For whatever reason, this question about why Santa doesn’t visit our house is one that we get a lot from people. No, they are not asking in a condemning, “you are an awful parent” sort of way, just in a “how does that work” sort of way. I have had numerous looks of bewilderment when I tell people that we have never done that with our children and yes, they have been ok with it.
In the Christian community we are animate about keeping Jesus in Christmas. It is true, though, that with the consumer driven minds that we have, Christ often only gets acknowledged as a part of the celebration, not the center of the celebration. So, that becomes the place for our emphasis, not Santa Claus, but the celebration of Jesus Christ.
As Christmas approaches, the pile under the tree grows and with it the anticipation of what is in them also grows. I was at the library yesterday with my two year old son. As you walk in, there is a tree with packages underneath it that have been donated for some local charities. He walked past it and couldn’t get his eyes off the tree. In fact, I had to remind him to look where he was going.
Now, like I said in an earlier post , I am not against gifts. I am against mindless gift giving, no matter what the motivation is. It just does not make sense to me to go into significant debt in order to provide some sort of manufactured Christmas experience. I don’t understand the stress that is often associated with this time of year and the disregard for other people that goes with it.
So, what do we do to make Christmas fun for the kids and also meaningful without Santa?
We have still put things in their stockings and give them gifts to open on Christmas. Yes, the kids have asked why Santa doesn’t come to our house. In the past we have simply told them that we don’t need him to come here, so he can focus on other people. This year, our 7 year old asked about him and we told him the truth. His response, “oh, ok.” We did tell him not to go to school and talk about that, though, since some people might be irritated with us if he did.
We have been purposeful about talking about what we are celebrating. I know the gifts for them take center stage, but we still make a concerted effort to do things like talk about Jesus and why He came. Our 4 year old had asked this year why we get gifts if it is Jesus’ birthday, so that gives us an opportunity to talk about the gift that we have been given in Christ. Will they want to give back their new toys? Well, no, but the hope is that they are connecting Jesus to the holiday.
We limit the list. We do not allow them to create long lists of things that they want and we also don’t allow them to constantly talk about what they hope to get. This isn’t done in a mean way, but just in a way to help them see that gifts are not the main event.
We help them see lies. When commercials come on that are absurd, we talk about them. For example, how many people buy a car for their spouse for Christmas? That is not realistic for most people, so it shouldn’t be shown as some sort of real life scenario. The ads talk about bringing happiness to others through things and also how disappointed people are to receive the wrong things. That is a lie and we all know it.
We give to other people. We try to show our kids that there are many people that need things like medicine, food or water, but can’t get them. We have given gifts to various projects as a family and talked with the kids about what those things are. We also have been clear about how time can be an important thing to give. Last week, one of my sons and I went to a widow’s house with the youth group to rake leaves. That didn’t cost anything and meant a lot to her. Another example of this is when my wife makes cookies with the kids and they walk down the street with her and deliver them to the neighbors.
We put the worship of God before the festivities. This year it becomes even more significant because Christmas is on a Sunday. What a perfect combination of the Lord’s Day and a Christian holiday as the setting for corporate worship!
So, no, Santa is not coming this year, but there is an even greater Giver –Jesus Christ. He gives forgiveness and salvation. That gift will last much longer than anything opened on Christmas morning.