What I am about to say is not going to be popular – I write this understanding there are readers that won’t accept this thought, and that’s ok. To you…I love you, I don’t write this criticizing your parenting and I hope I am able to communicate thoroughly that this is my own personal story, my family’s decision, and I am totally comfortable agreeing to disagree on this subject. We’re all different. I respect that, and my point for all of this is an offering of another view, not to change your mind, but more so to buffer the appalled looks we get when I explain to others that Santa is not part of our Christmas tradition… I’ll wait a moment for you to pick up your jaw from the ground, and for your heart to jump back from the pit of your stomach. It’s a lot to take in a world where Santa’s face is plastered all over advertisements, on Christmas TV shows, and families are lining up for their turn to sit on his lap to snap that annual iconic Christmas photo.
Our reasoning for not teaching our children this tradition goes back to my childhood. My parents are awesome. They taught me about Santa. This isn’t about them, or me being upset that they chose to follow culture’s tradition – everyone else does it, so why not?
Sometimes we go along with things because that’s what’s always been done…
I have many magical memories from my childhood Santa visits. Like – In first grade, when, certain that Santa was the one rustling around papers in our living room, I climbed down from our bunk bed woke my brother thinking, “This is it! He’s really here!!!”. Or the Christmas Eve when my family spent time at my Aunt and Uncles apartment, looking out their window, I saw a red flashing light in the sky and ran to my parents to say – “I see Rudolph.” And I certainly I remember the giant Barbie house he brought to me that year, the one that stood as tall as me, with an elevator – they hadn’t had those before!
I remember these times perfectly – they were magical…but I also remember the day I found out it was all made up, I was in fourth grade (I know – that’s awful isn’t it???) it was just after Christmas – I had left Santa a letter with his cookies, and he actually wrote me back… That letter was hanging on the wall of my room. My brother’s friend was over that day. He walked through my room. That letter caught his eye, and as it did, he pulled it down and began laughing hysterically, asking, “you don’t really believe in Santa do you?” “Of course not!” I replied grabbing that letter stuffing it in a drawer and holding back tears until he was gone.
That was the end of Santa Claus for me. I’m pretty sure I had an intervention with my parents that night – my heart was crushed. I was angry, sad, and felt like a fool. All my life – I believed a lie…and suddenly Christmas wasn’t magical anymore – at all.
It’s taken me years to find that “magic” again.
My parents taught me the story of Jesus’ birth – but somehow – in comparison to the story of Santa – I struggled. Santa just seemed more to celebrate – I mean… magic reindeer, and a man that would bring me what I wanted…
It took me a long while to get over the missing magic of the idea Santa used to offer and it took a lot of digging to find the true and powerful redemption brought to us through the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s embarrassing to admit, but it’s truth.
You see, St. Nicholas was a great man. He was a strong Christian that put into practice what the Word of God has spoken, but our culture has stripped away the man he was and replaced him, a man that met needs with a magical man that flies around on reindeer bringing wants to all the girls and boys and wrapping them all up in glitter-ful presents.
I love presents, I give presents. We are commanded to give, but there can be this draw to give without thought, give without feeling, give just to give, and it strips us of what this beautiful season is all about.
As you can probably tell, realizing Santa is a lie was traumatic for me, and after all of those years, here’s what I’ve come to understand. The idea of Santa is feel good, magic that brings a smile to your face, he brings you what you want. We like that – who doesn’t?
The reality of Jesus can feel like a lot to take – and much different. The truth of him, is that He came to us as a baby born to die – a beautiful reality that doesn’t always feel good, and can take studying and acceptance to take hold of. Truth? Comparing the two… Santa’s a whole lot easier to accept then the reality of a Savior that came to us as a living sacrifice paving a road to our redemption. A redemption that requires of us our own sacrifice, causing us to consider, will we allow him to work in our lives or will we keep buying into the glitterful lies of the world we live?
The gospel is enough. We don’t have to dress it up in a red suite and surround it with eight tiny flying reindeer. The gospel is so much more than that. It is the greatest love story of all time filled with action, adventure, twists turns – a truth that you can study time and time again, and still walk away awe-filled…and you don’t have to look someone in the eye someday and tell them “we made it up” and watch as their heart crushes in a 1000 pieces…No, you can tell this story and watch the gates of salvation swing open wide – and help to usher joy into a soul that will forever live in eternity.
And that my dear reader…That’s why Santa doesn’t visit our home.