Bah Humbug! Santa Truthers Chart Their Own Course at the Holidays

Ah, Christmas!  Children nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar-plums dance in their heads.   But wait….

Can you believe this?  Some parents—among them David and Nancy French, who write over on the Evangelical Portal at Patheos—are reportedly SANTA TRUTHERS.

These are folks who, for one reason or another, have decided to skip the traditional Santa Claus story in their own families, ‘fessing up to their children that Mommy and Daddy put all those presents under the tree.

But why?  Here are a few of the more common reasons:

Santa Detracts From the Celebration of Christ’s Birth

Perhaps it’s out of concern that the religious significance of Christ’s birth is somehow lost under a mountain of gifts and candy canes, the birth of the newborn Christ Child overshadowed by the tangible presence of a jolly guy in the mall wearing a red suit.

That’s what the Frenches say.  In an article which appeared in Rare, Nancy French wrote:

Rather than “opting out of the drama,” we are choosing to tell a much better story.  Parents who tell their kids about the fat guy in a red suit coming down the chimney if they’ve been “good for goodness sake” are actually opting out of the most dramatic story ever recorded in human history.  I write stories for a living and understand the need for flair.  But the Santa story adds more than flair.  It adds elements that, in fact, directly oppose the “good news” of the gospel.

…Thankfully we have a better story to tell—one of redemption and forgiveness.  How dramatically poetic that it all begins with a virgin, a census, wise men, a cattle stall and the savior of the earth.

That’s the kind of drama that can really invigorate our kids’ lives!

Or Santa Encourages Greed

I’ve seen parents who veered from the course in teaching their children about Santa, instead emphasizing that the jolly man is only a myth, and explaining to their youngsters that the gifts actually come from the parents who love them.  Their approach, they believe, encourages gratitude and realism.

Santa Teaches Children to Disregard Important Rules

Still others, especially parents of very young children, recognize that after teaching their children not to let people touch them and not to accept candy from strangers, plunking Junior down on Santa’s lap suggests that those oft-repeated safety rules are not to be taken seriously.  And of course, preschoolers are often afraid of the bearded stranger—so Christmas can be a source of tension rather than an exciting event.

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When my own children were small, we looked forward to Santa’s coming with enthusiasm.  I admit, though, that I felt a twinge of guilt when it seemed that the shopping and the gift-giving (and more than that, the gift-GETTING) sometimes got in the way of the real meaning of Christmas—the one Charlie Brown talked about in the famed “Charlie Brown Christmas”.

I know families—many of them, in fact!—which savor both the spiritual and the secular celebrations of Christmas, who are religious but unashamed to jump in with both feet to enjoy the magic of Santa’s coming.

I’m not saying there’s a “right” and a “wrong” way to celebrate Christmas.  I’m just interested in taking the social temperature of my readers.

So let’s take a poll.  WHAT DO YOU THINK?  What do you do in your own home, and why?


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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Chris

    My thoughts, Kathy, summed up in my Catholic Mom col of last week~ here….

    I ( respectfully) and whole heartedly disagree with non Santa -ers’ reasoning.

    Have a wonderful last Sunday of Advent, Kathy!


  • Rebecca Fuentes

    We do Santa, but not the whole naughty and nice thing. Christmas is grace, totally undeserved, but received anyway.