The Great Santa Debate – What should Christians say about Santa?

There were times when being the preacher’s wife placed me in an uncomfortable position.  Christmas was one of those times.   The “Santa debate”, the discussion of what to do with Santa Claus, was one of the times I felt some angst over my “job description.”  A LOT of moms told me they were waiting to see what I told my boys about Santa, so they would know what to say to their kids.  That is a lot of pressure…and the truth is, I was just guessing at the time!  What should Christians tell their kids about Santa?  The December issue of Christianity Today has an article discussing the subject titled, “Should churches discourage belief in Santa Claus?”  It was an interesting article, and I felt better after reading it.  The debate continues!  What do you tell your children about Santa, the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy?  Does being a Christian mean your kids have to believe differently and miss out on some of the holiday fun?  Yes and no, possibly and kind of.  How is that for an answer…keep reading!

The Santa debate has been around for a long time, and people feel strongly on both sides of the issue.  How can you choose a side when both have pros and cons?  First of all, understand that if you are a Christian God has given you his Holy Spirit to be your guide.  It is possible to come to parenting answers by asking a preacher’s wife, a church leader or a close friend.  But, the best answer is for you to know how to seek God’s perfect answers for yourself and your family.  Everyone is different, that is why God gave every Christian his Spirit.  I have some ideas to share, and I also have “an” answer.  I didn’t know what to do about the Santa debate and I knew people were waiting to see what I chose.  I had good friends, and Christians I respected on both sides of the issue.  So, in my confusion and doubt, I sought God’s answer.    Here is what I believe God led me to do with my boys:

Tell the truth. One of the biblical principles that was most important to me in parenting and in other areas was simply to tell the truth when asked.  My boys asked me if Santa was real or not, so I told them the truth.  When it came time for them to ask me the tough questions later in life, I could look at them, tell them the truth, and they knew they could trust my answer.  They didn’t always like my answer, or agree with my answer – but they knew I was telling them what I honestly believed was true. 

What is the truth about Santa? That we celebrate Santa because of a man named St. Nicholas, who was VERY real.  I told my boys about St. Nicholas, how he lived, what he stood for and why he was worth celebrating at Christmas.  And we celebrated in our home with stockings and Santa Claus gifts because St. Nicholas was an example of giving!  Jim wrote a great article on St. Nicholas that you might want to keep handy.  The photo on this blog post is one of my favorite “answers” to the Santa Debate.  This statue is sitting on my mantle this year.  How do we fit Santa into the Christmas season?  At the manger, worshiping the baby Jesus!

We also made sure that the boys were involved in giving to others, people who had less, each Christmas.  Every Christmas they had the opportunity to follow St. Nicholas’ example and care for others with their time and their money.  They used to sit and peruse the Toys-R-Us Christmas ad.  They would circle the toys they most wanted for Christmas.  One year I asked them to pick one of those circled items that they would give up for someone else.  We took the value of that toy and gave it away.  And I did not purchase that item for them.  (That only works a year or two…after that they circle the give away item in addition to their list.  The Barbie Dream House was a big clue!)

What should you tell you kids about Santa, the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy?  I’m not sure – but God’s answer is absolutely certain.  Pray and seek his answer – then plan your celebrations and traditions as the Holy Spirit leads you to.  There are ways of celebrating some of the same things the world celebrates, but with a different belief system in place about those things.  In fact, sometimes it helps your kids learn how to be “in the world, but not of it.”  What should Christians say about Santa Claus?  Whatever true things the Holy Spirit leads them to say.  That answer works for most every debate for the rest of their lives!  When your kids ask you a question about Santa, give them truth and give them Jesus’ love.  St. Nicholas would be proud to know he inspired that example.

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