest. Doesn't it just feel like something we do to ease our consciouses before we make the day about our kids?
I mean, seriously. If the lead up to this day has been more about Santa and what the kids are going to get instead of Jesus, then reading the nativity story from Luke 2 on Christmas morning isn't going to help. It just won't. That is like trying to put a band-aid on a serious heart condition. It won't do any good. Please don't turn the Christmas story into a good-luck charm, hoping it will make the day about Jesus when in fact, it is already about Santa and the children. Just don't.
But maybe there is a better solution. What would need to happen this next week to help children and you to remember that this is not about Santa or them, but about Jesus? What needs to happen on Christmas morning so that it isn't about the presents, but about the relationships of family and friends, and most importantly about God? Maybe these are the sort of questions we should be asking.
I have a friend that tells his children: "Santa is fun, but Jesus is real." I like that. They tell their children from the beginning that Santa is a fun make believe person, but Jesus is the real deal. Can we simply make sure this Christmas is about the real deal instead of the fun make believe?