Every Christian who becomes a parent will eventually face the dilemma of how to celebrate Christmas. Though obviously, as Christians, you want to share the story of Christ’s birth with your children, you may be undecided as to whether to simply set up a nativity scene or let your children become fully immersed in all the other holiday traditions that involve Santa.
Will telling your children that Santa brings presents on Christmas Eve cause them to look to Santa as the gift-giver, rather than Jesus? Will allowing them to participate in fantasy at Christmas time, hinder their ability to see what is true? Or, will they simply enjoy the magical thoughts that fill their imaginations while they’re young with no ill effects on their faith in the future? These are all questions that Christians ponder, so the St. Louis Special Occasions Examiner asked other St. Louis Christians how they celebrate, in hopes that it will help you find the right balance for your own family.
Some comments may be edited to accommodate article length, but main points are noted:
Melissa M. of St. Louis – Santa visits our home and leaves 3 gifts for each child (because there were 3 gifts for baby Jesus). Those gifts are wrapped in different paper than the other gifts. We (the parents) are the ones that give that special gift that the child has been really wanting and the children get gifts from others as well. Our Christmas season is centered on Advent and church activities. Of course the kids are excited to “get” things, but I try to also get them excited about “giving.” Many of our conversations are about “what can we do for so-and-so?” We talk a LOT about why we have this holiday, and very little about Santa. He comes Christmas Eve, but there isn’t much discussion about it beforehand.
Denise B. of Fenton – I’m Christian with an agnostic bent, but my husband was raised Catholic. We’re not church goers, so my kids get the Santa angle. When Jesus comes up, I like to tell my kids that Jesus was a real historical person, a great leader and teacher, and how people believe that He was the son of God. So I tell my oldest that we should respect that belief even if you find it implausable–and that either way Jesus was a great man and we have Christmas to celebrate His birthday.
Lynn M. of St. Louis – We are Christians but we also let our kids enjoy all the excitement of Santa. We visit Santa at the mall and then count down the days til Santa comes to our house. We have a calendar that has a picture of Santa on the Christmas Eve spot, but on Christmas day there is a star, so we talk about Jesus’ birthday and tell of how the shepherds followed the star to find baby Jesus. Then, on Christmas, we sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. We also do Operation Christmas Child or Toys for Tots, so that our kids aren’t the only ones receiving presents. And when we say our prayers on Christmas night, we thank God for sending Jesus, so that we can have a place in Heaven someday. We seem to balance it all and our kids know that even though Jesus shares his birthday with us by Santa bringing gifts, the day would not happen at all if it weren’t for Jesus.
Sherrie G. of St. Charles – There are other Christians that do not celebrate Christmas at all, my family is among them. We teach our children about His birth and His life and death, but due to the origins we do not celebrate Christmas. So, Santa has never been issue for us.
Sherrie cites an article that supports the belief that Jesus’ birth did not take place in December.
Kay P., formerly of St. Louis – Our kids are young adults now, but when they were young, we told them Jesus wanted to share his birthday with us, but because He’s in Heaven, he sent Santa to deliver presents to us. It was our way of letting them know that Jesus is the reason for the season, but it was okay to have a little fun, anticipating Santa’s visit. In the same way, we could be used of God to deliver blessings to others.
Meg W. of O’Fallon – I know some people worry that if their kids stop believing in Santa, they will think Jesus was just a story too. I never worried about that. I wanted my kids to have all the fun of Santa, but I believed that since Jesus is real, and the Holy Spirit is a real presence that moves within us, my kids’ relationship with God would be okay. They, just like I did, would be able to know the difference between what is real and what was just for fun because God is powerful enough to make himself known to them in a real way.
Rachel N. of St. Ann – My kids believe in Santa and we have a lot of fun with it. I have a lot of happy memories of Christmas and imagining the reindeer flying the sleigh to my house. I think their childhoods will go by so fast and I want them to have fun while they’re little. So, we leave cookies for Santa and tell them he won’t come until they’re asleep. But we go to church services and sing songs like Away in A Manger and Joy to the World, so they also learn about Baby Jesus.
Mindy R. of Chesterfield – My kids know all about Jesus, but I still can’t really decide what to do about Santa, so I just let my kids tell me if they think he’s real.
Samantha P. of Hazelwood – My kids see Santa on tv or hear about him from other kids, but in our house, Christmas is entirely focused on Jesus. I didn’t want my kids to be confused or wonder if I lied to them about Jesus too, so I didn’t want to risk it. But I also tell them it’s okay for other people to have fun with the whole Santa thing, so they don’t ruin it for anybody else.
Kathy C. of St. Louis – My kids know Santa is just pretend. I want God to be their only focus at Christmas and always.
While there are many variations of traditions on Christmas, every parent must determine what is most important to them and how their teachings will affect their children. If you have another tradition that wasn’t mentioned here, feel free to leave your respectful comments below.