Each year I hear some form of the question, “Should Christians allow their kids to believe in Santa?”
In case anyone cares, my answer is simple… If you want to, go for it. (*Disclaimer – My parents let me believe in Santa and this is how I turned out, so…)
The concern is that we are lying to our kids or that we are making presents more important than Jesus or that Santa is really just the devil in disguise (red suits anyone?). I have heard the horror stories of kids who reject Jesus because they have been lied to about Santa and now they can’t believe anything their parents say.
That is sad. And it is sad because if our faith is as easily dismissed as our belief in Santa then I am not sure we have much faith to begin with. If my children are able to compare the way I live my life as a follower of Jesus with the way we celebrate a
chubby husky guy coming down the chimney once a year, then I have a problem.
The problem isn’t Santa. It is me. The problem is my lack of making sure to demonstrate the reality of Jesus in my life every day of the year. Our faith should be able to be seen. It should be tangible. It should make a difference in the way I talk and work and spend and (when I try really hard) drive.
Faith is not a mental assent. It is not just a way you view the world. It is the way we live. You can believe in all things you want and not actually have faith in any of them.
You can not believe in Santa and still be wrapped up in the materialism of the season or in the constant fear of condemnation. You can still miss the wonder and the worship and the Good News while trying really hard to make sure everything else is perfect or everyone is where they are supposed to be or simply just because you missed it.
At some point in history Christians have been told to avoid Christmas tress, Christmas lights, Christmas carols, Christmas presents, and even December 25th altogether. If you choose do that, that is your choice and I don’t condemn or fault you for it. Our family doesn’t embrace everything that our culture does around Christmas. If you choose to celebrate using all those things or some of those things, I think you can do it in a Christ-centered way. Do what works for your family and do it thoughtfully.
One day my kids may come to me and say why did you let us get our picture with Santa or why did you let us watch Peter Pan when pixie dust is a lie or you mean you weren’t really finding those quarters behind our ears?
If their questions or now shaken worldview leads them to ask about the reliability of Jesus I hope I have more to give as an answer than “Trust me.” I hope I can point to the places and times where my faith has been evident. Where Jesus has been real in my life. I hope I can point to how we have treated others or how we have chosen where to live and do ministry. I hope I can point to the way we help people in need or open our home or they way we handle conflict and stress. I hope I have more than enough examples to show that Jesus is not only real, but the most real thing ever.
And if I can’t do that I have a whole lot more to worry about than how to handle a pretend St. Nick each December.