It doesn’t take long to realize how little you know when a child begins rapid-fire questioning you. My oldest son is very inquisitive and is notorious for asking those hard-hitting questions which usually make me feel like I am a criminal in the middle of a tense interrogation. The topic of Christmas is no exception.
My husband and I are very clear with our sons that Jesus is the reason for the season – the reason for every season. But, it’s a little difficult to shield a child from Santa and all that he entails. We never really discussed how we would handle the Santa Claus scenario, but we knew that we didn’t want to push it any more than necessary. Both of us grew up with Santa and his reindeer as figures of Christmas, while knowing that he was not what Christmas is all about.
After our first son was born, we would mention Santa and take him to get his picture taken, but we pretty much left it at that. We tried and continue to try to find the balance between the ‘in the world, but not of the world’ concept when it comes to the holidays and just with life in general. However, it didn’t take our son long to catch on to Santa Claus.
Last year, he thought that everything he got came from Santa Claus. We don’t want him to think this. First of all, we want to instill within our children an attitude of gratefulness. We want him to know that people worked hard and sacrificed in order to give those gifts to him and to others. If he thinks that gifts from Santa are automatic, how will he develop a grateful heart? Secondly, we want him to be thankful. Closely related to gratefulness, but we want him to be thankful to those who took the time to pick out or make him something. Lastly, we want him to be giving. If everything comes from Santa, what need would he have to set aside his time and money to give to others? Christ is the ultimate example of what it means to give, not Santa.
This year, our oldest is asking a ton of questions when it comes to Santa Claus. He is trying to fit the pieces together. We have a chimney running from our basement up through the middle of our house. The bricks are only visible in our living room and are surrounded by bookshelves. The other day, my son came into our living room and put his hand on the bricks. He looked at me and said, “Is this the chimney?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Santa comes down chimneys.”
I hesitate. “Yes.”
“How will he get out?”
“I guess he’ll get out in the basement and then walk up the stairs.”
“That won’t work – we have an oil tank.”
“So, what will Santa do?”
“Maybe we can just leave him a note and tell him just to use the front door.”
“That’s boring, but at least he won’t burn up. What about the cookies and milk?”
“We’ll set them by the tree.”
“What if we set them out too early and the milk goes bad?”
“Dad will take care of it.” Literally, he’ll take care of it by eating the cookies and drinking the milk two seconds after the boys go to bed.
I’m not going to lie – I get uncomfortable with all the questions. It is a big made-up story. My son is punished when he makes up stories; it’s unreal how elaborate the tales he tells can be. So, why is it okay for us to take this Santa thing and run with it?
“How do the reindeer fly?”
“I don’t know.”
“Is it magic?”
“I don’t know. I think only Santa knows how they fly.”
Lies! All lies, I tell ya!
After seeing a commercial with Santa, my son asks if this is the same Santa that he saw at the mall. I told him that Santa has people who help him because he can’t be in different places at the same time. Some people help him by dressing like him to take pictures and greet people in the stores.
Each night, I sing to my kids when I tuck them into bed. This time of year, they request Christmas songs. Usually, I sing the same songs we sing in church, but not always. After singing, ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ I was asked:
“Mom, does Santa really watch me while I’m sleeping?”
“I don’t know – that’s what the song says.”
Yep, it is. Very creepy.
I am weaving quite the little web of deceitful creepiness! If we combined that with Elf on the Shelf, my kid’s head might explode. Honestly, for only being three-years-old, he is catching on much earlier than I anticipated. I don’t think he is going to buy into the Santa Claus thing much longer. And if he doesn’t accept it, he’s going to tell his younger brother that it’s bogus.
At the end of the day, my husband and I always make sure that our children know the Biblical account of Christmas. We constantly circle back to that and are sure to stress that the Bible is not a story, but the truth. Santa Claus and Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer are stories – fictional stories. I encourage our sons to have healthy imaginations, and that is the main reason why I try not to get too worked up about the Santa Claus situation. It takes an imagination to enjoy the whimsy of Santa. Also, I know that the concept of a man dressed in a red suit and flying around the world in one night will be short-lived. However, I pray that they will come to their own personal faith in Christ, which is something that they will never outgrow.
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