NutraSweet, margarine, carob, diet soda…these are all attempts to recreate the real deal. We have all tried these knock-offs and we all know they are not as good as the real thing! NutraSweet has a bitter aftertaste, margarine is just not as creamy and sweet as real butter, carob, well, carob will never measure up to real chocolate, and drinking diet soda is practically a sin! Everyone knows that the real thing is always more desirable and satisfying than disappointing reproductions. Well, let me suggest one more knock-off that just doesn’t measure up…Santa Claus. Yes, the man in red with the white beard and the big, jolly belly. I can almost hear the collective indignation of my readers as I suggest that Santa is not all that he is cracked up to be! But, that is exactly what I am saying!

In our family we don’t not pretend that Santa is real. We told our kids that Santa is not real and that Jesus is the real reason for celebrating Christmas. We also explained to our children that Jesus brings our gifts (as he is the provider of all we have). And we also told our kids that Santa (Saint Nicolas) was a real person, who was generous and gave gifts to people (it is believed that the real Saint Nicolas was of wealthy means and showered the poor and needy with his monetary blessings).  We are not Santa Claus haters, we just want our children to grow up with a Christian worldview that is shaped by the Word of God and not secular ideas that are basically humanistic.

You are probably asking, what is so wrong with teaching my children to believe in Santa? Isn’t it just good, clean, innocent fun? Good question. I have heard people suggest that teaching your children to believe in Santa will aid them in believing in God later in life. My answer to that: hogwash! Why would you teach your child to believe in someone (a reproduction) when they can believe in the real thing-God! Although Santa possesses some of the same abilities as God (ie omniscience and omnipresence), God takes it a few steps further. God is also omnipotent, has the power to save souls and forgive sins and doesn’t give coal when we are naughty! Instead, he lovingly gathers his children to himself.

Now that I have thoroughly stepped on some toes, I have three more reasons why not to play the Santa game with your children. First, pretending Santa is real (and all that goes with that) while also trying to bring the birth of Christ into the picture can be confusing to children. I’m not trying to get “psychological” here. I am just suggesting that if you want your child to have a clear idea of why we celebrate Christmas, you should choose one tradition to emphasize. Next, trying to merge Santa and the birth of Jesus, can also lead to syncretism(the fusion of two differing religious or philosophical belief systems). Syncretism is dangerous because it further confuses the authentic account of Jesus birth and blurs the lines between secularism and Christianity. Third, many people emphasize Jesus birth at church only and save Santa for home or shopping or school. This allows compartmentalization of beliefs. Americans are already experts at keeping their faith and their daily lives separate. Why teach your child that Jesus is only for Sunday mornings? Jesus wants to be part of every aspect of our lives! He desires for us to talk about HIM all the time and to share our lives with him, not just one day a week!

You are all probably imaging me as some Scrooge that goes around muttering Ba-humbug! Well, I have news for you! I am a self-admitted Christmas junkie! I LOVE the holiday season! Just ask my mom or my husband! I start listening to Christmas music on November 1st and watch every Christmas special on TV, I make about five different kinds of Christmas cookies and candies and this year I put up my Christmas decorations the day before Thanksgiving! So, not believing in Santa has not made me a Scrooge! I still enjoy the holidays and so do my kids! They are not deprived. I hope and pray that you enjoy a blessed Christmas season and remember that Christ is the ultimate gift! Merry Christmas and thanks for reading!

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