Why We Don’t Do Santa

Posted on December 11, 2011. Filed under: Culture | Tags: , |

Scrooge McDuck

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Yup, we’re one of ‘those’ families. Our kids won’t wait in line to sit on Santa’s lap. They won’t write him letters explaining what they want and how good they’ve been this year. The only ‘spies’ on our shelf are a few Russian authors. Simply put, we don’t do Santa.

Most people don’t bother asking why we chose to pass on this tradition. They simply assume we are some sort of holiday Scrooges that want our children to be misfits among their friends. While we may eventually take pleasure in their torment when they are teenagers, for now, that isn’t the case. Nor do I think that Christians who do Santa are ‘bad’ or ‘less Christian.’ I just know it isn’t for our family.

As it is traditionally played out, the story of Santa contradicts what we are teaching our children on multiple levels. First, there is the bit about telling them a story that is, simply put, a lie. If Christians are called to imitate Christ, I don’t know how to do this while also condoning lying. God does not lie (Num 23:19). He is truth (John 14:6). I know that’s a bit simplistic, but that’s what’s great about the truth. Once you start dressing it up with caveats (“Well, I did it and I’m okay,” “Yes, but he’ll miss out on the magic of Christmas,” or “I know, but I really want to see her face light up”), chances are you’re justifying lies rather than living for the truth.

This ‘white lie’ builds from its little details of flying reindeer into ultimately teaching kids that being good gets you in with Santa (some parents even use this as leverage to blackmail good behavior). But, this lie contradicts the most basic tenant of Christianity we are trying to convey to our kids. There is nothing we can ‘do’ to be with God; it is only by grace we are saved (Eph 2:8-9). That was the whole point of Christ coming to earth. We all fall short, so we need a savior (Romans 3:23).

On a less cosmic but still important note, the Santa story teaches kids that there are ‘free lunches.’ Milton Friedman and JC would both have a problem with this one. “A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies has no sense” (Prov 12:11). “Those unwilling to work shall not eat” (2 Thes 3:10). You don’t get something for nothing. You work for it, or someone (that would be the parents) did for you. It’s Christianity 101 meets economics 101 (hm, I feel another post coming on…).

Now, even if I could get past all the above, there’s still the problem that today, like it or not, Christmas is a consumer holiday, not a Christian holiday. Most of us (myself included) are more concerned with the shopping, cookies, gift exchanges, pagan conifers, decorations, ugly Christmas sweaters, fairy tale traditions, and even ‘the family and friends’ – not Christ. While some of these may be more noble than others, they aren’t what the holiday is really about. For some of us, it takes a politically incorrect “Charlie Brown Christmas” to remind us. And while downplaying Santa and his elves won’t guarantee that my kids will focus on Christ this time of year, it certainly eliminates much of the competition (what 5-year-old thinks salvation from Jesus is better than a Wii from Santa?).

Now Paul never addressed Santa, but he did talk about something similar. In 1 Corinthians chapter 8, Paul told the Corinthians not to get too worried about eating food that had been sacrificed to idols since they all knew the idols didn’t exist (and food was still good!). In the same way, adults know Santa isn’t real and the presents ‘from’ him still bring happiness and joy. But Paul did warn that there were others who didn’t realize the idols were fake and that those were the people who would look to leaders with ‘superior knowledge’ for guidance. He said that the actions of these leaders, shouldn’t be a stumbling block for the ‘weak’.

Now, food isn’t Santa, I get it. But as a parent, I hope I’m the one with ‘superior knowledge’ and that the kids are the ‘weak.’ I can’t do something out of peer pressure or tradition, especially if it could be a stumbling block for my kids’ faith. How can I teach them about truth, honesty, grace, and hard work not to mention massive floods, giant fish, or the dead rising from the grave expecting them to see me as an authority while I simultaneously feed them lies in the name of ‘fun’ or ‘magic’? Some might get past this or possibly ignore it, but my husband and I can’t.

So, while I realize that most of you don’t agree with me, hopefully you can understand where our family decision came from. We didn’t come to it lightly and know it’s a bit weird, but it is what’s best for our family. And if you don’t like it… Bah humbug.


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2 Responses to “Why We Don’t Do Santa”

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Hey girl! Love your post, thanks for sharing. And just for the record, we are “weird” like you! (I believe the Bible calls it “a peculiar people”:) ) Merry CHRISTmas!

Awesome to hear and can’t say I’m surprised you’re “weird” too! So glad you enjoyed it. I’m trying to build up a base, so feel free to pass it along or join the Facebook group. Merry CHRISTmas to your family as well!

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