Warning and disclaimer…this post could be controversial, but please know that is not my heart and I support however people choose to do things for their family.
I was talking with a friend this weekend that has 3 kids – their oldest being 4. They are digging hard into the process of trying to decide whether to tell their kids about Santa or not, as in whether Santa is real or whether Santa isn’t real and just to focus on Jesus. It brought back so many memories for me, as just a few years ago Ed and I were in their boat and were praying, reading, talking, and thinking long and hard about what path we were going to choose to follow for our kids and family.
If you don’t have kids, or if you just did Santa without giving it much thought, let me just tell you: it is a real big deal in the Christian world and while we were processing this, most Christian families we knew were as well. Basically, it boiled down to this for us and many others we knew – Would telling our kids about Santa undermine the meaning of Christmas being about Jesus? Would our kids, once they found out Santa isn’t real, then begin to question whether Jesus wasn’t real, too and feel like we were lying to them? Would doing Santa cause us to parent focused on behavior and “being good” which is bribing instead of focusing on their hearts and first time obedience? Would our kids miss out on the magic of Christmas if we decided not to do it and would they tell their friends who do believe in Santa? I am sure there are WAY more, but these were the gist.
Again, there are lots of GREAT articles out there, lots of opinions from Christian parents who have gone before us in raising kids, lots of ways of doing or not doing Santa, but here is what we came to for our family. We loved Santa growing up and have so many great memories of Santa and neither of us felt our parents were lying to us, were devastated, or questioned the existence of Jesus when we found out Santa wasn’t real. I know this isn’t true for everyone but it was for us. We also felt that we could do Santa but yet not make him the focal point for Christmas, instead focusing on Christ. We also felt we could do Santa without focusing on the good/bad behavior and instead just have fun with him. And, my parents love Santa so we didn’t want to take that away from them. So, thats what we do.
We do The Advent Event as a family every year, which focuses on Christ and going through the Bible telling about Christ’s coming birth, we read a book often called “Why God Gave Us Christmas” which talks about Jesus AND Santa, but that Jesus is the reason for the season, not Santa, and we make sure to read the Christmas story many times throughout the season, including Christmas eve or Christmas morning, as well as attending a church service one of those times to focus on Christ. We do good things for others like baking cookies for our neighbors and Operation Christmas Child shoebox and we talk about why we love others, because Christ loved us and some people aren’t as fortunate as us. We let the kids play with the Little People nativity set and we talk through all the different characters. We do go see Santa, we do the Elf on the Shelf (which for us is more about a game of finding him rather than focusing on whether we have been good or bad and what he is telling Santa), we set out cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer on Christmas eve, we give our kids 1 or 2 gifts from Santa every year, we watch movies about Santa, and we wear Santa PJs. I am sure there are lots more, but these are what come to mind. For us, we didn’t feel it had to be an either/or, but it could be a both/and. And after spending lots of time processing with the Lord, we are okay in our decision and able to withstand any criticism people give us for not doing things the “right way” according to them.
But honestly, I get parents that come from both sides and we respect and value however parents choose to do Santa or not do Santa. My only suggestion: Do what you and your husband feel is right, after processing with the Lord, and not just what one side or the other tells you is right or wrong.
Because we do Santa, we decided to take the kids to Macys on 34th avenue for them to meet the “real” Santa and tell him what they wanted. We had heard that to go through Santa Land would be a massive wait, like 2 to 3 hours, but we felt like with it being the first year here, and with adding one more for next year, this was the year to do it (next year we may opt for the fast pass which takes WAY less time but bypasses Santa Land. While the wait was about 2.5 hours, the kids did awesome and it didn’t feel like that long. And afterwards, Kinsley said – “Mom, that was awesome and definitely worth the wait.” Wait to make my mommy heart faint, little one.
And, this Santa looks SOOO real! Blake even loved him and had to pulled away from him. We didn’t get a great picture of the 3 of them with Santa, but hey, it was more about the experience than the picture. And, I had a problem? Where do you put the 3rd kid when Santa only has two legs and both are being taken? I guess I need to figure that out before we add a 4th! Sweet Kinsley couldn’t stop telling him what she wanted – I guess that is what she had been doing during that long wait – rehearsing! Thanks Gammy for the cute, cute outfits!
After seeing Santa, we went to Rockefeller Center to see the big tree. It was so massive and fun to see in person, but ya’ll, NYC at Christmas time isn’t for the faint of heart – SO. MANY. PEOPLE. So, by the time, we finished here, we hit up Starbucks for a sweet treat and decided to call it a night.
We also had a chance to have breakfast with some Queens College leaders to do some reflecting from this semester and planning for next year and Ed helped throw the NYC Metro Christmas Party for students from all over NYC. They had a packed house at the party and tons of students got to clearly hear the Gospel. Here is a picture of the party:
Please pray for us as we finish out this semester – that we would finish well, still be able to connect with students, plan well for next semester, and students would sign up for our Winter Conference which is being held Dec 28-Jan 1. Also, please pray that the Lord would help us find the right church for us here in Queens and provide some Christian community outside of our team. Thanks for your prayers!
I love how you thought this through. Your children will be fine! And they will certainly understand the real meaning of Christmas with all you are doing. I never got to meet you at Camp-of-the-Woods! But I bet my kids cared for yours in childcare! Have a wonderful Christmas!