Hmmm…I don’t know about you but I Believe!
A friend and I have talked about Santa a lot lately. She is trying to figure out the best way to handle Santa as her kids grow up. She is not sure she wants to lie about it…and I totally get that to a point. This is tough for a lot of people and especially a lot of Christians. She recently sent me an article about a well-known pastor and how his family has approached it. They have chosen to tell their kids the facts of the “first Santa” and the real story and all the myths that have come along with him since then. They don’t give him credit for toys under the tree…but they also don’t tell their kids it is bad to believe in him or that they should have nothing to do with this iconic character. While I respect his point of not wanting to lie about it…I have to admit that I respectfully disagree.
There is a fine line between “lying” to hide something and “lying” for a surprise. Surprises can have an element of untruth to them (of course)- but for me the fun of the surprise (especially that of Santa) out-weighs the element of “lying” about it. For example…will I ever buy a gift for someone or plan a secret trip and ask my kids to “lie” about it to keep it a surprise…probably. Will I be lying? Technically yes. But will they care and say, “why did you lie to us?” Maybe/Maybe Not. If they do care we will have to explain that we wanted to surprise them & so we had to “lie” to them to keep the fun in the surprise.
These are always complex issues but our job as parents (in my opinion) is to teach them the that there is a difference between lying to hide something or get out of trouble and/or because it is hard to tell the truth and “lying” to keep a surprise. Will this whole Santa thing teach them to be liars…I doubt it and I hope not. Our training about lying and truth and all those kinds of things is happening all the time and will be an ongoing discussion with our kids until they are adults.
Now, to be fair I must admit that as a child I was very disappointed when I found out that Santa was not who I thought he was. I can speak from experience that I was really bummed when I learned the news (from a friend who’s parents didn’t believe in Santa) and I probably did ask my mom why she lied. But I deeply enjoyed the fun and enchantment of Santa so I told her I was going to believe anyway because I just loved it so much! To me it was magical…and it still is! My parents did not model dishonest behavior to us…they always told us the truth…and I never even saw them lie to each other as a kid. Perhaps this is why I was able to process the “lie” of Santa when I realized it had been fun for me to believe! My parent’s ongoing pattern of honesty has helped to shape me and make me a VERY honest person. But I also believe in Jesus and that He, of course, wants us to tell the truth. I just wonder if sometimes we “over spiritualize” things…I know we often “under spiritualize” things as well…but for Aaron and I we are all right with where we have landed on this issue!
There is so little magic left in life after the age of seven or eight, when you realize that fairy tales are not true and the tooth fairy is perhaps Mom and Santa’s reindeer may not have been those noises you were sure you heard on the roof when you were five. I just cannot imagine Paige and Grant missing out on those experiences of magic for the few precious years they have to receive it!
So those are my thoughts. I’ve been hoping to write about it on this blog but have been hesitant to offend anyone. Many of my close friends do not teach their kids to believe in Santa…and this used to make me sad but now I realize that it’s just a personal issue for each family. I will respect whatever anyone decides to do…it’s not easy…but I’m sure everyone eventually lands somewhere with it that feels good. Let me just say that it is getting more and more fun each year that Paige gets older and is finally starting to “get it.” We have also had fun explaining to her that Santa comes to help us celebrate Jesus birthday! It must be working because she narrated that to me as we were writing her letter to Santa the other night. I started by saying as I wrote: “Dear Santa, Thank you for…” and she interjected with “for helping us celebrate Baby Jesus Birthday!” We’ll teach her the story of the first Santa someday…for now we love the magic!
Here is to Believing!!!
P.S. Here’s an article I love from Dr.Sears… it is a response to this: “…we think it’s wrong to lie to him [their young son] about Santa (i.e. building up an idea that there is magic in the world and then letting him fall to earth later!). On the other hand it seems like a bit of a shame for him to ‘miss out’…”
What?! Santa’s not real? But, I just talked to him today, at the mall!
Yes, you have a point… we are lying to our children. But I personally don’t think it does any harm. While I have talked to many young adults that resent their parents for many things, being tricked about Santa has not been one of them. In my experience with my own kids, as well as many of my friends, the whole Santa thing has gone like this: between age two and seven-ish, it is a fun game, with letters to Santa, half-eaten cookies on a plate Christmas morning, etc. Then the child finally gets in on the secret, probably thanks to one of his friends. At this point, letters to Santa (and the tooth-fairy for that matter) are addressed to “Dad”, and the older child has fun playing Santa games on the younger siblings.
I think most of us have a lot of great “Santa memories”. I vividly remember trying to explain to my 5 year-old why she saw Santa Claus walking down the street! I do get a little bit sad when I think about my little girl growing up and losing that Christmas magic. It seems like a metaphor for life… it isn’t always going to be a bowl of cherries. I guess I wish we could all keep believing in Santa. For now, I need to help my younger one mail a letter to the North Pole, and also teach him the real meaning behind Christmas.