Friday, November 26, 2010

The Santa Issue

Yes I know that it has been three and a half months since I made a blog post. I can go back and look, but I think that is probably the longest I have ever gone without an updated. Really since about the end of August, I kind of feel like I have been running a marathon at a sprinting pace. Hopefully with this post, I can get back on the wagon and not lapse for so long.

So Christmas is just under a month away. Technically this is Connor's second Christmas, but he was only three days old for the first one. This will be his first "real" Christmas. Abigail and I have talked a lot about what kind of Advent and Christmas traditions we want to establish and how we want to celebrate this time of the year. Abigail has had a lot of great ideas about how to do this.

One thing that we have talked a lot about is Santa Claus-specifically how we do NOT want to include Santa in our celebration of Christmas. I know this goes against the norm, but we do not want Connor to believe in Santa Claus. We are very resolved in this decision. However, there are some complications with implementing this, and we are hoping we could get some good ideas as to how to address these complications.

First it is worth stating why we have reached this decision. There are three major reasons why we do not want to teach Connor about Santa Claus.

#1 Santa Distracts from the true meaning of Christmas
The simple reality is that in America Christmas is more of a social consumer holiday than it is a religious celebration. It is also a simple reality that Santa Claus does a lot to create this reality. For parents, there is the joy of giving and seeing happiness in the children, For children, Santa Claus is all about receiving the material things they want. When one's focus is one receiving for themselves, it is impossible to focus on anything else-such as celebrating that extravagant love God that was displayed by the coming of Jesus as an infant.

#2 Santa creates God Confusion
I will state up front this is personally a big issue I have with teaching about Santa Claus, and I admit it is probably not that big of an issue to a lot of people. However, it really bothers me. Young Children think in concrete terms, so often they are taught about God in simple terms. Such as God can always see you and knows all about you. God wants you to be good to others, and if you need or want something you should pray and tell God about it. What do we teach kids about Santa? That Santa can always see you and knows all about you. Santa wants you to be good, and if you want something then tell Santa about it. In seminary and beyond, I have heard multiple stories about people, who has young children, who prayed to Santa Claus or whose image of God WAS Santa Clause. In addition to that, I have read multiple stories of atheists, who turned to atheism, when they realized Santa was lie. Because if Santa is not true, then how could God be true? Like I said, this really bothers me and I do not see it worth the risk.

#3 Why Lie to the kid?
Santa Claus is intention deception. For what purpose? I do not like the idea of intentionally telling a big lie to Connor for your years.

As I mentioned, we have talked a LOT about this, and we both believe these reasons are worth leaving Santa out of Christmas. However, we did discuss the counterpoint, that is why we should include Santa and we found those arguments lacking. From our discussions, we identified two main reasons as to why we might want to include Santa

#1 So Connor experiences the Christmas Magic
One of the reasons why one might want to teach about Santa, is so a child experiences the joy of receiving a gift from a magical source. One could argue that not teaching a child about Santa deprives them of the wonder of believing in something big and wonderful, such as a man with magical abilities who fulfills the gift wishes of children. However, I am not sure if this reason is good enough. Why teach Connor that he gets gifts from Santa because he has been good, when we can tie the giving of gifts to the real reason of Christmas. We celebrate Christmas because God gave us the greatest gift of all, and God gave us this gift out of love. To help celebrate Christmas we also give gifts to those that we love. When it comes to the issue of "Christmas magic" why teach him about magic to only later tell him it is a lie? I would rather teach him about the real miracles in the Bible, and let him find wonder in those stories.

#2 Everyone else believes in Santa
Just because everyone else does it, is not really a good reason. It certainly does not outweigh all the other reasons. However, this is where we need some help. We are unsure how to handle it in the future, when Connor is exposed to Santa which is going to happen. We are also uncertain about how to explain to other adults, are wishes to not have our children believe in Santa Claus without directing them to a lengthy blog post. One of the things we have talked about doing is teaching Connor about Santa, but not teaching him to believe in Santa. So Santa, is another story just like all of the other story books he already has. Given how all of the books about Santa are works of fiction anyway, it is not that much of a stretch. However, this gets us to the problem of what do we do when Connor interacts with other kids who do believe in Santa. All of these potential issues are years down the road, but we are not sure how to deal with them, and we would love any pointers or advice on this subject. Thanks!


Blogger Jill said...

I personally really like this idea of not having Santa as part of your child's upbringing, and you have mentioned a lot of well thought out reasons, etc. One thing I'd be worried about is that he would "ruin it" for other children! Something to think about I suppose. I really admire you all for taking this on. I want to hear updates as he gets older :)

7:11 PM  

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