The Santa Claus Conundrum–My Question for You

Seriously small potatoes in a world such as ours but I’m sitting here this morning, watching Christmas movies with my kiddos, and pondering the Santa Claus Conundrum.

My SIL is firmly AGAINST Santa.  She creates Christmas magic for her kids in ways that don’t involve the Santa stuff, but focus on the magic of Christ coming into the world.  We’ve adopted a lot of what she does…  But I’m resistant to throwing Santa out completely.

Another friend is firmly against Santa on the principle of not wanting to lie to his children.  I get that too.

I’ve heard the argument that teaching about Santa Claus only to have your children find out later that he doesn’t exist sets them up to believe that God isn’t real either.

But as a kid I loved the magic.  I tried to believe as long as I could…  Even after I knew better, I tried to believe.  I still love the magic. I love the history of St. Nicholas (which is what we try to focus on when we talk about Santa at our house).  I love the ways that the St. Nicholas story itself can point to Christ.  I love childlike belief.  I LOVED believing that I had a secret power that grown-ups didn’t, because *I* could belief, and sometimes I wish I still had that secret power (faith like a child, you know?).  I love Miracle on 34th St. and Yes, Virginia There is a Santa Claus.

So my question is–what are your thoughts?  What does your family do?  If you are a believer how do you approach the Santa thing?  If you don’t ascribe to the Christian tradition, what are your thoughts?  Does anybody else try for the middle road?  How do you do it?

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7 thoughts on “The Santa Claus Conundrum–My Question for You

  1. I was way into the point of view that telling them about Santa was eventually about lying to them. I took it all so seriously. I think there is a way to have Santa Claus without taking anything away from Jesus. I wish I had done that. Poor oldest son – the day I told him Santa Claus wasn’t real – he went around the house sobbing his heart out that Santa Claus was dead.
    I didn’t indulge them in the Easter Bunny either nor Halloween and I regret it. You know if you live the Christian story in your every day life I don’t think these other things have to be a big deal. They can simply be enjoyed.
    And maybe the bigger question underneath it all is the wanting to parent with the ‘right’ answers to these kinds of things. Not sure there are right answers. But I sure tried my best to parent as if there were.
    Hugs to you across the miles as you sort it all out.

  2. We plan on doing St. Nick, but since Katy’s so young we don’t have all the details worked out. I don’t know how we’ll handle the question, “Are St. Nick and Santa the same thing?” I’m also toying with the idea of secret surprise presents that aren’t necessarily from Santa or St. Nick. I haven’t flushed out the details of that either.

  3. We don’t have kids, but when we do, I doubt it will be much of an issue, because my husband is Jewish.
    However, from my own upbringing I can say that I both loved and hated Santa. Santa is a great thing as long as there are money for presents, but once your family hits that point that there isn’t it is pretty depressing to go to school and wonder why it is that other kids were good enough to get nice things from Santa and I didn’t even merit a lump of coal.
    As a result, I do not celebrate Christmas now…at all. I take what money I have and donate it to Toys for Tots so that fewer kids end up crushed by the same question of “why am I not good enough?” on Christmas morning.
    Yes, it can all be magical, when you have money. When you can’t afford even to put food on the table, which a lot of people are going to experience this year, Christmas, and Santa who is the commercial representation of Christmas seem like the worst things in the world.

  4. I do like telling the true story of St. Nick and not over shadowing the birth of Jesus with Santa Claus. It is a special time of year and there should be magic and wonder. I think you can make it very special even with out big presents. I hope to focus on the giving to others, baking for others, and not just the getting of presents. We like to fill each others stockings instead of wrapping everything. I’m not sure how this fits with leaving Santa out, But we have a few Christmases before baby girl will be able to understand.

  5. Well Val, I grew up with Santa and the magic. I also grew up with a family very dedicated to Christ and our church. While Santa still brought us gifts (up until I was married BTW) the focus of the season was really on Christ. We went to the Live Manger Scene, to the Christmas Contata, Christmas sing-alongs — all focused on Christ. I was never really disappointed that Santa wasn’t real in the sense of coming on a sleigh and stuff. I was intrigued by his true story.

    As a family, we still do ONE gift from Santa. Not only can we not afford everything Ryan wants, but it’s important to also teach we don’t get everything we WANT. We teach the true story of St. Nick and we teach about Christ’s birth. We also probably over do it with Church centered activities, but it’s how I learned as a kid and I think it’s a great way to continue those lessons.

    So, I agree with Hope. It’s about what you live. But I think Santa or St. Nick or whatever you want to call him, can be a part of it. I also agree with FMS. Giving to others is a great lesson for kids to learn. We do Operation Christmas Child and have since before we had kids. We don’t have a lot, but some have even less.

    Good luck with it all!

  6. Hi, just saw your blog from another blog and figured I’d check it out.

    My family wasn’t particularly Christian growing up.. I mean we prayed over Christmas Dinner and I knew who Jesus was, that’s as Christian as it was in our house. However, with Santa, my family had always celebrated the season and the reason. We celebrated Christ in little ways, and we celebrated family being together. Sure as kids we couldnt wait for Santa, and a lot of the times he seemed like the reason to celebrate.. but if you keep a strong emphasis on Christ, your kids will know the real reason for the season. After all, even if you tell them there is no Santa, they wont be any less excited for presents!

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