My faith

I'm a Mormon.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The case for Santa

A few weeks ago DH told our two-year-old that St. Nick was not real. To say I was mad doesn't begin to cover it. However, after I cooled down and listened to his perspective, I could understand where he was coming from.

First of all, DH never believed in Santa. He never experienced those magical Christmas Eves of waiting and being unable to sleep due to excitement and anticipation. Kids at his school received dozens of presents from the Jolley Old Guy, while he received just a few. I'm grateful that his parents didn't focus on the "getting" of Christmas, because I think that shaped him into the man he is (ie not concerned with material possessions or the "getting.") He's also burdened by the idea of extrinsic rewards. Why would we purposely teach our children to be good just to get a reward? (My argument with that is: isn't the purpose of our lives to be good so we can obtain Eternal Life?)

My one concern was that people would be mad at me if my children told them that Santa wasn't real. I've also pondered the reality of lying to my children about some magical being who lives in an unihabitable tundra with a bunch of elves, and who flies a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer. Do I really want to tell my children that?

But then there is the flip side: Santa Claus is a great symbol for Jesus Christ. The Savior gave us the greatest gift possible: his life. And then, in a way no one can comprehend, He was resurrected, giving each one of us the power to eventually conquer death. Why WOULDN'T I want to teach my children this symbol of Christ?

Then again, what about all the people in the world who aren't even Christian? Santa obviously doesn't visit them, so that is a major flaw in the logic of Santa (this was made evident to me in an episode of Phineas and Ferb. They were trying to save Christmas and enlisted the help of their friend, Isabella. She said "well, I don't celebrate Christmas, since I'm Jewish. But SURE, I'll help you.")

Another thing that bugs me is how Santa somehow completely distorts the purpose of Christmas. I have yet to see a non-religious Christmas show that even mentions Christ. How can this be? Santa seems to represent the "magic" of Christmas in a way that totally eliminates the miracle of the Virgin Birth and perfect life of God's own Son!

SO many conflicting ideas! What should I do about it?! I am not a Scrooge. I LOVE Christmas! But I HATE the commercialism of it all. I can't accurately relate how disgusted I am by the advertisements, the store displays, and all the other aspects that completely take Christ out of Christmas.

Inside I am conflicted, but this year I've decided on a plan.

First of all, Santa brings ONE present. That is all.

Next, we leave a lot to the imagination. Santa brings one present. We do not tell stories about Santa. We don't talk about Reindeer or the North Pole. Somehow, DD1 has gleaned that information from friends and other sources. But we don't elaborate.

Finally, any time we DO mention Santa, we are sure to explain that Santa brings us a present to remind us that Jesus gave us the best gift at all.

There is a magical quality about Santa. I don't want to take that away from my kids. But, if they ask "Is Santa real?" I'm not going to go to great lengths to convince them. My response will probably be: "What do you think?"

My question for you is this: What do you think?


Brandon and Julie said...

my sister has Santa bring 3 gifts one representing each of the wisemen's gifts. Something they need, something they want and something to read. They understand as will my children that just because Santa comes, doesn't mean we get to forget about our Savior. We still have our fun Christmas excitement but on Christmas Eve we share the story of the Birth of that babe, and we spend that time as a family!

Jewls said...

If your kid tells my kid there's no Santa I'm going to kick your butt...

totally kidding! :) I remember finding out there was no Santa and being ticked that mom and dad lied to me! I hate the commercialism of Christmas too, it's so overwhelming and so hard not to get sucked up into the "more, more, more" mentality...really, little kids could care less about the stuff anyway, Zac was more excited about the wrapping paper!

I LOVE what Julie said. Trudy does the same thing with her boys, Santa is like the wise men, three gifts. Something to wear, something spiritual and one toy/want.