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December 21, 2014

Is Santa An ‘UnChristian’ Part of Christmas?

Tonight, as I listened to my 2-year-old son Moses squeal with delight while driving through a sparkling Christmas village, I sure was glad we hadn’t Unknowndecided that Santa Claus was an ‘unChristian’ part of Christmas.  Watching him light up like a Christmas tree while pointing at Santa, Rudolph, and Frosty the Snowman, eventually exclaiming, “this is my favorite thing ever” was pretty much my favorite thing ever.
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Every time I hop on Facebook these days, there seems to be all sorts of polarizing opinions in the Jesus camp about all kinds of cultural topics—especially about Mr. Santa this time of year.   Each opposing blog on the Santa fence quotes ample amounts of scripture to back up their argument, which I admire and respect—sometimes respectfully (and silently) disagreeing.  And though I’m not here to try and change someone’s mind if they believe Santa is wrong for their family, I’d like to tell you why I don’t mind including the jolly old guy in mine.
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With a few little kingdom tweaks.
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Everything Lucas and I allow into our home as Christian parents isn’t looked at as black or white, right or wrong, good or bad.  It’s looked at through the lens of the kingdom of heaven we’re seeking to establish here on earth, and the beautiful written word that comes alive as we’re led by the Holy Spirit of the living God—the Counselor—who lives inside of us.  So, instead of giving Santa the boot (because I just couldn't find that exact scripture), we’ve simply made a few kingdom tweaks to his character that fit in with the Christian ideology we’re teaching in our home.
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1.  We've AXED the ‘naughty’ part.
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You know how you sing a song a million times and never pay attention to the words until you’re aware that your kid listening?  I remember the day I casually sung along with the Christmas song blaring in our car:
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He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!
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(Uh, ok.  So this Santa is officially a creeper.)
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You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout, I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town!
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Yeah, this particular Santa guy is pretty much the opposite of what we’re teaching in our home, especially since—after the death of our daughter Luca Gold on March 5—there have been a surplus of tears, filled with days of less than stellar behavior as we’re wading the jagged road called grief.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had to pop down eye level with my little man and ask for his forgiveness for being short, frustrated, or simply unkind—learning how to synchronize our hearts and teach him to return to a place of joy and peace.  We’re teaching Moses that it’s not always about the initial bad behavior….
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It’s also about what you do after the bad behavior.   Because every bad behavior has a reason behind it.
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As a recovering perfectionist, the last thing I want in my home is to set up a system where you’re only rewarded when you’re perfect—especially since that’s the exact opposite of what my Jesus does for me on a daily basis.  His arms are always open, especially when I fail.  In my weakness, He gets to show off and be strong.  Yes, sowing a reap is an absolute kingdom reality, but mercy also triumphs over judgement, and the kindness of God leads people to repentance.  Grace and love can always be played as trump cards, and the prodigal son displays the Father’s heart to lavishly redeem and restore—even with the worst of behaviors.
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So how did we tweak this?  We told Moses that Santa doesn’t really have a list—that sometimes parents say that to try to get their kids to behave—but that He’s actually SO kind and loving, his heart is to bring presents for ALL children….
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Especially the naughty ones.  Because if they’re acting naughty, then their hearts must really be broken.  And if their hearts are broken, then they definitely need some unconditional love.
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2.  We Let Him Know We Can Be Santa’s Helpers
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Luke and I started an annual tradition of finding a family who can’t afford Christmas, sneaking presents on their doorstep, ringing the doorbell, and running away as fast as we can.  And because Moses is two and understands the concept of having and having NOT, this year, we’re bringing him into the process.
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This Santa guy is so generous with gifts—just like the generosity of the beautiful God we love and serve—that this opens up amazing dialogue about giving, helping, and serving the poor and needy in our community.
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And, Moses is pretty stoked about being one of Santa’s helpers—minus the green spandex.
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3.  We Tell Bedtime Stories About the Real Santa—St. Nicholas 
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St. Nicholas was born in the third century in the village of Patara, now on the coast of Turkey.  His wealthy parents raised him to be a devout Christian, but they died in an epidemic while Nicholas was very young.  Obeying Jesus’ words to sell what you own and give the money to the poor, Nicholas used up his whole inheritance aiding the needy, the poor, the sick and the hurting.   His kinds was unmatched, and there are many stories about his life—including one about him dropping bags of gold down a chimney and catching in the stocking that hung over the fire to dry.
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Which is why we hang stockings!
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We don’t tell Moses that the Santa he sees was invented as a marketing tactic by Coca Cola in the 1920’s.  We just let the jolly guy say his Ho-Ho-Ho’s, talk about the birthday of baby Jesus, and let him know that Santa is so excited about Jesus’s birthday, that he wants all the children in the world to celebrate.
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IMG_1211At the end of the day, this is just my opinion.  And my opinion for my son is that I’m not going to taint his spiritual life forever by letting him believe that the bearded man in furry red (that he sees in ads all over the place) wants to pop down our chimney and leave him a few presents in honor of Jesus' birthday.  We've taken our personal relationship with Jesus, weaved it into a story that works for our family, and decided to keep Santa around.
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I even have little reindeer prints to dust all over the living room, proving that Rudolph came in from the cold to help Santa leave presents.
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Do what's right for you and your family.  I'll do what's right for mine.  And at the end of the day—no matter what side of the Santa fence you might be on—let's all remember, we're still on the same team.
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Serving the same God.
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Loving the same Jesus.
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And celebrating His birth.
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Merry Christmas, beautiful friends.
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xx,
CBG_SIGNATURE

7 Responses to “Is Santa An ‘UnChristian’ Part of Christmas?”

  1. I love this! We’re not doing Santa. We’ve prayed about it and we feel completely confident in our decision, but we have experienced some extremely harsh sentiments from family and friends over our decision. We’re still including St. Nicholas and stockings to celebrate his work for the Kingdom, but no traditional Santa and no presents from him. I wish every had the mindset of “do what’s right for your family; I’ll do what’s right for mine.” We’ve even had family tell us that our son will hate us when he’s older. Insert eye roll. 😉

  2. ann3m13k3

    Hey Christa,

    What a beautiful way of celebrating Christmas you have. Especially the fact that you give presents to people that don’t have the money to buy them.

    I live in the Netherlands. In our country it is a tradition to celebrate “Sinterklaas”. As a child my parents celebrated it with us, and now as I have three children of my own I celebrate it with them. Sinterklaas is a bit different but there are things quite the same. We don’t have socks hanging by the fireplace. We put our shoes in front of the fireplace. We have to sing a song so that Sinterklaas and his helpers can hear you. The next day there is a little present in your shoe. One day, we celebrate the birthday of Sinterklaas and all the people (especially the kids get a lot of presents) We don’t give each other gifts with christmas. That is the tradition.

    But I try to raise my children with faith in Jesus. And all the Sinterklaasstuff is just a lie. I notice that my children ask Sinterklaas for toys or candy’s and they get them. If we pray before they go to sleep we sometimes ask something to the Lord and if the children don’t get what they asked they are a bit upset. Because they think God didn’t listen to them. (They are small, 2, 4 and 6 years old) I find it hard to lie to my children about Sinterklaas (someday they will found out: It’s all a lie) and still let them believe in God.

    I started the tradition with my children, so I’ll finish it. But if I could do it all over again I wouldn’t tell them the Sinterklaas-story. Because for them Sinterklaas and God are the same: Good old men that give you all you want. And that is not what I want them to learn about the Lord. He will not give you all you want.

    Do you understand what I try to say. My english isn’t perfect so it is a bit difficult to tell what I mean.

    But most of all….

    Merry christmas to you all! Hope you’ll have a wonderful time!

  3. Love this!!!!!!!! I love how you say that Santa brings presents for all. When I was a little girl, I had one Christmas that I will never forget. I had had a really rough year, and was not the best behaved, and in our home the threat was “Santa will bring you a lump of coal” if you are bad. That Christmas morning the furthest thing from my mind was my behaviour, as I went downstairs to find that Santa had indeed visited, and my sisters stockings were full, but inside mine was a lump of black coal and a note to be good next year. We had breakfast and my heart was crushed, and in that moment if I could have done anything to take back that whole year I would have. What my family did not realize was I was being sooooo bullied in school, and I had no friends and was really hurting. Later in the day, after everything settled it was than discovered that there was something under the couch. A stocking filled for me. I will never forget that day, nor will I forget that feeling of “disappointment”, because I had been so bad that even Santa knew it.
    I love Christa how you have shared here, because we never should use this as a behaviour tactic, because let’s face it. We all have times where we are weak and we struggle, but thankfully God does not treat us this way, or where would we all be????

  4. Thank you for your post! I was just thinking about that today as well. In our family we’re not against Santa, but our kids do know that he is not a real person, and that he doesn’t bring the gifts. We happen to have no chimney anyway 🙂 So what are you going to tell Moses when he finds out that Santa did not bring the gifts?….because someday he will. I remember being in the car with the daughter of friends of mine when she figured it out and she was confused why her parents didn’t tell her the truth……

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