To Believe or Not Believe…
Do you encourage your children to believe in Santa? Why or why not? I grew up believing and so did my husband, and I am so grateful to my parents for that gift, as I truly see it as a gift. But I know not everyone sees it that way. In today’s post I want to look at both sides of the Santa Claus argument, to believe or not to believe, and share why we decided to believe.
To be clear: I am in the Pro-Santa Camp, so will spend more time in that area, but I want to point out some of the very legitimate and good reasons to NOT promote belief as well.
The No-Santa Camp Arguments:
While most kids are not going to be overwrought by this lie told by parents with good intentions, it is a lie none-the-less, and can establish a pattern of trust (or lack there of). It is a deception no matter how rosy the glass is. Do you want to practice deception with your kids?
Making Santa the focus instead of Christ-
For many it is simple, when it comes to Santa versus Christ, Santa is going to win for kids. He gives tangible gifts. The gift of the Atonement is one that most children do not understand, or comprehend very well, and thus can’t compete with new toys and shiny gadgets. Even for adults it can be hard to have the spiritual perspective. Thus, if you believe in Santa, Santa becomes the focus of Christmas.
Expectations and greed-
Santa is a magical person with unlimited resources and elves to help fulfill kid’s wish lists. Thus when you promote belief, you promote kids being greedy and selfish or at the very least, promote a consumerist view of Christmas, as they compose mile long wish lists, and expect to find what they asked for (or at least some of it) Christmas morning.
The Pro-Santa Camp Arguments:
There is magic in believing in Santa-
The magic and joy that comes from believing in Santa is something that is hard to duplicate. Even today, as an adult, I find my heart swelling when I enter a room with Santa, and see the decorations and hear the Christmas music. It is kind of like when you walk into Disneyland and you hear the music and see the characters. It is hard to describe, but there is something magical about it. I want my children to experience that magic and innocent joy.
Santa embodies the spirit of Christmas for all-
There is not a single Santa, as parents we all play the role and bring that magic into our homes. Maybe promoting the idea to children that there is just one man in a red suit is deception, but if it is, I am happy to deceive.
To me Santa is an image that helps bring the spirit and magical joy of Christmas to the lives of so many, even those who do not practice regular religious worship and even those who don’t believe in God. I see Santa as a uniting force for good, regardless of religious practice or belief. Of course, there are religions that do not believe in or practice Santa Claus, but that does not stop him from being a symbol or recognizable idea around the world. Why wouldn’t I want my children to participate in this?
I want my children to learn belief-
I love the idea of believing in Santa, as I see it in much the same way I see believing in yourself. It is an exercise of faith. It is believing in something that you can’t touch or see, and that makes no logical sense. How can one man get to so many children in a single night? How can reindeer fly? How can he eat so many cookies?
I want my children to believe in people, in things, in God, even when it doesn’t make sense to. There could be an argument made that such faith is wasted, as Santa is clearly not real, but isn’t he? Many families make Santa real for their children, as my parents did for me. And many families help make “Santa” real for other families. My family was never well off and yet each year we received gifts that delighted us, and many times these were due to the generosity of others playing the part, acting as a “sub-for-Santa”. And what could be more Christ-like than giving of ourselves in order to bring joy to others?
The hardest question for me was that of priorities. Should Christmas include a Santa when it is supposed to be about the birth of Christ? It is true that for children Jesus has a hard time competing with Santa. But I realized something important: It is okay to test priorities. I want to really emphasize this point. I love Christmas because it gives us a chance to help our children define their beliefs and priorities, and gives us, as parents the chance to determine where we need to devote more time.
I do not wait for December to talk to my children about the birth and life of Christ. We teach Christ all year, so to me, it is okay for Christ to have some competition at Christmas. Isn’t that a great way to test faith, and allow your children to decide what matters most to them? Even children without spiritual perspective? I know that my greatest teaching moments as a parent come when my children are faced with temptations and tests of their faith. Thus, Santa becomes an opportunity to help my children grow in faith, rather than have it detract from their faith.
Teaching kids to look beyond the natural greed-
It is easy for my kids to understand that they can’t ask mom and dad for too much because we have limitations on our finances. However, Santa has no such limitations. I see this as a good thing. It gives my children a chance to explore their wants, and recognize the excess themselves, not because mom and dad’s financial situation puts limitations on them.
I have loved seeing my children make extensive “wish lists” then narrow those down by themselves, recognizing that while they may want a lot, they certainly don’t need it. What other time is there for kids to do this?
If we do not want our children to become greedy consumers at Christmas, that is our responsibility as parents. Believing or not believing in Santa is not going to change that. Rather belief in Santa gives parents an opportunity to teach without the fetters of finances becoming the reason behind not being greedy.
None of my children have reached the age yet where they don’t believe any longer. And so maybe my perspective will change when they do. But for now, I am happy to promote the belief in Santa, and enjoy the many fun traditions that accompany this belief, from visiting him at the mall, to baking cookies to leave out with milk.
Whatever your family chooses to do, we hope you have a wonderful, magical, and delightful Christmas season. What do you think? Should you teach your kids to believe in Santa? We want to know. Share in the comments below or on Facebook.