I just finished my first conversation of the season where a parent gave me flak for “ruining” to my child that Santa isn’t real.
To clarify what “ruining” means: she (Elisabeth, 4) asked me last year “Daddy, is Santa bringing us presents?” and I didn’t want to be dishonest with her so I replied, “No, he doesn’t bring us presents.” because, no, Santa doesn’t bring us presents (this, of course, led to an entire conversation regarding Santa being pretend)… Believers would argue that we aren’t getting presents from Santa because we don’t believe, but that’s an entirely different discussion they can have with their therapist.
My recent conversation, however, made me think though: Can’t kids enjoy the concept of Santa without having to believe that he’s real? My kids love it when our local fire department drive a guy dressed up as Santa around our neighborhood, or whenever they see someone dressed up as Santa at local events… but they still understand (Elisabeth, at least) that he’s just pretend.
Is that a bad thing?
It’s funny too because I truly couldn’t care less if you desire for your kids to believe in Santa. Within Christendom, I see it, at it’s purest, as a Romans 14 type of issue. You can read Romans 14 for yourself but to paraphrase it, it’s basically saying that there is freedom in Christ and not to judge each other over small issues. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely see a lot of idolatry regarding Santa and the pedestal he’s lifted on in many Christian households… but I don’t believe the concept of Santa is inherently evil.
A trouble issue I do see though is that there seems to be a lot of parents who care deeply if other people’s kids don’t believe nor go along with the “Santa is real” bit too. Christy and I both have been berated (yes, berated) for “not allowing” our kids to believe in Santa. It’s comical seeing how infuriated some parents (many are Christian too!) get at the thought that they’ll be exposed as liars to their kids if/when their kids find out the truth about Santa. Not comical as in it’s funny and I enjoy it but, rather, comical as in it’s surreal and unbelievable. If I couldn’t laugh about it, the only other natural reaction I have towards it is to cry!
Here’s a fun game every Christian parent should play with their kids: Ask your children, “Who am I describing” and then describe to them the characteristics of the Holy Spirit. Regardless of their replies, I’m imagining that it will be a good exposé of the state of Christian education in your household.
Slightly related question: when parents take their kids to theme parks like Disney World, do they go out of their way to convince their children that these are the actual princesses from the movies walking around the park? Will I have to watch what I say when we go to Disney in 2015?!