I’ve made up my mind. I’m not going to lie to my future children about Santa Claus.
Call me a grinch, a Scrooge, or even a communist, as one of my colleagues recently joked, but I refuse to sacrifice my kids’ trusting relationship with me over a fat man with a beard.
I’m not alone in my hesitation to incorporate Kris Kringle into sacred Christmas traditions. Plenty of parents are uncomfortable with the idea of giving credit for their thoughtful, hand-picked gifts to a mysterious elderly man who trespasses through the chimney, eats the leftover cookies, and lets his reindeer trample on the roof.
One of the most obvious rationales for abandoning fanfare about Santa is that it requires blatant lying. At a time when every institution in the U.S. seeks to distance children from their parents, I want my kids to know they can and should trust me and my husband with their lives, hopes, dreams, grief, and hardships. I also want them to know they can trust God with those.
Sending mixed messages about whether God, the divinely associated modern-day Santa, and invisible historical figures are real is not something I want my young, vulnerable children to feel like they must face alone.
The tradition associated with Santa is fun and may be done in good faith, but when the truth surfaces, it requires an explanation for years of deception and deceit. And oftentimes, that deception and deceit were projected on innocent, naive children for the benefit of their parents’ enjoyment.
Parents might think that giving their kids a “magical” Christmas is worth being dishonest, a falsehood that my Santa-less, magical childhood proves wrong. But what happens when that “magic” wears off?
I’ve seen and heard of too many kids crying after learning Santa isn’t real. The truth about Santa breaks their hearts and their trust, especially if that truth surfaces prematurely. Even some parents become irrationally upset that their child’s Christmas is “ruined” after he is informed the “magic” that gave Santa his allure isn’t real.
I don’t care if you choose to let your kids believe in the myth of Santa. I, however, simply refuse to breach the trust of my children over something as trivial as a fat man with a beard.
The Secular Santa Ruse Spoils the True Meaning of Christmas
I’m not here to say you can’t enjoy Santa as a character, but it is increasingly harder each year to look past the gross commercialization of the man with a bowl full of jelly to the greatest event ever recorded: the birth of Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, the over-glorification of Santa in Christmas movies, Christmas shopping, and Christmas activities has stolen the attention that Christ’s coming, the most incredible story, deserves. The consumerism of the holiday season has enabled our culture to embrace Father Christmas over God the Father. That choice not only damages our individual spirits, but it damages the spirit of Christmas.
The “thrill of hope” that graces our hearts this time of year shouldn’t come from opening presents from an elusive character whose occupation is navigating hearths. It should come from the joy God gifted us many years ago.
I don’t want my children to become so tangled in excitement about modern-day Santa if it means ignoring the true reason for seasonal celebration. I want my children to know Christmas is about unconditional love. We are all sinners who deserve not just to be on the naughty list, but to be burning in eternal damnation. Yet God, not some commercialized figure, gave us an opportunity for eternal life.
That kind of love encouraged the works of devout Christians like St. Nicholas, the inspiration for the white-bearded, cherub-cheeked character we know today, and it inspires people like me to give gifts to others. I want the love and gifts I give to my children to be unconditional, just like God’s love for me.
The same can’t be said about Santa’s naughty or nice list. Santa’s gift-giving is, in theory, conditional and a poor excuse for proper discipline. If kids are good, he promises them toys from their laundry lists of “I wants.” If a child behaves poorly, Santa’s rules say hellions get coal and nothing more.
I’m not anti-Santa. I’m just anti-pretending the version of him many of us know today is worth lying to my kids about.
In addition to all of the moral and religious problems with the Santa myth, it would take loads of effort to keep my kids from finding out the truth. I’m not sure I would have the energy it requires to keep up the charade and find gifts for dozens of friends and family.
That would require avoiding the plethora of mall Santas wandering around our town this time of year and steering clear of neighborhood children whose parents have already let them in on the big secret. Either that or risk digging our hole of deception even deeper.
Keeping up the ploy is simply not worth it. The effort I would spend trying to sell Santa to my kids is much better spent on teaching them about the true reason for the season.