Tuesday, December 13, 2011

in defense of santa

I have to write this down. I'm delighted that you're reading it too, but I'm writing it down for me. Because every year I have to go through this, and re-decide what it is I believe about Christmas. I think I usually come around to the same thing, so I thought I'd save myself the trouble and write it all down this year. Then I can skip the tears and stress next year and get right to the celebrating.
I hate to admit that, if I'm honest, holidays equal stress for me. There has rarely, if ever, been a Christmas season that did not land me in tears at some point. I love, love Dani's post about Christmas time in a divorced family. It's spot on.
And then there are posts that land me in tears. It happens every. single. year. Like this one. When I read it, I absolutely agreed with what she had to say. Ugh, the consumerism, the out of control Santa-fest, the fact that Christmas should be about Jesus. I get it. I agree with it. One particularly poignant line asked how, in the minds of our children, could Jesus compete with Santa? I so agree. I felt so guilty over how much we spend on Christmas while so many in the world are suffering that I cried when I put up the Christmas tree. And then I cried while walking through the aisles of Target. It was awful. I swore off Santa.
And then I came back around to him. Because whenever I think of the holidays, and how I'll stress over the coming one, I think back to the time when I was little, watching the news on Christmas Eve and hearing the weather man say he'd spotted Santa's sleigh on the horizon. I remember lying awake in bed and thinking every creak of the house was a reindeer hoof. I remember opening gifts with my cousins, playing board games with my siblings, and wondering just how it was that Santa always knew exactly what I wanted. It was magical.
And while I hear people rant about how wrong it is to lie to your kids, I honestly don't have a problem with it. To me, it wasn't lying. It was this huge magical story that everyone was in on. Kinda like Harry Potter. (wink) Some people say that when they discovered Santa wasn't real, they thought that God wasn't real. I say that believing in Santa helped me believe in God, in miracles, in magic. I love that feeling that there's more to life than what's right in front of us, than what we can see. And as adults, we don't get that feeling often enough. So don't take it away from me at Christmas.
So my plan is to talk to Cate about Jesus every chance I get. Not just at Christmas, but always. She'll learn about Santa on her own. There are movies and songs, and trips on the Polar Express with my aunt. This year, when she wakes up on Christmas morning, there will be 2 gifts for her. It really doesn't matter to me if she thinks they're from us or from Santa. Then she'll be bombarded with gifts from other family members. And we're all going to love it.
I hope she'll learn that Christmas is about magic. It's about Jesus and family. It's about giving gifts. It's about togetherness and laughter. And if that magic includes Santa, well, I'm okay with that.
It's not very neat. It's not "We go all out at Christmas" and it's not "We don't do Santa." It's somewhere in between, so it's bound to get messy. (I never have been good at drawing a line in the sand.) I'd love to hear everyone's ideas and traditions. My ideas so far are: bake a birthday cake for Jesus, adopt an angel tree kid, buy a goat (0r some other animal) for a Worldvision family. What do you do with your family to keep them focused on Jesus and giving?


Morgan said...

I understand the dilemma--been there! I grew up with the "magic of Santa" too, and LOVED it. But for me, it DID replace the Truth of the season for most of my childhood. So I've gone back and forth. We've never outright "done" Santa with the boys--we talk about him, and read stories about him, we've learned about the history of Santa and the amazing legacy of the real St. Nicholas. We approach him as a "fun story that a lot of people like to *wink wink* believe in," but that's it.

However, a year or two ago, Aidan (our creative, highly imaginative child) independently decided that Santa WAS real. He just wants to believe in the magic and fun of it all for awhile. So we've let him leave out cookies and milk and have done some other fun Santa things, but all the while with the reminder that it's all just for fun. They know who St. Nicholas really was, and where Santa came from. It's all a fun, long, drawn-out game of make-believe that all of us are in on. (Our 4 year old--our practical child--is the first to remind all of us that "it's not REALLY real, but it's fun to pretend.")

I recently read this article by Mark Driscoll and loved what he had to say on the subject. I'd say that his approach is close to ours:


Morgan said...
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