If you’re teaching your kids about Santa, you’re afraid that your children will meet one of those kids in school or on the playground. You know the kind… the ones who purposefully burst the holiday bubble by telling everyone Santa is a conspiracy theory at worst or a myth at best?
On the flip side, if you’re not raising kids who believe in the big fat man with the red suit, you fear your kids will be the one to ruin it for the rest of the class.
How should we — as parents — deal with “Santa Truthers?” We asked some friends, and this is what they said:
Nancy French responded:
I’ve taught my kids that it’s wrong for them to ruin the fun of the rest of their Santa-believing classmates, but maybe parents should use the opportunity to come clean. If their child comes home with questions about Santa’s legitimacy, perhaps it’s God’s way of saying, “Here’s another chance. Why not teach them about that manger scene. You know, the whole God-made-flesh, Immanuel, God-is-with-us theme that used to be more prevalent during the holiday than little elves-on-shelves and other strange deceptions.” Parents should realize that the so called “magic” of the season is not due to the cookies left on the plate that mysteriously have a bite taken out of them in the morning. Rather, they should really seriously think about the underlying meaning of the season, and not agonize over their kids’ realization of the truth. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to really talk to their kids about the meaning of Christmas. (But it’s okay if you don’t feel like invite the know-it-all “Santa Truther” to your Christmas party!)
We don’t do Santa Claus in our house. Our family doesn’t give gifts on Christmas, so it would be tough to make him seem like a swell fella. We’ve explained that lots of families have fun pretending that Santa is real, and that it would be mean to ruin the fun for them. Still, I live in fear each December and January that my secret-spoiling children will blurt out the cold, hard truth.
Zach has almost blown it a few times, but I’ve been able to jump in, shoot him the evil eye, and make it all go away. Ezra is less of a problem; because Ezra believes in Santa Claus.He doesn’t get presents. We’ve told him that Santa’s not real. But he’s a true believer, none-the-less.
He talks about Santa, dreams aloud of all of the gifts Santa is going bring, and delights in the gifts that the big guy brings others. Over the years, as he has become a bit zealous about Jesus, he is less into Santa. But Ezra definitely has what Christians call “the gift of faith.” He loves a good story, and he wants a story big enough to live in. Maybe we all want that.
While we don’t give gifts to each other, we do actually buy gifts. We buy gifts “for Jesus” with the boys’ sharing money (1/3 of their allowance). This year, they decided to donate some of their money to the Salvation Army near our house, and they will contribute to the offering their Sunday School class is taking up to buy sheep for a family in a developing country through Heifer project.
Our church buys gifts for boys and girls whose parents are incarcerated. Working with an organization called Prison Fellowship to host an “Angel Tree,” we talk to the parent who is still home and find out what the kids want and need. This year, the boys and Jeff will again deliver gifts to Angel Tree families as part of the service that they do once or twice a month for homeschool.
When I asked how it went last year, they both said, “Cool!”
It’s always hard for me to process that kind of reaction. Is it cool that my boys have a fun service experience at the expense of some child’s very painful reality? Okay, expense is not the right word, but I am always working out how to do this well.
We do it in spite of my concerns because Jesus said, “What you do for the least of these, you do for me.”
And while I often respond, “Well, Savior of the World, why don’t you do something to eliminate the problem of having so many people with so little,” sometimes I just settle in and give him the gift he asked for.
Because like my son, I just love the story.
David French responded:
I didn’t want to tell my kids about Santa… because when it comes to Christmas, the truth is better than the fiction.
What do you think, readers? How do you respond to “Santa Truthers” in your school or community? What do you teach your kids?