My kids are old enough to know the jig is up about Santa. Quite frankly, I’m relieved. This is the first year we’re not doing the stupid dance of parental idiocracy. Don’t get me wrong, I like Santa. It makes Christmas magical for kids. I know what you’re thinking, “What, the Messiah born of the Virgin Mary isn’t magical enough for you?”
Well, sure it is. But you explain Messiah and Virgin to a 5 year-old.
Of course, a lot like the ice cream man, I’m not sure the whole concept of Santa is very parental appropriate nor responsible. I mean, look, we’re telling our kids to sit on some old man’s lap and tell them if they’ve been good or not and what toys they want. And then we tell them to sleep well, the guy whose lap they sat in is going to break into our house and make all their toy dreams come true. Ew.
Then again, I like to think of Santa as our kids’ first lesson in faith – which is teaching them to believe in something they don’t see. This is then crushed when our kids figure it all out and in a panic to make sure they don’t ruin it for all the other kids, particularly younger siblings (which mine don’t have, they are twins, so it’s never been my issue) parents destroy all hopes of faith by uttering the words, “If you don’t believe, you don’t receive.”
And that’s where I have the ultimate problem with Santa. Because if we’re going to justify the whole Santa dance in the Christmas story, with my theory on that first lesson in faith, we can’t use scare tactics for said faith. We receive love and blessings from our own faiths, no matter what. Whether we believe or not.
I realize that some Christian practices extend “If you don’t believe, you don’t receive” from Santa to Christianity: If you don’t believe in Jesus Christ, you don’t receive the love of Christ, and you’ll probably burn in hell for eternity.
But that’s not the movement we’re going for, here. And so, it’s not my lesson to my kids. As a matter of fact, when we fessed up about Santa to them, one of the things we explained was, “You’ll always get a gift from Santa.” Translation: “You’ll always receive gifts from your faith.”
It’s establishing that hope and making that connection that’s the actual gift.
Oh sure, my husband and I get a bit carried away with presents at Christmas time. We’ve made concessions to make sure our kids understand what we’re doing it for. They have an advent calendar with a trinket, a family activity, or a community service. It also helps that they get a chocolate kiss in each Advent Bag.
We light the Advent wreath each night and read from our Hark! Advent book. Oh sure, the kids fight over who gets to use the lighter to light the candles. But then we bask in the glow of the light. We do all the secular and materialistic Christmas hub bub: play a game, do puzzles, and watch Christmas movies as a family. What they don’t realize is that with all of that dance – the Christmas cards, Santa, gift giving and receiving, twinkling lights and decorations, the anticipation of Christmas morning – all of that is simply an extension of what everyday life should be. We should be giving. We should be sending greetings to friends far and near, we should be gleefully anticipating Christmas morning every day, all year long.
I tend to learn my spiritual lessons through my kids. Whatever I’m trying to teach them, I should really take a big spoonful myself. And so, that’s where we are at with the whole Christ in Christmas versus the Santa story this year.
May the holiday spirit sink in deep, lasting throughout the year.