What Do You Do with Santa?

Our Christmas decorations are probably going up today.  Yes, they've been advertised and sold in stores since September (isn't that right, Garden Ridge?), but we usually wait to just after Thanksgiving.  But along with Christmas comes the question of, "How should Christ followers treat Santa?"

Noel Piper, wife of pastor John Piper, shares some of her reasons for not including Santa Claus in their Christmas stories and celebration, and some "encouraging effects on not including Santa." Preschoolers in particular have a hard time distinguishing the relative importance of both Santa and God, especially since these two share many of the same characteristics (omniscient, gives good gifts, etc).

And here's another article from 2009 critiquing the focus on Santa Claus by Christians. It's called "Wintertime Worship: Santa Claus or Jesus Christ." Like this author, I am concerned on the amount of adoration and credit that Santa Claus receives from families that also seek to proclaim Christ.

Here are some thoughts from last year, and you can read comments from different families.  As for my family, we do talk about Santa, but from the perspective of being a fun story. He's just a guy dressed up, like the Chick-fil-A cow and Disney characters. We enjoy watching shows like Rudolph, the Grinch, and Frosty. We love make-believe, and think that's where Santa needs to be. 

What does your family do regarding Santa?

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  1. We really enjoy letting our kids believe in Santa Claus...We don't put much focus on Santa during the holidays, but he does "come to our house" on Christmas Eve.
    We enjoy allowing the grandparents to be a part of this for our kids, since we both have many fun memories of Santa as a child. They enjoy asking the kids about what they got from Santa Claus and sharing the excitement and imagination of it all. I don't feel that we are disobeying God in having this as part of our Christmas tradition. It will be for such a short time. If they are at an age (which for our kids we have yet to experience - though this may be the year) that they press us for a direct answer,then we will be honest and not lead them to believe something when they are pursuing truth. I think parents know when their children are at an age when they are asking for the truth, and that is more important than the fun of pretending for them.
    I think about it every year, as it seems so many in my circle of friends and in our church culture teach their children that he is not real.I understand both sides, and respect the freedom we have.
    For those who have children who believe in Santa, I was encouraged when I heard this last year from James Dobson...

    "So this is the dilemma – Santa is fun, but Santa could be confusing. What are Christian parents to do? This is a judgment call to be made by a given family. Shirley and I chose to play the “Santa game” with our kids, and we had no difficulties teaching them who Jesus was and is. Other families regret mixing the two images.

    What is best? I don’t know. But if I had to do it over, I would still let my children thrill to the excitement of Santa’s arrival down the chimney on Christmas Eve.” Dr. James Dobson, Focus on the Family December 2008

  2. I have always had such an issue with Santa since it is basically lying and takes away from the whole point of Christmas! I am so glad this was posted as it helped me to decide what to teach my kids and to ignore the folks who try to play a guilt trip on me for feeling this way!! Like I am robbing something from my kids' childhood or something by not teaching them about Santa... I will stick to the Truth! The guilt is gone now, Thanks!

  3. When I was in my early 20's, I had came to the conclusion that the whole God/Jesus thing was just like Santa. It made me angry to see how we could grow up so wholeheartedly believing in something that wasn't true. I will add that part of the problem was that up to that point I "believed in" Jesus a lot like a kid would Santa. Sort of like puppy love (self serving) vs. real love (self giving). Even now though, it still irks me to say that I "believe in" Jesus. Even as Christians, we can have a false "belief" system, so I feel like that word is not strong enough to describe a genuine relationship with God. Santa kind of ruined that word for me.