My parents never did the whole Santa thing when I was a kid.
They said it was because Jesus was the true reason for Christmas and maybe something else about Santa being spelled Satan when you flipped the letters. (Yes, that’s sarcasm, on the off-chance that someone was planning on sending hate emails, although, if you were an 80’s kid like me, you’ve totally heard that.)
As I look back, I’m not entirely convinced that my mom was solely concerned with my spiritual welfare. I can’t be positive—because mom would never admit to it—but I think she couldn’t do the whole Santa story because she needed me to be the wrapper for Christmas. (Notice wr-wrapper, not “the rapper,” although I have been known to drop a sick beat.)
Truth is, the whole Santa story would have been blown to oblivion with me wrapping all the presents and then rapping’ sick beats about it.
Another reason it wouldn’t have worked is that our family celebrated on Christmas Eve. So, Santa was mid-flight while my four brothers and I were already knee-deep in shiny wrapping paper.
Alas, no Santa for us.
We were definitely non-traditionalists, but no one could accuse my parents of making Christmas boring. We had a ton of fun and I never felt like I missed out on anything. Because of this, I honestly always thought the whole concept of Santa was ridiculous… until I had kids.
Have you been good?
When my husband and I had our first son I went on auto-pilot and said “no Santa.” I didn’t even know why. I grew up in a Santaless home, so my kids would grow up in a Santaless home.
Period. End of story.
I didn’t think it through.
The older my boys became, Santa was everywhere. We’d be in a grocery store line checking out and the cashier would ask my son, “Are you being good so that Santa will bring everything you want?” My oldest son is rather quiet and would just stare blankly at the person.
My middle son, however, is far more chatty and would confidently proclaim, “Santa’s not real!” This would receive an awkward glance and a disapproving stare as the receipt was handed over.
I have been questioned more times than I can count for why I don’t do Santa with my kids.
“Where’s the magic and wonder?!” I would often be asked.
I started to feel pressured into putting on the facade every December along with the rest of the world so my kids would have this “magic and wonder” that they were so clearly missing.
Lying to my kids about a man who was watching their every move and sneaking into our home every 24th of December, just didn’t feel right. Not to mention, I didn’t want that to be the focus of Christmas.
Through all of this though, I still didn’t have a solid answer as to why the whole Santa idea left me so unsettled.
Naughty or nice?
I was out and about one busy December afternoon with my youngest son while my older two were in school.
The fateful question came tumbling out of a well-meaning stranger’s lips, “Are you being a good boy for mommy so that Santa will come and bring you lots of Christmas gifts?”
In an instant, my stomach dropped as I hated the question that was being asked.
And I finally knew why…
While driving home I peered in my rearview mirror and saw the blue eyes of my youngest looking back at me. Smiling at mama with a sticky purple sucker in his mouth and all over his face—I adored him.
“Emerson, do you have to be good all the time for mommy to love you?”
His pouty little lips pushed out his sucker as he thought this over.
“No, you always lub me.” He finally answered.
“That’s right, I do always love you!” “No matter what you were to ever do, mommy and daddy will always love you.” He beamed, satisfied he answered correctly.
“Do you know who else loves you no matter what?” I continued, glancing in my rear-view. “Jesus!” I exclaimed.
Do good, get good
We live in an unfortunate world that tells us if we “do good” we’ll get good, which, let’s be honest, isn’t always the case.
I had finally realized that far away day in December what had bothered me so badly about the premise of Santa Claus.
We spend the year teaching our children they’ve been saved by grace and Jesus loves them solely because they are a child of God. And yet, every December they receive the message that they must do good to “get” and if they don’t behave they’ll get a big ol’ fat lump of coal.
I feel as though I’d be telling them to perform if I taught them this.
Dance monkeys, dance.
I am horrified by the thought that my children would ever believe that their value, worth, or what they deserve is based on how they perform or behave.
My children are humans.
They mess up, fall down, lash out and misbehave. They’ve been known to lie, hit each other, steal each other’s toys and say hateful things.
They’ve also been known to hug each other, help each other out, say a kind word of encouragement and be honest when it was easier to lie.
Is there a cosmic scale somewhere balancing their good behaviors against their bad ones?
Thank God, no.
No one is counting their missteps and neither am I.
We are forgiven, no matter what
The more I have learned of Jesus, the more I have fallen in love with who He is. The more I have come to love why He loves us.
My Father in heaven is not bending low to count my mistakes, because His son already made Himself low to pay the cost for them all.My Father in heaven is not bending low to count my mistakes because His son already made Himself low to pay the cost for them all.Click To Tweet
He is not demanding goodness in exchange for anything — especially out of a person that is incapable of performing to His expectations.
It is not my performance He is looking at because He’s too busy staring at the face of His beloved Son, Jesus, and sees me in Him.
More than anything, I want my boys to know that Jesus died for them.
Jesus loves them and died for them when they didn’t deserve it.
Jesus fought for them BEFORE they ever even chose Him.
I want them to see that even on their worst days—particularly on their worst days—they’re still getting grace. Not a lump of coal.
We’re not overly concerned about Santa. We enjoy Christmas movies with Santa and send cute Santa wrapped gifts, but we have refused to teach our kids that Santa is real and this is all because of grace.
If we preach grace all year-long, we believe Christmas should be grace-filled as well.
I’m curious, how do you celebrate Christmas? What traditions do you have? If you have children, do you do Santa with them or not? I’d really love to know your thoughts! I believe there is no right or wrong, just good conversations.
Thank you, as always, for stopping by!