Will we tell our children the truth about Santa?
I often get the question, "So are you guys telling Mekonen about Santa Claus?" Or, random strangers in the grocery store ask my almost 2 year old if he was a good boy this year so Santa will bring him a lot of presents. I grew up not believing in Santa Claus (I know, *gasp*), but I didn't feel slighted in the least. Jon grew up with Santa. So, we've had the Santa conversation in our marriage a few times, and think we have arrived at a conclusion.The issue is that there are a lot of myths on top of some truth about Santa, and how do we want to approach truth with our children? Well, plainly put, truthfully.
As one of our favorite pastors stated, there are three things the Christian can do in regards to Santa Claus.
1. Reject Santa- have no association with anything Satan. He is often demonized in this category.
2. Receive Santa- fully accept everything Santa, portray him as fully truth
3. Redeem Santa
(Mekonen visiting Santa at the Children's Museum. He kept yelling, "down! down!" As you can tell by his face, he is quite frightened).
We have chosen to "redeem Santa." We plan on telling our children that Santa Claus was a real person that lived a long time ago and that people pretend to be Santa and dress up like Santa for fun, just like they might dress up when they play. We'll have fun with Santa and read Christmas stories about him, watch Christmas movies, and sit on his lap for a picture. We want them to know there is a real story too, and that a lot of fun and imaginary stories have been added to the real story of Santa, like a sleigh with flying reindeer, living in the North Pole, and visiting all the children in the world in one night to deliver presents.
Our issue does not come with the imagination and make-believe. Imagination and make-believe are a God-given gift to enjoy. What we are concerned about is lying to our kids. Some people may feel this is "over the top." But we want to teach our children that they can trust us because we will tell them the truth. And we also expect them to always tell us the truth. "Since we also teach our children that Jesus is a real person who did perform real miracles, our fear is that if we teach them fanciful, make-believe stories as truth, it could erode confidence in our truthfulness where it really matters. So, we will distinguish between lies, secrets, surprises, and pretend for our kids. We will ask them not to tell lies or keep secrets, but will teach them that some surprises (like gift-giving) and pretending (like dressing up) can be fun and should be encouraged" (Panelists Blog).
(Mommy and Mekonen visiting Santa at Moe's restaurant. Mekonen would not go near him without me. I plopped him on his lap and Daddy took a quick picture before Meko wigged out. Poor little guy).
So we want our children to understand that Santa Claus is a mix of real and make-believe. Here are some parts of the real story of Nicholas.
- Some ancient records reveal that Nicholas was born to a wealthy family and was raised a devout Christian. His parents died tragically when he was young and he spent much of his wealth taking care of the poor which involved giving gifts to children and sometimes filling stockings of presents for them. One record shares that he helped save three sisters from a life of prostitution by paying their wedding dowry that their family was too poor to pay.
- He was a Christian leader who became the Bishop of the port city Myra that the apostle Paul visited in the book of Acts in the Bible. He also was part of the Council of Nicaea that defended the diety of Jesus Christ in A.D. 325 (I thought that was fascinating. I didn't know that at all!)
- He was canonized as a saint after he died on December 6, 343 and St. Nicholas' holiday was celebrated by giving gifts. This eventually became synonymous with Christmas since they were celebrated within a few weeks of each other.
- Other folklore of the time became entwined with St. Nicholas and is where it is said we got the fanciful stories of going down the chimney, flying reindeer, and delivering presents to all the children of the world in one night.
"Saint Nick was a wonderful man who loved and served Jesus faithfully. So, we gladly include him in our Christmas traditions to remind us of what it looks like for someone to live a life of devotion to Jesus as God." (Panelists Blog). We like the idea of being able to be honest and fun and provide great Christmas celebrations for our children.
(Ideas written were summarized from an article on the "On Faith Panelists Blog")