Disclaimer: This post reflects my personal opinion on this topic. I do not intend to impugn anyone’s motives, nor question anyone’s parenting decisions. I recognize that there are godly Christians who would disagree with me on this issue.
I hear there’s a war on Christmas. But when I look around, it seems that many Christians are fighting for the wrong side.
It’s ironic that so many people display such disdain for “Happy Holidays” and other politically correct phrases. “Keep Christ in Christmas!” they scream. And, of course, I agree. Christ should be at the center of Christmas.
But let’s get real. Just preserving the word “Christmas” doesn’t mean we are keeping Christ at the center of this holiday. Insisting that unbelievers honor Christ is just plain silly. Additionally, Christmas has been mythologized and commercialized to such an extent that I don’t really think it matters what we say (I’m sure retail executives walk around saying “Happy Profit Days!” to one another). This is especially evident with children: we’ve so tightly intertwined truth with fiction I wonder whether or not most kids can tell the difference. The fact that Jesus was born in a manger is just as real as the fact that Santa sneaks down chimneys in the dead of night. The only difference is that Santa hands out free candy canes at the mall.
About that fat man in a red suit… There’s nothing wrong with enjoying magical characters like Frosty the Snowman, Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and of course, good ol’ St. Nick. The songs, movies, and decorations are all fun. However, my appreciation for such fictional characters stops far short of thinking it’s a good idea to deceive my children into believing they actually exist. That, in my opinion, just isn’t helpful (let alone moral – just stop and think about it for a few minutes). Kids are going to get the “Santa” version of Christmas all day at school, at the mall, on the radio, at the grocery store, and on TV. But when they’re with me and in my house, I want the focus to be right. I want the focus to be on Jesus Christ, God with us.
Because that’s what Christmas is all about: God, and his generosity in becoming one of us, for our salvation. It’s about the explosive beginning of what would be the most glorious display of God’s infinite grace in all of human history: the life, death, and resurrection of His beloved Son.
Why would we ever want to detract from that by directing our kids towards something that simply encourages selfishness, vanity, and materialism? Why would we ever encourage our kids to delight in a few toys when they should be delighting in a magnificent God?
Additionally, what message are we sending to our kids when we finally reveal, after years of deception, that Santa isn’t real? Well, we say two things:
- First, we loudly proclaim that we are liars (which is ironic, as I would assume most parents work very hard to ensure their children tell the truth).
- Second, we may unintentionally cast doubt on the other, slightly more important, “fantastical” story related to Christmas. You know, the one about a virgin who inexplicably became pregnant and subsequently gave birth to God, only to be visited by shepherds responding to a bunch of angels in the sky and wise men following a magical star. If you’ve just pulled the rug out from under your kids with regard to Santa, why shouldn’t they question this story as well?
I don’t ever want my kids to lump Jesus in with Santa, the Easter Bunny (don’t get me started), or the Tooth Fairy.
He’s just too important.
It seems to me that the real “war on Christmas” is well underway. Sadly, many of God’s people have been complicit in the assault, heartily embracing a Christmas mythology that encourages greed and materialism rather than grace and mercy.
I know, I know. Many of you will tell me to loosen up. It’s just a bit of fun. You’ll remind me that most of us believed in Santa when we were kids and yet turned out fine. No harm, no foul. And you’d be right; believing in Santa as a kid probably doesn’t cause many to lose their faith. But my question still stands.
Why would we ever encourage our kids to delight in a few toys when they should be delighting in a magnificent God?