Note: For some of our readers this post may touch a nerve. Please know we write in a spirit of deeply wanting to see the story of Jesus magnified far above all other stories – fueled by recent days of hearing story after story of heartache from good parents whose teens are walking away from faith. We don’t blame Santa alone, but we can’t help but see the effect of popular culture as a primary lure away from faith.
For centuries societies have played out the Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, and tooth fairy stories. Now there’s even an Elf on the Shelf to add to the Santa story. For many families, these stories we tell our children are treated as an innocent but integral part of the holiday traditions in our families.
But is this telling of tall tales really good for our kids?
We live in a day and age where lying and manipulation is popularized and accepted in pop culture, where rapidly growing numbers of people are boldly professing faith in nothing at all, and kids growing up in church homes are leaving the church in unprecedented numbers.
Yes, there are people who have been raised to believe in Santa who now believe in Jesus. Yes, many people’s belief in Santa has been gently discarded and assimilated into a healthy worldview. But as researchers reveal that 60% or more of kids raised in church homes are growing up and leaving the faith they were raised in, we think it’s time to be more thoughtful and passionately accurate about how we tell the Christmas story.
Maybe it’s time for parents, especially those parents who profess faith in Christ, to consider another way to keep Jolly Old St. Nicholas part of Christmas without any hint of deception to do it.
You see, St. Nicholas was a real person. He gave gifts to the poor and needy and loved Jesus. There was even a holiday in his honor on December 6th. The details are sketchy, but we tend to think that honoring St. Nick could be a good part of the story – with no need for deception.
If we think it through and make The St. Nick story part of the celebration, we err on the side of full honesty. This keeps the “bearded man dressed in red” part of the story in a way that enhances rather than distracts from the Jesus part of the story. This way there is no concern about how kids may one day interpret it it all.
If you’ve already perpetuated the deceptive Santa story, just come clean. Confess to your kids that you’ve played the game but have decided to do it differently from now on. Highlight the importance of truth in a day and age when so many people are untruthful about so many things. Then – tell them the Truth. Read Luke 2 with great wonder, or focus on the historical figure of St. Nicholas. For a fun explanation of where the story of Santa Claus came from, consider showing the videos made by Veggie Tales creator Phil Vischer – especially number 4 & 5 in his series “12 Questions of Christmas.”
How do you address the story of Santa Claus in your home? Let us know in the comments! Then – promote Saint Nick as he really was. Celebrate this generous believer from the past, and make this a Christmas where more than ever you seek and humbly proclaim Truth, and delight in sharing this journey with your kids.
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