It’s that time of year. When elves are being mischievous on shelves. When reindeer are flying around shopping center rooftops. When an old man can somehow see when I’m sleeping. He knows when I’m awake. He knows if I’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness’ sake. (That’s the only reason to be good, after all.)
I don’t ever want my kids to grow up thinking Christmas is all about Santa, or Santa’s birthday (thank you, Bart Simpson).
I know lots of families who wrestle with faith versus culture this time of year. I’ve read many blogs on many different philosophies. “Santa represents the magic of this season. Why would you deny your kids that magic?” Or, “Jesus is all the ‘magic’ we should ever need. How dare we replace Jesus with Santa!”
I’ve thought and prayed a lot about where our family should fall on this apparently polarizing topic (at least for Christians). On one hand, I don’t ever want my kids to grow up thinking Christmas is all about Santa, or Santa’s birthday (thank you, Bart Simpson). But on the other hand, I grew up with Santa but I still knew what Christmas was all about. I think I turned out alright (some of you are shaking your heads in dissent, I’m sure).
So what is the answer? Sure, people will point out that Santa comes from Saint Nicholas, a really nice guy from centuries ago that helped children and gave as a representation of the gift of Christ. Great. And some people would say that anything America associates with Christmas – trees, evergreens, red and green itself – is of pagan origin and should therefore never be in a Christian home. I’ve heard it all, haven’t you?
Their Santa figurines will be kneeling with the wise men at the nativity.
I suppose the answer is the same answer for any Christian in any circumstance, with any topic that is not expressly spelled out in the Bible: let the Holy Spirit lead YOUR family.
For some families, that’s going to mean a strictly orthodox Christmas – the nativity, the advent candles, and absolutely NO Santa whatsoever. For some families, it’s going to be some hybrid of American Christmas tradition and religion. Their Santa figurines will be kneeling with the wise men at the nativity. (The wise men were never at the stable, by the way.) And for some families, it’s going to mean Santa, candy canes, stockings hung by chimneys with care, and perhaps the Christmas candlelight service at church – you know, give Jesus his due respect.
Wherever your family falls this season, just make sure you have prayed about it and let the Lord lead you. If you’re a Christian, that’s your job in all things, after all. And if you decide to incorporate Santa, don’t feel bad about it for one minute. If you decide not to, don’t feel bad about it for one minute, either.
As with most things in life, when put in their proper place and perspective, they can be completely used for the glory of God. After all, if we wanted to strip the church of anything remotely “secular,” we would never sing hymns, for those are mostly composed of the melodies of old bar tunes. And we would never use evergreens at Christmas because those were originally used by pagans to celebrate the winter solstice. We wouldn’t do a lot of things in the church if we avoided anything that was possibly linked to the secular world in some way: technology, air-conditioning, and on and on.
The truth is, it’s easy to become dogmatic when it comes to religion. But at the end of the day, as long as we teach our children that Jesus is the reason for the season, because Christmas is the celebration of His birth (which, consequently, was probably not on December 25th, or even in December for that matter) and the celebration of the beautiful gift God gave us by sending His son to the world to save us – as long as we teach them the truth – the rest is just details.
And to quote my husband, that’s my Christian opinion.
Either way, have yourself a Merry Christmas!