Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Merry Christmas, Hold the Santa?

Someone on one of the homeschool lists I read raised the Santa question last week. I finally composed my thoughts enough to get them down on paper. I know my view tends to be a minority in the Christian community, but here it is, for what it's worth:

I don't have a problem with Santa infringing on Christmas, because
our family's religious tradition does not include Christmas. We actually
celebrate it more as a family holiday than a religious day. We have
people within our religious tradition who don't celebrate any kind of
Christmas at all, and we don't allow Christmas trappings in our church building.
We worship the Lord very simply, and icons and more elaborate rituals tend to be frowned upon. We actually had pangs as young parents about "doing" Advent and putting
out nativity scenes. (Mr. Honey and I finally determined, through prayer and
patience, in agreement with the Apostle Paul in Philippians 1, that we are just glad that Christ is being mentioned in our culture whenever He is, and
that we can honor Christ with these symbols in our home).

Santa is simply a fun mythology we engage in as part of
our Christmas tradition. We haven't lied to our children. Very matter-
of-factly, and without talk of real or imaginary, we took them to see
Santa Claus from the time they were little, left out cookies, gave gifts 'from Santa', and wrote a little thank-you note 'from Santa' on Christmas morning.
It was similar to the practice of the tooth fairy ("Oh, you lost a tooth! You need to put it under your pillow for the tooth fairy!")

As each child began asking, "Is Santa Claus real?" we replied, "What do you think?" thus inviting the child to continue the game, or to take the next step in growing up. As each child came out of the fantasy, she was invited to take part in the
setting out of presents for the other children. This has caused an increase in tenderness of heart where giving gifts is concerned.

(We also never told the children to look out because Santa was watching and might not bring toys if they weren't good.)

All three of my children now understand the myth that is Santa, and not
one of them have had their faith in the Lord shaken because of it. We celebrate Christ every day of the year, with a reverence and humility that sets Him apart from every little mythology we may indulge in as fun. I think this has kept our children from questioning their faith when they were finally ready to grow into a more utilitarian and less imaginative knowledge of Santa.

I'm not trying to persuade anyone to 'come over to the Santa camp'.
It really isn't that important-- it's one of those things addressed in
Romans 14:

One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.

I'm not going to tell anyone that they ought not to keep Christmas Day as more sacred than another day, either. But I wanted to present an alternate point of view, one that I hope is still Christian.


Jubilee said...

Very well spoken, Katie.

We "did Santa" when our kids were little, but I never could keep up in later months/years with which gifts came from me & which from Santa. I kept getting caught in Santa memory mistakes!

I, like you, said, "What do you think?" when they really began pushing, which was very young in our case, maybe 5. Our kids are pushy. If they really pushed hard, I'd tell them. I could usually put it off for a while with, "If you don't REALLY want to know, then you shouldn't ask too many questions." This let them know, truly, that Santa wasn't "real" but gave them the option of continuing in their childish fantasy if they wanted.

I wish I'd thought of letting them help with the Santa gifts to their siblings, that's a really great idea. Too late now, though. They already told the triplets the truth. In fact they told a little too gleefully/know-it-all-ish, I'm afraid.

I liked doing Santa, but I also like not having to pretend - it was just too much work once they got past about 4. I was willing to play the game if it was easy, but I wasn't willing to jump through a bunch of hoops to keep it going, kwim?

We still take Santa pictures every year, though. Although Kaleb harumphed about it this year. :) I told him to just do it for his Mama. He's such a sweet boy.

Katie said...

I couldn't keep the Santa gifts straight either! But they are used to my fuzzy brain where things like that are concerned (I can't even remember who owns which shirt or who owns which doll a lot of times-- they trade so much!). My older two held onto the tradition longer than my youngest, and she finally gave it up at age seven.

We still take Santa pictures too. They were the tallest children in line the other day at Stonebriar mall, lol!