This year, more than any other, I have had numerous parents ask me about my thoughts regarding Santa and how we handle him in our home. So, the purpose of this post is to give a thorough answer for anyone wrestling with the question of how to handle Santa with their children around this time of year. I pray that it will be Christ-honoring and helpful for anyone who reads it.
Before sharing my thoughts, I want to make a couple things clear:
- This is a personal post (and blog) and has nothing to do with the beliefs of Mission Community Church. There is no expectation for the members of MCC to embrace my position on this matter.
- We (the Carsons) don't demonize Santa. As you will see in the rest of this post, we do not tell our kids that Santa is real, but we also don't freak out if someone mentions his name. We don't tell our kids that Santa has the same letters as Satan. We don't make it a big deal if other people talk about Santa. And, we don't look down on other people/families who do choose to allow Santa to be a part of their Christmas celebration. We let our kids watch movies that include Santa, they wear Christmas PJ's that have Santa on them, and we wear Santa hats as we open presents on Christmas morning. Honestly, it is just not a big deal in our home.
Having said that, here are the top four reasons why Bethany and I don't tell our kids that Santa Claus is real.
Santa is too similar to God
Here is a classic understanding of Santa: "He sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake. He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake." In other words, Santa is the all-knowing, all-powerful judge, and the giver of good gifts. Well, we don't agree with that. The Bible clearly teaches that there is one God. Psalm 86:10 says, "For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God." and Jeremiah 10:6 says, "There is none like you, O LORD; you are great and your name is great in might." Not to mention, you are encouraged to ask Santa for the things you want. That seems awfully similar to praying if you ask me. We do not want to confuse our children in any way when it comes to the one, true God. We don't want to teach them to pray to anyone but God. We want them to know there there is no one like our God and that He is holy, set apart, perfect, the Giver of every good and perfect gift, and our final Judge. James 1:17 says, "Every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above..." We cannot tell our kids the truth about God as He is described in the Bible and tell them that Santa is real. It is a contradiction and it is confusing.
Santa's gospel is the exact opposite of Jesus' gospel
However, in the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are rewarded with the best Gift (God) even when we are bad. Romans 5:8 says, "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Isn't that beautiful?! Doesn't that blow your mind?! God loves us when we are unlovable!! He gives us a relationship with Him even though we don't deserve it! That's grace. We get what we don't deserve. See the difference? Santa is fear-based and Jesus is grace-based. Santa says, "Be good, and you will rewarded." Jesus says, "Even though you're bad, I love you and I will reward you. Doesn't that make you want to be good?!?!" The Bible says, "perfect love casts out all fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love" (1 John 4:18).
Only grace can change a heart. If we want our kids to "behave," we should point them toward the unconditional love of God as seen in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Grace motivates lasting change, while law promotes short-term, fear-based, behavior modification. Grace is love-based. Law is fear-based. As for our house, we are choosing grace and love. We are choosing the better gospel. The gospel of grace.
We refuse to lie to our children
Pretty simple, really. If we tell our kids that Santa is real, we are lying. Please don't excuse it by saying it is "just fun." No. It's not. It's lying. We cannot lie to our kids and then tell them to tell us the truth. We cannot expect them to trust us if we lie to them. Also, if we lie to them about Santa, who is to say they wouldn't wonder if we were lying to them about God?
We want our kids to see us as the source of blessing in their lives
We give our kids three presents at Christmas. They consist of: a want, a surprise, and an experience. We enjoy giving our children gifts and seeing their faces light up with excitement and joy. As parents, and especially me as their father, we are their earthly representation of God. We want them to recognize us as the source of their blessings so that we can point them to their ultimate source of all blessing, the Triune God: Father, Son, and Spirit. We want them to appreciate us and be grateful to us so that they might learn to bless the source of their blessing.
In conclusion, here are my suggestions for anyone who asks my opinion on this matter:
- Don't make Santa a big deal - Don't demonize him and give him more attention than he deserves. He is really not a big deal.
- Tell your kids the truth about Santa and the truth about St. Nick - Santa is not real. He doesn't fly around in a sleigh with reindeer. But, there was a great man named St. Nick, who was real and he loved Jesus and loved children. Santa is just an imaginary St. Nick. You can read about him by clicking HERE.
- Stay focused on the meaning of Christmas - This time of year, we focus extensively on the incarnation. The coming of God in human form in the person of Jesus. God took on flesh and became like us. He humbled himself and died in our place for the forgiveness of our sins in accordance with the Scriptures. He is THE gift. If we focus on Santa, we will undoubtedly focus on the wrong gifts and commercialism. As Kasey Carter says, "the greatest gift anyone has ever received wasn't place under a tree, but was nailed onto a tree."
Some may very well be thinking, "Geez, why does it have to be so serious?" Well, here is how I would answer: It is serious. Pointing our kids toward the one, true God is serious. Preaching the true and accurate gospel to our children is serious. Lying to our children is serious. Representing God to our children is serious.
Some people might say, "We just want Christmas to be fun." Well, so do we. Christmas in our home IS fun. We do lights. We do Krispy Kreme donuts. We do hot chocolate. We do stockings. It is fun, and its all because of Jesus. We think Jesus is fun. We think He is awesome. We think He is sufficient. We think He is all-satisfying. If Christmas isn't fun without Santa, then my advice would be to reconsider Jesus. As John Piper says, "If being Jesus-focused is a killjoy for your Christmas, you don't know him well."
I pray this helps you and your family and stirs your affections for King Jesus.
"Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room..."