I was the girl in school who believed in Santa Claus until I turned 12 years old, I am not exaggerating. My mom loves holidays and giving gifts. She always made my sisters and I a huge stack of Christmas presents from Santa and we would have our initials on our presents. Every year she would eat the cookies we left out, leave trails, and even make noises come from our chimney. Whenever we would ask if Santa, the Toothfairy, or if the Easter bunny was real she would always make sure she convinced us of how real these characters were. She was a single mom and I remember her telling me "How could I afford all of these great gifts? Only Santa could do this." One by one my friends would tell us stories about how they knew Santa was not real or how they found their dad dressing in his costume. But for me and my sisters we swore Santa was real.
The problem with this was that during my years when I was trying to formulate my beliefs on basic parts of life, I was essentially being fed lies from my parents. Yes, it was fun and magical but looking back on it I do not think my life would have been shattered if I been told the truth. Knowing that Santa is fictional would not have changed the joy I had on some of my favorite holidays.
Nick and I decided that we will treat Santa and any other holiday fictional characters like we do characters in books. We can talk about them, read about them, and have fun pretending about them but they are not real. For instance, The Cat in the Hat. Calvin loves him but he knows Cat in the Hat isn't going to come over and play like one of his real friends.
Calvin has already told me that Santa will bring him presents or "Santer," as he likes to call him. My response to him is always "Calvin, mommy and daddy and Nonna will give you some presents on Christmas because we love you." I want to be honest and real with him. 1. Because I think it's scary for him to think a old man will come into our house when he is sleeping and eat his cookies. 2. Because I want him to know that when I talk to him about Jesus and how he really came to save us from our sins that he can trust what I am saying as true. 3. Because I want him to know who actually gives him his gifts so that he can show gratitude towards those people. 4. Because I know that even though I am not playing the whole Santa thing up that were not ruining his ability to have an imagination.
I am in no way looking down upon any family that chooses to let their children believe in Santa Claus and I will try to make sure my kid doesn't break the news to yours. We all make decisions for our families and no one way is right for the other with respect to this issue.
Our presents aren't from Santa, but our Christmas will be just as meaningful. Jesus came in the flesh. God sent His only Son to die and promised everlasting life to all who call on His name. Our joy will always be on the true and living Christ and this is something I look forward to continue sharing with my boys. Tonight we read our third advent story, Calvin ate chocolate from his calendar, we read about the coming of Christ, and prayed for our friends. I cannot guarantee His salvation based on all of this, but I can foster a relationship with him in which he will know about who God is and why he sent His Son for us and our salvation.
Christmas is very much a pagan (or at least, highly consumerist) holiday and we all love to join in on the festivities. Christmas cookies will be baked, presents will be wrapped, parties will be had, and singing will be sung but Santa will not be coming down our chimney and we will not be having a white Christmas. These are all facts (we live in San Diego, ;)).
Whatever you choose to tell your kids about Christmas is a decision to be made within your own family. I want my boys to have a different experience and emphasis than I had growing up so Nick and I will be making our own traditions and memories with our kids. This is one decision we think is best for us and our convictions.
When did you stop believing in Santa? Do you do Elf on the Shelf with your kids? How do you approach having a Christ centered Christmas amid the chaos of the Hallmark holiday?