Saturday, December 25, 2010

To Santa, Or Not To Santa?

My wife and I recently made a decision for our household: we're not going to "do" Santa with our kids. We've kind of waffled on whether or not to tell our kids about Santa Claus for the past 2 years (as long as one of them has been old enough to care), and we've finally decided not to do it.

A large part of our reasoning for making a firm decision on it at this point in time has to do with this video that we recently saw. It's a video of John Piper talking about how he celebrated Christmas with his kids when they were young. Not that John Piper is the authority on all things Christmas or how to celebrate it, but I think he brings up some great points. Check it out.

One of his best points, I think, is that Santa is poor substitute for Christ. I often hear people say around this time of year, "Jesus is the reason for the season." Why do we need to be reminded of that? Because, in this society, Santa (and the materialism he represents) has become, at least to some extent, a substitute for Christ. I don't want to be a part of that, and I don't ever want my kids to think that Christmas is about anything other than Christ.

When it comes down to it, the celebration of the Christmas holiday is a fantastic way to illustrate the incarnation - we give each other gifts to remind us of the gift that was given to us by God: Christ. I want this to be the focus of our family's Christmas celebration - not Santa, or even the giving of the gifts themselves. It'd be hard to make that point by saying that Santa is the instrument by which God gives us gifts to remind us of his gift of Christ! Especially when it comes time to tell the kids the truth about Santa.

Now, before anyone thinks I'm a total fundamentalist humbug, let me say that I have nothing against Santa Claus or families who choose to tell their kids that he is the one who brings them gifts. It is not my intention to condemn anyone who "does" Santa (if that were my intention, I would have to condemn my own parents, who perpetuated the Santa myth with me until my sister ruined it for me one night at the tender age of 9, which totally crushed me, I might add; I would also have to condemn my sister and brother-in-law, which I'm not prepared to do). I think "doing" Santa can be done while still maintaining the spiritual element of Christmas. I also think that celebrating Christmas without Santa can still miss the whole point of the holiday as well. It's not as though Santa is some magic ingredient that either must or must not be added for the holiday to have any meaning. That is up to those who celebrate it, and it's why Christmas can still be spiritually celebrated, even with Santa. We've just decided not to do it.


Anonymous said...

Hey Joel - I was checking out the building blog on the web today,and took a look at yours too. Here is an alternative to the Santa emphasis (alas too late for my kids, they were "Santasized" - although we never made a big deal out of Santa. He only left the stockings with small stuff they got the real presents from us.) Anyway I imagine one could emphasize the Magi and the gifts they brought to the Savior, and choose three special gifts as a family one could give to Christ especially over the holidays.

Joel said...

That is a good idea. It also might be a way to bring service into the picture as well. Piper also said that his family used to set their gifts around a nativity scene, which I also like. It emphasizes why we're giving gifts in the first place.

Susan said...

:) Usually do not comment on anything.... but, "Jesus is the reason season".... well I think he is the reason for ALL the seasons.