I know I’m most likely opening up for all kinds of interesting and critical comments, however, we’re talking “Santa” today and I would love to know your thoughts.
In the age of commercialism, parents continue to respond to the question, “Do we or don’t we participate in the Santa tradition?” No matter how you answer this question, it seems that everyone has a passion-filled answer. Those “for” Santa are often seen as lying to their children. Those “against” Santa are often seen as depriving their children.
So…let’s tackle this (in a loving manner) and speak our hearts, sharing the decisions each of our families have made regarding the jolly old elf.
From what I understand, Santa arrived as a result of the legacy of Saint Nicholas, a 4th century Christian bishop in Turkey. He was very rich and devoted his life to Christianity. He was known for his missional acts of helping the impoverished, even going as far as donating dowries to three daughters so that they would not have to become prostitutes. He also threw gifts through windows into homes of impoverished children. I read one site that said he spent his entire inheritance helping others in need.
Much information about Saint Nicholas is filled with legendary tales of good deeds done in the name of Christ, and seem overwhelmingly to sustain a reputation of goodness and Christ-like behavior.
Although his image and characteristics have evolved into the red coated, white haired, slightly overweight, and infectiously happy old elf, the continuous reputation for goodness seems to have not faltered through the years.
As an adult who grew up in the Santa culture, it was never a question whether I would pass along this tradition to my children. Many, many fond memories flood my mind when I think back on past Christmas mornings.
I remember waking up to find my stocking filled, a few gifts, and the feeling of love, warmth and surprise all at once as I curiously sifted through my Christmas goodies. We didn’t always receive alot, but it was enough to know that it was a special day, and that “someone” cared enough to secretly deliver gifts.
I know there are instances where children were really devastated to learn the truth of Santa’s legend, but honestly I don’t even recall my parents telling me. I have good memories of Christmases as a child receiving the affections of Santa, and then my memory skips to good memories of Christmases with the knowledge that came after.
Both ways, I just have good memories of Christmas.
My parents did not particularly place extraordinary attention on the real meaning of Christmas in my younger years. We went to church, regularly worshipped and proclaimed Jesus as Lord, however, I don’t have memories of consistent focus on the message of the first Christmas. That could be due to the fact that my father wasn’t a practicing Christian during my childhood. Thankfully, my mother continued to raise me in the church and affirmed the necessity of faith in God.
So…when I became a parent I made two choices: 1) to continue the participation of my children in the Santa legend, but 2) to focus Santa’s efforts and gifts toward Christ, rather than away from it.
We chose to continue Saint Nicholas’ drive to show others that Christ can love through him (and us). Just as we are to provide for the impoverished at Christmas time and all through the year, we use Christmas time to show our children that a special effort can be made to show someone you love them.
Our “Santa” lives on in the spirit of the acts of Saint Nicholas and through the commands of God to live as Christ lived.
Our “Santa” knows who is on the nice and naughty list because Jesus tells him, not because Santa has a magical all-knowing power.
Our “Santa’s” mission is to spread love and goodness to all the world each Christmas Eve, and then strive to continue those same traits through the year.
Our “Santa” prays at the cross.
Is it a lie? I don’t believe so. Saint Nicholas lives on in the hearts of Christians all over the world who want to please God. Our participation in this traditional act provides fun, a little mystery, and excitement at an already wonderful time of year. Our grown children seem to have enjoyed it, and exhibit some of the lessons we learned through Christmas’ past.
I’ve seen the older girls be especially concerned for others at Christmas time, participate in food drives and Angel Tree efforts. There’s been much discussion about the gratitude and contentment for the awareness of blessings God has provided our family. Although the two girls now don’t believe “Santa” is still living and breathing in bodily form, they understand that his acts were commendable.
WWJD? What would Jesus do to end this debate? Honestly, I don’t know. Each one of us must choose the path we feel like our family is to follow. In my feeble mind, as long as the path begins, follows, and ends with Jesus, it’s the right path. If Santa, in all his goodness, and through all the television commercials, mall pictures, and parades, becomes anything more than a servant of God, it is the wrong path.
Only Jesus is the true giver of gifts worthy of receiving. Our material things, clothing, housing, food, and yes….even our toys are blessings from the Lord. May we all remember to never take them for granted.
God be glorified through you, a disciple of Christ, whose mission is to spread the gospel of Christ, the good news of salvation through Him, and in a manner that provides for those less fortunate at Christmas time and all throughout the year!
Spread the Love of the Lord in your stockings, through your yard decorations, in your checkbook, and beneath the bows of your Christmas tree. After all… the first six letters are what’s it’s all about.