The deeper that Tabitha and I get into the Christian life, the more we’ve come to realize that we needed to tweak the way we celebrate Christmas. We’ve been trying to move away from the whole “Santa Claus” thing and instead return the focus of the holiday back to Jesus Christ.
This is not to say that we’ve taken all the fun out of Christmas and turned ourselves into a couple of Scrooges. We still exchange gifts, but we try to do it in the true spirit of giving and to commemorate the fact that Jesus once gave us the ultimate gift: The gift of salvation.
I understand that there are compelling arguments both for and against letting children believe in Santa Claus. Tabitha and I dealt with them extensively before making our decision. Ultimately, we let our hearts decide, but I want divulge some of the logic behind it all.
I remember that as a child, there was something “magical” about believing in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. The anticipation on the nights before Christmas and Easter was always overwhelming. I’d hate to be the one to deny that magic to any child, but if I want my children to learn the true spirit of these days, an unfortunate side effect is dispelling all the myths surrounding them.
Besides, I believe that there is something even more “magical” about believing in Jesus Christ. Santa and the Easter Bunny are only around a couple of days out of the year, but Jesus is eternal! And the best part is, when my children get older, they won’t be crushed to find out that they believe in something that’s not real. Belief in Jesus, unlike belief in Santa Claus, doesn’t have to stop when we’re eight or even when we’re eighty.
Jesus does not abandon us if we’ve been “naughty,” (as if “naughty” children don’t receive Christmas presents from Santa Claus, anyway) but cares for us even when we’ve hit rock bottom. He wants us to pick ourselves back up and make things right, and he’s willing to help us every step of the way. His teachings invariably transcend the materialism of Christmas presents and Easter eggs.
I suppose it’s good that we’ve made this decision while our kids are still quite young. Kristopher has always seemed rather indifferent to the whole notion of Santa Claus anyway, so when we explained the difference between the real St. Nicholas and the Santa Claus of modern times, he didn’t seem too torn up at all. He still gets to believe in Jesus Christ, a belief that will carry him much further in life than any other.
So this year, before we went to bed on Christmas Eve, no mention was made of Santa, or chimneys, or reindeer on rooftops, or magical flying sleighs loaded with toys, or industriously laboring elves, or a workshop at the North Pole. When we woke up Christmas Day, we baked a birthday cake, had a nice meal, and spent some quality time together as a family. We talked about the life and trials of Jesus, thanked him for his sacrifice, and exchanged gifts in his name.
This Christmas season, I found that when we peel away the layers of noise and distraction from our lives, we are able to see more clearly that there is magic to be found in the everyday miracles of the universe. Celebrating Christmas in this manner was a great way to bring such magic into sharper focus.