Driscoll on Talking to his Children about Santa

A few years ago, I wrote a misguided and somewhat scathing post on my personal blog about why I would probably not celebrate the mythical version of Santa Clause when I have kids.  I ended up deleting the post for a number of reasons–I was arrogant in the way I made the argument and I also think I was overreacting.  So what should Christians think about the Santa of the popular culture (i.e. the Santa who sneaks into people’s houses through their chimney delivering presents based on children’s good behavior)? And how should we talk to our children about him?

Sure Mark Driscoll says some silly things sometimes, but what about his thoughts on Santa?  He says we have three options with the Santa story, “(1) we can reject it, (2) we can receive it, or (3) we can redeem it.”  I think what he calls “redeeming” the Santa Story is actually simply telling the truth and attempting, as best we can, to recover and celebrate the true story of St. Nicholas.

Say what you will about Driscoll, but generally I think this is good advice and I appreciate that he does not cloud his argument by appealing to Christians not to miss the true meaning of Christmas.  Don’t miss hear me, I am all for celebrating Christ’s birth (more importantly the incarnation), but the time in which we do that is rather arbitrary and not a Biblical issue (we should always be celebrating the incarnation).  For Driscoll the issue boils down to telling the truth to their children.  They teach their children not to lie and to always tell the truth.  Driscoll sums their position up, “since we also teach our children that Jesus is a real person who did perform real miracles, our fear is that if we teach them fanciful, make-believe stories as truth, it could erode confidence in our truthfulness where it really matters.”

I am not going to tell anyone how to celebrate Christmas, but I will say that Driscoll’s simple explanation here makes sense to me and I appreciate that he makes his argument without starting some weird, unbiblical crusade against the secularization of Christmas.

What do you think?  I know people have strong opinions about this, but is it justifiable to trick your children about things like Santa?  Driscoll seems to be trying to help encourage his children’s imagination without lying to them–if anything I appreciate the struggle and the questions he is asking?  Is he over-thinking this?  I would love to hear your thoughts.  I know people have strong opinions about this because after all we are talking about family traditions that go back a long time, but generally CAPC is a safe place to state your opinion, so let me know what you think.

About Drew Dixon

Drew is an editor at Christ and Pop Culture and editor-in-chief of Gamechurch.com. He is also a pastor, soccer coach, and writer. Drew also regularly writes for Think Christian, Bit Creature, and Paste Magazine. He has also written for Relevant Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @drewdixon82

  • http://opus.fm/ Jason Morehead

    My wife and I were just discussing this a few days ago. Our oldest is almost three, so the time during which we can ignore this “controversy” is closing fast. I think that what Driscoll proposes is fairly close to what my wife and I are leaning towards, specifically not demonizing Santa but rather, focusing on the historical aspect of Santa Claus, i.e., Saint Nicholas, and attempting to use that as a method for ultimately focusing on Jesus and the Incarnation. It’s tricky territory to be sure, though.

    Or maybe he’ll be like me when I was a kid: I don’t recall ever “believing in” Santa Claus. I always knew that my parents brought my gifts, so Santa was always a non-issue for me.

  • http://electexiles.wordpress.com/ Drew Dixon

    My wife and I are a ways off from having to nail down our stance on this, but I tend to agree with your sentiments here.

  • http://spoonfulofhahne.com Seth T. Hahne

    There’s a fourth option that Driscoll forgets: 4) We can ignore it.

    Santa never played any role in my upbringing. My parents never rejected him or embraced him. I remember seeing occasional gifts that said “Santa” on the From line of the tag, but it was written in my mom’s handwriting, so it was obviously her. Also, we didn’t have a chimney, so the whole idea of Santa was silly.

    I don’t believe we ever had any kind of talk about who Santa was, whether he was real, or anything. It just never came up and never needed to. That’s how I plan to deal with the Jolly Old Tub. But then, I’m nearly as festive as Ben.

    Of course, none of this will prevent me from telling Sonata stories of the Great and Magical Frog Train (a train made of actual frogs) that delivers gifts to children wholly based upon my whimsical recommendation.

  • http://spoonfulofhahne.com Seth T. Hahne

    Also: Rich. There’s no link to comments for these posts on the front page.

  • http://www.alienman.blogspot.com Brad Williams

    I told my son the truth, much as Mark Driscoll recommends. It went against my flesh to do so, I must admit, because I dearly love tricking my son.

  • http://opus.fm/ Jason Morehead

    @Brad: Ha!

  • Chase

    I was at the mall with a group of friends once when one of them called out to the department store Santa, “Merry Christmas, Pagan God!”

    Whatever one decides about Santa, I think we should not go that route.

  • http://electexiles.wordpress.com/ Drew Dixon

    @Seth – I think that is a perfectly viable option as well.

    @Case – that is sad and I agree … I will never refer to Santa as Satan Clause except if I am stating that I won’t refer to him that way.

  • http://electexiles.wordpress.com/ Drew Dixon

    Chase sorry bro

  • http://spoonfulofhahne.com Seth T. Hahne

    @Chase – Good ol’ Neil…

  • Chase

    @Seth- Oh…is that who that was? I had no idea! You were all the way in California and we were in Alabama. How did you know about that? Wait a second…Are you Neil? Were you stalking Neil?

    Or…maybe someone told you. Weird.

  • Chase

    It’s all coming back to me now.

  • http://spoonfulofhahne.com Seth T. Hahne

    I think Neil wrote about it on DYL. In his opposition to Christmas, he was… vocal. To say the least.

  • Chase

    The stalker angle would’ve been more interesting but this works too, I guess.


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