Do you tell your kids there is a santa claus? At child three, when the older kids were beyond believing, we made the decision to tell our kids the truth about the existence of santa. Of all the parenting decisions we’ve made, I was truly surprised by the reaction of some friends and family. I had expected opposition in a decision like homeschooling, but not santa.
I grew up in a pretty average small-town American home. We ate apple pie, played baseball, and thought that Christmas gifts were delivered by a santa claus based on how naughty or nice we were. When I had kids it seemed natural to pass on the tradition.
Along with santa, I taught my children about Jesus. Although they knew Christmas was a day to celebrate the birth of Jesus, it seemed to be overshadowed by the frenzy of preparations and how many gifts were under the tree. Once presents were open there was only the excitement to go play with new toys. No thanks were offered for the new treasures, as the giver santa had already returned to the north pole. I didn’t think anything abnormal, as that was my own experience as a child.
My view of how we taught our children changed with the death of my second-born Alexx. We watched him battle a rare childhood cancer for ten months. During that time, at age 8, he more openly shared his faith and demonstrated unshakable trust in God. He understood that you could not receive the ultimate gift of eternal life unless it was through Jesus. I’ve heard our pastor say “we are not made for time, we are made for eternity.” It was through this trial, and literally seeing my son step into eternity, that I deeply understood the meaning of those words.
Our first Christmas without Alexx was full of mixed emotions. There was an obvious void and sadness, yet there was the excitement of Columbo’s first Christmas. An understanding of eternity had become more than faith. It had become so real. It had felt so tangible. Only a few months after Alexx’s death, Christmas, as I had always celebrated, seemed empty. Through much prayer, it was clear to me that I needed to take more seriously the responsibility to train up my children. That included reevaluating the “game” of santa claus.
I want my life to glorify Jesus. I want to teach my children to live intentionally for Jesus. God created us to be in a relationship with Him. His plan for our lives is so much more amazing than what this world holds.
With our younger children, we have always told them the truth about Christmas and santa. Christmas is when we celebrate the birth of Jesus our Savior. They know presents are from mom and dad or extended family, and express genuine gratitude for the gifts they receive. They know the myth of santa, but like to play pretend, watch Christmas movies, and giggle with imagination thinking about the idea of reindeer flight. They set out cookies on Christmas eve and joke and giggle about how many “santa dad” will be able to eat.
We have heard from others that we are ruining the magic of Christmas by telling our children santa isn’t real. But Christmas isn’t about a magical santa, it’s about a gracious savior. Our children understand that Christmas is when we celebrate, with great joy, the gift God gave us in His son Jesus Christ. For our family, that is so much more amazing than santa claus. We are not made for time, we are made for eternity!