What Do I Tell My Child about Santa?

So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. – I Corinthians 10:31

This is, according to one songwriter, “the most wonderful time of the year.” For many Christians it certainly is one of the most joyous times, and our attitudes should reflect that joy to the world. And yet every year there are certain controversies among Christians that seem to bring out the worst attitudes – snide comments and judgments passed on whole groups of people regarding what they might be doing to celebrate the season.

This year alone I’ve heard criticism of sending Christmas cards, putting up outdoor lights, and of course, any reference to “Santa” (a.k.a. “Satan”). Usually there are those who are eager to point out the pagan origins of many of our traditions, and I can respect that they may not want to practice these things if their consciences are bothered by them.

For others, the Christmas celebration is an example of how God redeemed a pagan holiday and turned it into something for His glory – just as He can redeem us from our old, sinful lives to ones that glorify Him.

I fully respect the right of individuals to have opinions, express them, and live accordingly. I have my own perspective, which I respectfully would like to share:

As a Christ follower, I try to form my world view from what the Bible teaches. As for things that aren’t addressed in the Bible – like greeting cards and secular decorations – I have my own personal tastes and preferences which I try to channel in a direction pointing to Jesus, whenever possible. You undoubtedly have your own tastes and traditions that can do the same. For a God creative enough to form the world and everything in it, there are probably as many ways to honor Him as there are people.

However, the more “magical” traditions of Christmas, like “Santa Claus,” present a dilemma to believers, since they have to do with the supernatural, and even matters of faith.

Christian parents for a long time just played along. I remember as a child going to church, writing letters to Santa, saying my prayers, and seeing what Santa brought me on Christmas morning. I don’t remember being conflicted, although it seemed Santa and Jesus were in separate “boxes.” (I would later learn that Jesus in not, and never has been, in a “box!”)

When one Christmas Eve I couldn’t sleep, I heard my parents carrying Christmas surprises down from the attic. (>THUMP!< “Lewis, be careful!“) The sound of my parents’ whispers confirmed in my mind what I had already suspected.

OK, I thought, that explains a lot.

My years of believing in Santa didn’t seem to harm me any. As I grew older, I knew Jesus was real, and Santa, the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy, et al, were myths.

Some of my peers, however, were not as fortunate, and it would seem the enemy of their souls has used their early confusion to his advantage. I have often heard unbelievers lump Jesus in with the myths, declaring bitterly that their parents lied to them about Santa and the Easter Bunny, and Jesus was just another lie.

Many parents will reason that they play the Santa game because they want to give their children the happy, “magical” childhood memories they have – or don’t have. Sadly, attributing gifts to an all-knowing, unseen person who rewards you if you’re nice and gives you a lump of coal if you’re naughty has caused some observant children to believe Santa likes rich kids better than poor kids, and gifts (translated “love”) must be earned. Santa, it would seem, is the god of conditional love and material rewards.

This year I even received a letter from an allegedly Christian ministry that wanted me to help them buy gifts to give needy children, telling them the gifts were from Santa. I had to wonder, why not just tell the children that some people who love Jesus sent them gifts and want them to know that Jesus loves them?

In other words, why not just tell them the Truth?

Tell them the true Nativity story – about the God of the universe becoming a Baby, a star pointing the way to Him, and angels announcing His birth!

(Is that not “magical” enough?!)

Wisemen from faraway lands came, guided by a star, to worship Him, and later the holy family was warned in a dream to flee to Egypt to escape the wrath of a jealous king!

(Is that not exciting enough?!)

Tell them that those who believe in Him can live forever in heaven, walking on streets of gold and worshiping the King of kings with countless other souls from every tribe, nation, and tongue!

(Is that not desirable enough?!)

When my children were little, I decided to be truthful with them when it came to the “Santa” thing. I found a treasure of a book, entitled “Santa, Are You for Real?!” and read it to the kids when they were old enough to understand it. In it, a little boy is told by some bigger boys that Santa is “fake,” and he is upset. His father takes him on his lap and tells him the story of Nicholas, the real person who lived centuries ago and was the origin of many traditions we see today.

St. Nicholas had been orphaned at an early age. He loved Jesus, loved children, and loved to give – anonymously whenever possible. There are some touching legends about him, maybe true, maybe not. After his death people began giving gifts anonymously in his memory, and rumor had it that the spirit of St. Nicholas was still at work. But the original β€œSanta Claus” would never have wanted to be the focus. His loving, giving way of life always pointed to Jesus, the ultimate Gift.

So, after telling my children about St. Nicholas and his giving ways, I explained that all the hoopla regarding “Santa Claus” is just a fun game we play at Christmas in St. Nicholas’s memory. The main focus of our celebration – especially in the songs we sing and the gifts we give – is always on Jesus.

Prayer: Lord, forgive us for turning godly people of the past into idols, myths, and superstitions. Give us divine perspective to stay centered on You, even in this season of so many distractions. Show us how to live out the truth joyfully, not judging others, but being examples of pure faith, exuding Your love, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

39 thoughts on “What Do I Tell My Child about Santa?

      1. Also…
        I think I may have come off judgy in my comment on your previous post in my haste. It was not intended to be. The point I was trying to convey concerning Christians attitudes of secular etc. hijacking Christmas, and doing a rather poor job of it, was that anytime we point a finger at others, we generally have 3 pointing back at us.
        My husband and I married later in life, already each having older children of our own. We are a merged family with merged traditions. While I don’t prefer a Christmas tree, I do not forbid it. And, leaning more messianic prefer a menorah and so we have both. My only stipulation is that my hubs doesn’t ugly up my house so it must be decorated well. Lol
        And He leads the blessing before we light the menorah and each of our kids does a reading on Christ representing the servant candle, is the light of the world who’s light spread in each of us and we are to shine our light to lead others in darkness to him. I do not disparage those who celebrate traditionally with a tree or Santa Claus in there homes. I know they are not pagans or idol worshipers. They love and are honoring the Lord in their way.
        As for the purely secular….I saw let them come and partake! Every Christmas is then an open door that may lead them to faith. Let us say welcome and merry Christmas to all!

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m not sure what you mean, Laura. I see nothing “judgy” in your comments.
      Recently I bought a menorah myself. I read that at one point Jesus was in Jerusalem to celebrate Hannukah, and if it was good enough for Him, it’s good enough for me. πŸ˜‰ (I am not a Jew by birth, but I AM a Jew by adoption. ❀ )

      Liked by 1 person

    2. P.S. As for a tree, it’s all in how you see it. If you have an Alexa, check out Selah’s Christmas song, “Mystery.” Another awesomely different song, contrasting the pretty Christmas trees to the tree Jesus was crucified on. If a tree reminds us of His sacrifice, if the evergreen reminds us of eternal life, it’s all good. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, my goodness! That is beautiful! I got chills listening to it! Thank you so much for sharing it with me!
        P.S. My husband has one ornament he hangs hidden deep within the tree that I adore. A 9 inch spike with a red ribbon.

        Liked by 1 person

    3. I love that idea, the spike with the (blood)red ribbon.
      My little granddaughter was riding in the car with me and asked, “Nana, did God know ahead of time that we were going to sin?” I told her yes, I believe He did “And did He know Jesus was going to have to die for us?” I said, yes.
      “Then why did He create us?” (This was BEFORE that song came on!) I told her people have been wondering that for a long, long time. I cued up the song, and we listened to it together.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Raised in a fundamentalist church, Santa was never an issue. My Mother would encourage me to sit on Santa’s lap in stores downtown (before the age of the megamalls), fully aware that 1) this was not the ‘real’ Santa, and 2) there was no ‘real’ Santa; he was just a myth for fun, like dressing up as hoboes for Halloween.
    I was surprised in grade school when I encountered some children who actually believed there was a Santa watching us and making gifts at the North Pole, “What dopes,” I thought. “Hypocrisy” was not yet in my tool kit.😏
    “Why not just tell them the Truth?” What an original idea! Tell boys that they ARE boys, and girls that they ARE girls; that America’s documents show the foundations of our nation, not some crank on TV; that Jesus IS real and Santa is a myth.
    Children can often handle truth, even Truth with a capital “T” as well as, or better than many adults.
    Merry CHRISTmas to you and all yours, my friend, and a Happy New Year as you live in Him who is the source of our joy!
    ❀️&πŸ™, c.a.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. When my children were little they knew about Santa Claus, first off there was a Bishop call Saint Nicholas who gave gifts to the poor, also my children also new about the Advent Season and even before we open gifts up on Christmas we gather around the advent wreath to light the Christ candle and sing Happy Birthday Jesus. The Christmas tree reminds me the tree that our Lord hung on for my sins, each symbol of Christmas has a meaning, their is no right or wrong way to celebrate the season, as long as we always remember that God so loved the world that he send us his son.
    Merry Christmas

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think it’s possible to tell kids about Jesus and still keep the magic of Santa Claus alive. People seem to hate the feel-good myths from the past (including Santa, and fairytales) all of a sudden (though they are not really pro-truths in other, more important matters). As an adult, I sometimes miss the innocence and magic of when I was a kid. Good times.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wonder about the people that say their parents “lied” about Santa as an excuse to reject any teaching on Jesus. It may be just that – an excuse. I personally like stories of the supernatural, as long as they convey truth. My kids always enjoyed the Narnia books. They understood that the stories were fiction, but we talked about the truths behind the imagery, and the exciting reality of the true and living God.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Why not just tell them the truth- that some people who love Jesus sent them gifts to let them know that Jesus loves them. I love that Annie. That is a great way of leaving a lasting impression on them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So…no lie, the law firm I work for allowed me to take home Christmas decorations for my condo this year. It was going to be the first time I ever had a Christmas tree in my home, in my life (age 35). But I grew up with Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’m not a Witness myself, nor was I born one. I celebrated Christmas till age 11 before they converted and we had to stop. But…this year, when I had the decorations in my SUV, prepared to set up the tree, my conscience was nagging me.

    JWs taught that a lot of Christmas traditions were pagan, but I didn’t care about that. I had intentions of “worshiping” the tree, it’s just beautiful and I like the lights and colors. But one thing my brother told me a few years ago, “If there’s a chance that God’s offended by it, is it worth it.” ….I don’t like that mindset…because by that logic, I might as well throw on a robe and deny myself almost everything.

    But this tree…was it worth it? And ultimately, I took the decorations back to the firm. My office manager and a few others asked why, and I just kept telling them “my conscience and the way I was raised” to keep from offending them, since they are Christians too. And despite my attempt to keep from offending them, one lady had no qualms about telling me, “Then don’t have kids. If you don’t plan on putting up a tree when you’re married and have kids, just don’t have children.”….that hurt. But I got over it. and my conscience is clear.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It can get complicated, can’t it, Rock? As Scripture says, each if us should be convinced in his own mind. God’s grace is what gives me peace in times of doubt. He knows my heart, and if (when) I blunder, I know He forgives me.
      P.S. If you do have kids, just know that they can live with or without a lot of things if they know their dad loves them, and they spell love “T-I-M-E.” (not “T-R-E-E.” πŸ˜†)

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Good for you for acting according to your conscience. That took courage! For one person, it’s no problem. For another person, it just doesn’t feel right. Perhaps, one day, God will free you from worrying about decorations, and you’ll be able to enjoy them. Or maybe not. Always act in accordance with your beliefs and let God change those beliefs if he feels it’s necessary, right? Blessings to you! And Merry Christmas.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I had no idea that some people lump Jesus in with the myths of Santa and the Easter Bunny. But I guess that makes sense. So sad.

    I always told my kids the truth, but it caused a few awkward moments. Like when we went to the doctor’s office and the nurses would say, “So, what do you think you’ll get from Santa this year?” And my kids (2 and 4 at the time) spouted, “Santa? Santa’s dead!” (Forehead slap.) The nurses laughed so hard, but I was hoping there wasn’t some unsuspecting toddler in the waiting room who just got a rude taste of truth. LOL.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Ann, I appreciate your balanced perspective. My kids grew up aware of Santa because of Frosty the Snowman, and we enjoyed it together. Later, we enjoyed the movie The Santa Clause; it’s still one of my favorite movies. They never believed he was real, however, and they knew who their presents came from!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s not hard to figure out, is it, Keith? 😏 I suspect some kids keep pretending to believe so they’ll continue to get presents. (Please don’t ask me why I think that. πŸ™„) Maybe the parents aren’t fooling the kids, maybe it’s the other way around.

    Like

  9. I enjoyed reading different thoughts on this issue. When my kids were little, I didn’t say Santa was real and I didn’t say he wasn’t real. We had a tree and gifts under the tree, but we also had a birthday cake for Jesus. I was afraid that if I told them the Santa lie, they might think Jesus was a lie. I wanted them to know I would never lie to them. I allowed them to believe what they wanted to do. I certainly didn’t want them to make it their job to announce to all their friends that Santa wasn’t real! So we enjoyed the traditional Christmas activities along with the celebration of Jesus’ birth. I think one has to pray about it and follow their conscience. Legalism is never good and can drive people away from God. We need to approach this with a heart of love for Christ and for others. That’s my 2 cents! Hope you had a very merry Christmas, Annie!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Good stuff!!! What a great post Annie!!
    I love the story of St. Nicholas, we have a book telling of his story and I love how it explains the Santa thing to make sense of how it came about. My kids were personally never into Santa so it’s never been a big deal in our home..thankfully Jesus is however!❀️

    Liked by 1 person

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