We’re a “Santa” family. I understand the reasons behind some families choice to keep Santa out of their Christmas celebrations, but for us, it’s important to include him.
There is beauty in the “magic” of Santa. In the innocence heart of a child that can believe a man can make it around the world in just one night, solely to bless the lives of children everywhere. The story is appreciated and loved because of its wonder, sans the syndical and bitter questioning that sneaks its way into our hearts with age.
We use the Santa story to teach our children about the unconditional love that can be found in a gift that is given out of love, not earned like a sticker on a responsibility chart. Once a year, for just a few years, they will wake with the type of anticipation that only lives within a child. They’ll know that awaiting them under the Christmas tree decorated with holy cards will be presents, right next to the manger that’s present all through Advent. The gifts won’t be there because they have earned them or they deserve them, just because they are loved – similar to the baby Jesus who will be placed in the manger that sits under that Christmas tree through Advent.
Accepting unconditional love and unearned reward may be difficult later in their lives depending on their temperament. The “Santa years” are great practice for them to accept that they are loved just because. They are loved by us, by each other and ultimately, by Christ. They did nothing to earn this love, can do nothing to lose the love and need only accept it – like a gift on Christmas morning.
There is no “naughty” or “nice” list and Santa works in his worship year-round making toys for boys and girls because St. Nicholas inspired him to be loving and kind to children out of the goodness of his heart.
There is no danger of our children learning one day about Santa and drawing a parallel to Christ thus dismissing the resurrection as a fable, myth or moral story. We talk about Santa from December 7th to December 25th every year. We talk about the baby Jesus everyday.
My biggest concern that comes along with being a “Santa family” is not a spiritual one. We’ve got three daughters in this home. Teaching them to sit on an old man’s lap, tell him their secret desires and then take candy from him does really coincide with what we generally teach our daughters about strange, odd looking older men! Then, on Christmas Eve, we’ll celebrate Jesus’ birthday and while we are sleeping he’ll sneak into our home and we’ll leave him a snack? It is rather amusing when you think about the details.
Seems my girls feel the same way, judging from the Santa pictures we’ve taken the past few years.
A blessed feast of St. Nicholas! May his goodness and generosity inspire our Advent and Christmas season in whatever way is best for our families.