It’s the guaranteed question from any adult that my children happen to meet around Christmas time…”Are you ready for Santa?”
My 3 and 1 year old play along perfectly, but my 5 almost 6 year old acts a little confused. Then the adult will say something like “Have you been a good boy this year?”, at which point Dylan will realize what is going on and emphatically state that “Santa isn’t real!”
The adult is usually taken aback and either retreats or tries to convince my son that Santa is indeed real. That’s when I gracefully remove my child from the conversation. It’s usually pretty easy since this conversation mostly happens in a grocery store line and it’s time to go anyway. The other day it happened in a CHURCH of all places, so the exit was a little less graceful.
Anyway, you may be wondering why my young child doesn’t believe in the beloved Santa Claus?
The short answer is that I don’t lie to my children.
As a Christ Follower – I believe that an omnipotent God created this world and everything in it – that this same God sent His Son (who is also equally God) to this world as a human being (born of a virgin) – that this Jesus lived a perfect life, was wrongfully killed, and then came back to life. This story is the basis of our faith and what my whole life revolves around.
That story can be quite unbelievable if you really think about it. That’s why it requires faith. The same is true of the Santa Claus story, except that it isn’t true.
For my young child, I and his mother are the source of his world view – of pretty much all that he “knows.” He will believe anything we tell him because he has no life experience to make him doubt. In fact, we encourage that view because we feel it is our duty to “train” our children in the things of God. Since he can’t read the Bible himself, he has to take our word for it.
Now, at some point in his future, my son will be old enough to really start questioning what he has been brought up to believe. He will have to decide on his own what he believes and what he does not. At that point, the evidence will have to stand on its own.
The story of Jesus and the Bible as a whole certainly has its detractors, but there is enough evidence for me to believe it and many others as well. The story of Santa Claus is a known fairytale – and every adult knows it. Yet, for some reason, we go to great lengths to convince our impressionable children that he is indeed real and lives at the north pole and rides in a sleigh with flying reindeer. Even when they doubt and ask questions, we try even harder to keep them believing something we know is not true because it’s cute. We all know that at some point in time, they will realize this was all a lie.
What is to stop them from thinking the same thing about Jesus?
If my child, who knows that Dad and Mom would never lie to him, finds out that for years we lied to him about this fanciful story – why should they continue to believe me about the incredible story of Jesus?
Personally, I don’t want to give my children any reason to doubt the truth. I don’t want my kids to ever have to wonder if they can really trust what I say. And that is why we do not pretend that Santa is real in our house.
It’s also really difficult to convince children that Christmas is NOT about presents when the whole point of Santa is that he brings you presents!
With all of that said…
I am not anti-Santa. I don’t think he is the devil or that this cultural icon should be erased. I think it is fun in the proper context. So, we don’t tell our kids to avoid all things Santa – we tell them it is a game that is fun to play. So, we still talk about Santa, and sing songs about Santa, and watch movies about Santa, and even dress up like Santa. But it is always done in the context that this is a game and we are pretending. We also teach them about Saint Nicolaus and where the idea of Santa Claus came from.
Before we had children, my wife and I determined to raise them to know the wonderful God that we both serve. We even went in front of the church body and dedicated our children to him and promised in front of many people that we would raise them in the truth.
Will we be perfect? Of course not. Will we make mistakes and sometimes teach them things that are wrong? Of course. But one thing we will not do is intentionally deceive them. And this is the reason our kids do not believe in Santa.