Okay, before you start slamming me on this one, read a bit further. I am confident that both sides of this aisle will have an equal and frustratingly logical conundrum when it comes to your kids, Santa Claus, and the Birth of Jesus.
For parents that are all about that Santa thing – Good for you. Go get your bowl full of jelly thing going!
For parents that are all about that anti-Santa thing and keep gifts focused on the Lord’s birthday – Good for you. Go get your shepherds outfit on and while you are at it, break out your Santa kneeling at the manger figurine.
But here’s the deal, as I have lived this with six daughters and five grandkids. It’s all about perspective. Although I firmly believe that Jesus was born of a virgin and that it was recorded both historically and biblically, I did the Santa thing with my kids. I’m not suggesting that you should, but I am suggesting that keeping the message of Jesus entering our world as Emmanuel (God with us) is the biggest deal about the Christmas story.
There is no Santa, elves, and reindeer without Jesus.
There are no lame games played at family and company parties without Jesus.
There are no Christmas trees without Jesus.
Where there is no Jesus, there is no real Christmas.
I know that you know that, but if you will hang in here with me for a few more sentences, I’d like to offer four ways to parent, while keeping Jesus as the real story that made Christmas.
- As you tuck your children in or send them off to bed, remind them that all of the things we enjoy this time of year happens because of Jesus. All the shows and all the train rides, carriage rides and parties are because Jesus loved us so much that He left Heaven to come to Bethlehem. And He did that to give us the only Christmas present that will last for all of eternity.
- As you go see Santa, or see the lights, or put up the tree, don’t just listen to the “Jingle Bell Music,” listen to some “Away in the Manger Music.” Sometimes we need our traditions to dig a bit deeper than whatever the latest ABC Family TV Movie is depicting!
- If you don’t do the Santa thing, please don’t go casting shade on the folks that do it. You can love Jesus and do Santa. And you can not do Santa and love Jesus. I’m pretty sure the with or without Santa clubs do not have a monopoly on the Baby born in a stable. Like I try to say every week in some form or fashion – You can love Jesus and not be a weirdo. By the way, by weirdo, I mean, lose all the self-righteous, self-proclaimed keeper of all that is good and holy. If your convictions are to not introduce your kids to Santa, that’s great. But it’s not because you are more spiritual than the rest of the world. It just means you are honoring your convictions. And if you listen for reindeer and a jolly old fat dude on Christmas Eve, you aren’t more fun. Just seek what is good for your family and do your thing. But don’t teach your kids how to be Christmas snobs on either side.
- Model for your children what Jesus means to you during this season. If you want your kids to grow a healthy desire to be generous, show them generosity. If you want your kids to be sensitive in thanking Jesus for all you have and get to experience, then show them in your prayers and remarks that teach them. If you want your kids to sing and know the carols that point to Jesus, listen to them. You get the idea. You can model Jesus and why He came, or you can choose something else. Either way, you are teaching your kids.
Either way – with or without Santa – Keep Jesus first this season, and honor Him with your heart, your head, and your hands. Then it won’t really matter if a red-suited dude comes down a chimney or not.