Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ho Ho Ho! or Bah! Humbug!

Okay, here is a touchy subject. **Warning**If you have children around you may want to read this later. It contains some spoilers! What do you tell your kids about Santa? How old do you believe kids should be before you start changing the story?

From early on as a mommy, I had trouble with Santa. I felt very uncomfortable with the whole idea of Santa. I didn't know how to broach the subject with my daughters about Santa. I didn't know how to respond to their questions. I even agonized over the whole 'wrapping paper recognition' thing.

Why so much anxiety over something people have done for AGES? First of all, I am a B rated liar. You remember the B rated horror movies, like 'The Gourmet Zombie Chef From Hell"? The effects were so unrealistic, they were comical. The story was so pitiful, it was amusing. That is the kind of liar I am. Infants can see through my facade. When my dear hubby is telling the girls a tall tale, they come and check with me, because I am on 'the trust list' (aka. can't lie list).

Then God blesses me with a natural defense attorney as a first-born. Here is a play by play from one of our discussions.

"Mommy, can I have some candy?"

"No. It's almost supper time."

I catch her with a piece of gum.

"Didn't I tell you you couldn't have any candy?"

"No. I asked if I could have any candy. You said no. You didn't actually say, Alea, you can't have any candy....and ACTUALLY, this is gum."

She was doing this at the age of five!!!!

So......you see my predicament. She will see through my lies for sure! I am so going to get busted, and not be able to lie my way out of it. Anyways, I am really struggling with the whole idea of encouraging my girls to be truthful, and to assure them that there is nothing they ever need to keep from us.....yet they learn best by the example we set, and we felt we were setting an example of lies. True, it was a harmless lie. Even a fun lie. But...it was a lie.

Then came the final straw. Alea told us that she prayed to Santa about what she wanted for Christmas. SHE WAS PRAYING TO SANTA!! Now, not only am I worried about being caught in a lie, or encouraging lies, our children are confusing God with Santa!!! It is time to nip it in the bud.

So we make the decision to tell them about Santa. We talk about legends and myths. We tell them that some people choose to play that legends are real because it is fun. We tell them that some people choose to use their imaginations and creativity to make Santa seem alive, and that is fine. But we have chosen not to.

We told them that we had made a vow of honesty to them, and that we had broken it. We were well meaning, but we had broken our vow, and we told them we were sorry. We told them that we never wanted them to doubt the truth in our words ever again. We also told them that we never wanted them to doubt the truth of Jesus Christ, or lose focus of him as the reason for Christmas.

We told them that other parents had fun playing the part, and to please not spoil their fun. We instructed them to never be rude when people asked them well-intended questions about Santa, such as "what did Santa bring you for Christmas?", but to politely answer them as if they believed.

It was not a popular decision with many family and friends. We were told that we were ruining the 'spirit of Christmas', and taking away our girls childhood. People even accused us of taking away our children's gifts. They still get gifts. No more - no less. They just know where they came from. And they know that when we celebrate Christmas, we are celebrating the birth of the coolest baby to ever have lived.

The following letter was given to us by some dear Christian friends of ours. We used it. It raised an interesting point, and my girls understood it. Of course, Alea argued at first... but that's another story.

Dear *******,

In first grade you’ve learned some interesting things about Santa Claus. You’ve learned that he has different names in different countries, and that he does different things in each. This variety of Santas has confused you, so I think it’s time to tell you the truth about who Santa Claus really is.

You see, Santa is real. It’s just that you don’t know him by his real name-mom and dad. Yes, it’s your father and mother who shower you with presents each year at Christmas time.

Why? Because we are joyfully celebrating Christ’s birthday the same way the three Wise Men did. Just as they brought gifts to the newborn Jesus, we give gifts to a child that we’re happy has been born, and that we love very much.

Why do we say someone else does it? I’m not sure. Maybe because we want to share with you the feeling of being loved by someone you haven’t actually seen. Like being loved by God. We don’t see God, but we do see what God does for us out of love. God gives us many gifts: our families, our homes, and our entire world.

We want to share the feeling of being loved no matter who you are or what you do, as God loves you. I know we sometimes say, “Be good if you want Santa to come,” when we want you to behave. But as you’ve already figured out, Santa-or rather, we-come anyway. And God does, too. God may not like what we do sometimes, but God always loves us.

I think it’s important that you know Santa is real, and that mom and dad are Santa. Because I don’t want you to be told Santa isn’t real, and have your wonder about if God is real.

Dad and mom become Santa every Christmas for a good reason. Because we want to share the love that God gave us when God shared the greatest gift of all-his son, Jesus

We love you,

Mom & Dad


Wendy M. said...

I respect you totally for choosing to tell the girls about Santa, but I gotta' tell you - we are a Santa family all the way! :) I just so loved the thrill of Santa growing up, that I couldn't not share that same fun with my girls. That's what it is to me - a great fun childhood fantasy that they'll someday treasure like I do mine! I just can't imagine that they won't see the joy and fun in what we're doing - I never resented my parents for it or even thought if it as them having lied to me! They just loved me and wanted to share that joy with me.

To us it's just the same as reading a book of fiction or watching a great movie about something impossible or even allowing them to pretend that they're something that they're not and never can be! :) I guess that's it - it's just a great big, fun game of pretend that we get to participate in with them.

The cool part is that if you ask them the real reason for Christmas, they will both tell you immediately that it's Jesus' birthday, so I know they "get it".

I love the letter by the way and when the time comes to share the reality of Santa with my girls, that will be a very cool way to explain it to them I think! :)

We love you guys and we hope that your Christmas is AMAZING - Santa or not! :)

Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

We're Santa folks too. I even get right Catholic about it and celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas with the kids on Dec. 6. We read stories about the real St. Nicholas and talk about who he was and how he loved giving to children.

I have a pretty sneaky feeling tha cleo's got it all figured out, but is just playing along for the sake of her brother and sister. It is okay with me either way.

I still sort of believe in Santa. I keep wishing I'll wake up Christmas morning to something unexpected! :)

But in the end, the real focus here is on JESUS and nothing else. All my kids will tell you what Christmas is really about. It has been on our part to teach balance and tip the scales heavily to the religious side of the Holy Day without having to relinquish the more secular side either.

It's what works for us, but I highly respect you for your position on the matter. I really do. It is an individual thing.

Anne-Marie said...

I laughed during your rendition of the lying, the praying to Santa and the struggles you're going through.

Thanks for being so honest about your dilemma and injecting some humor into the situation!

Rev Colin said...

I find that people often cite two ways that people can spoil the 'true' spirit of Christmas. The first is to break the news to children that Santa Claus is not real and the second is to try to get people to realise that Christ is 'the reason for the season'.

As a Pastor, one of the things that always amuses me is the way that I always (well, almost always) get the religious cards that often appear as a token in a box of mixed cards. Now, there's something to think about!

Dana M said...

Okay..This is one I simply have to weigh in on! Everyone who gets to know my family, soon learns that when it comes to "holidays" or "fantasy" beings that mysteriously bring things for no reason...we opt O_U_T!! I understand that this is an individual family conviction based on your individual family commitment and growth in the Lord. However, it is our opinion (yeah, here it comes..) that there is nothing to be gained from telling your children that there is a "fantasy" or "made-up" person who suspiciously arrives once a year to mysteriously break-in to your home and leave unsaid packages for you to open upon your bright-eyed arrival to the tree of lights. We can find absolutely nothing about JESUS in any of this tradition. The implications this leave on our children is beyond a simple "white" lie. Hebrews 11:6 says that "Without faith, it is impossible to please him (God); for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." So, where is there room to even haphazzardly suggest that anyone other than God can bring anything we need? Or teaching our children that faith is not well spent on Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc. I think it goes completely beyond the simplistic view of how "fun" it is to be excited...excited that we are teaching a most treasured gift to idolize something as the perfect giver other than our Father in Heaven...Not for us.
All that being said...I absolutely 100% commend you & your hubby for choosing to be honest with your children and lead by example how to put trust and above that FAITH in the only ONE who could have ever traveled the earth in a solitary night...and with that...we are FREE!!

Wendy M. said...

I still say it's okay to have some fun and fantasy with your little ones - I don't see a think wrong with them enjoyin the thrill of Santa once a year - I still enjoy the thrill myself. It doesn't mean that they don't know that God is our provider...it just means that He sends it in a bit of a fun way at our house on Christmas! Relax! It's really okay for us all to do it differntly - our kids all seem to be doing great!:)

Starr said...

I have just now read these posts and am really feeling terribly blessed that we can all attend the same church, love each other so much and accept each other no matter what, as long as we all put Jesus first, that is! And I know we all do, so I love you gals and am glad to know ya! By the way, we are Santa people too, but if asked by Austin (of course Chase figured it out a long time ago! LOl!) I would tell him the truth! Thanks for the letter, Natalie. I'll use it when the time comes. I'll let him believe in the magic of Santa while he wishes to. As long as He know the reason we celebrate Christmas. Each family certainly has to do it however they feel led.