Dealing with Santa

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Theoretical

Puritan Board Professor
Well-stated, Andrew. You stated some of my greatest concerns with teaching and encouraging children about Santa, given this works-righteousness issue.
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
Santa's works-based righteousness is insidious. And I actually don't mean this sarcastically. If only good little boys and girls get presents from Santa and somehow every little boy and girl who has parents with at least a little money gets presents, that means we are teaching children that they are "good" even while they sin. How then can we be surprised when they grow up and as adults believe this exact same thing? "Well yeah I've made mistakes but that doesn't make me a bad person! God should still give me ___________ ."
:ditto: Santa also promotes greed like you wouldn't believe, not only in the kids (I can ask for everything, after all, Santa just makes it) but also in the parents (i have to buy ___ for my kids or they will be disappointed in Santa).
There is a lady at my church who has been posting on FB how she has been going around to every store in town, waiting in lines, and running through aisles trying to find some ridiculous toy because "it will make her son soooo happy".
 

kvanlaan

Puritan Board Doctor
We did our Sinterklaas celebration yesterday. This year we did not read the story, but usually we do (leaving out the part about Swart Piet, a Moor who takes bad children off to Spain). As others have mentioned, the story is of the 'real' Saint Nick. Then we open presents, eat oliebollen (not this year - no time, and smell of cooking oil throughout the house would proabably have pregnant and smell-sensitive wifey running to the bathroom) and basically sit around the wood stove chatting. Very pleasant, and leaves the 25th as a purely religious holiday, no gifts, just church.
 

CatherineL

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for the tips - Kevin, any links about Sinterklass? Also if anyone has found especially good St. Nicholas books I would appreciate a recommendation.

Just to clarify, I wasn't intending to start a debate on whether one should or not participate in the Santa thing. Its been decided for us, like some of you, long before we had kids. Now its just working it out in practice (always easier in theory than in practice!)

We have relatives who are very into Santa that are coming to celebrate Christmas. They know where we are, and they (being RC) are cool with it in theory, but still throw in a lot of Santa speak around my kids, so in a sense they know what they're missing. Its not like I can just pretend this aspect of the holiday doesn't exist. Dh and I are wondering whether to do "stockings" with little presents (just making clear that the presents are from mom and dad, just remembering what St. Nick did in his efforts to serve God) or just skip it altogether, even around others doing it.

I'd really appreciate insight from those who have found good solutions for situations like this. Thanks!
 

Montanablue

Puritan Board Doctor
We have relatives who are very into Santa that are coming to celebrate Christmas. They know where we are, and they (being RC) are cool with it in theory, but still throw in a lot of Santa speak around my kids, so in a sense they know what they're missing. Its not like I can just pretend this aspect of the holiday doesn't exist. Dh and I are wondering whether to do "stockings" with little presents (just making clear that the presents are from mom and dad, just remembering what St. Nick did in his efforts to serve God) or just skip it altogether, even around others doing it.
We had stockings as children, and my parents did just that - they had little presents in them, but the gifts were from Mom and Dad. I still get a stocking and I'm 24!
 

Mushroom

Puritan Board Doctor
We told them some families like to pretend Santa is real, and many kids even believe it, but he's actually make believe. Our first priority was not to lie to them. What would they think about the Bible stories we tell if they found we lied about Santa?

We also tried to avoid being disparaging of people who do pretend Santa is real. We told our kids it isn't nice to ruin those people's fun.

Finally, we told them the true story of St. Nicholas. But this led to my daughter, when she was about three, explaining to a friend that Santa was dead. Not a popular move.
:ditto: That's pretty much how we handled it.

Of course, one time my son told a store cashier that the mythological version of Santa was "a lie from the pit of hell". He shares that bent for diplomacy with his Dad.
 

newcreature

Puritan Board Freshman
Do you tell them not to tell other children? So far we've just told our almost 5 year old just not to bring it up, that some parents play the "Santa game" and some kids think that Santa is really real, but that we don't play that game because it distracts us from Jesus.

We've talked a little about the St. Nicholas legend (former RC here, we always put our shoes outside our classrooms around this time in Dec to get a candy cane stuck in them on St. Nick's feast day in Catholic school).

I guess I'm looking for specific practicalities - like what do you teach your child to say to the well meaning people at the store who say to your kids "are you excited about Santa?" That sort of thing. I don't want her to come off as some little holier-than-thou, especially to a non-believer.
No, I don't think you should encourage them to hold their beliefs secretly. This may be their first experience of "evangelism". Whatever we, as Christians, teach our children, we should teach them to share it boldly with their friends and anyone who asks.

My mom always told us when we were little that St. Nick was a real person who used to give money and toys to children, that he has been dead for a long time, and that now many people salute his legacy by dressing up or giving gifts at Christmas. She followed up by saying that we celebrate Christmas as observation of the birth of Jesus, and that we give gifts because we love each other and are financially able observe the tradition of doing so. We were told that the only Santa in our home was Mommy and Daddy, and that Jesus gave us the gift of life even though mom and dad gave toys.

I was never confused. I never believed in Santa. And to other children I shared my beliefs with, most of them didn't believe me anyway. With my children, it has been more of a challenge. They believe Santa is real no matter what I tell them. And yes, sometimes there are gifts under the tree from Santa. Maybe that's wrong?
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Dealing with Santa is easy: cancel Christmas - in the church and in the home. At that point there will be no room for syncretism from this issue because Santa Claus will cease to exist.
 

MMasztal

Puritan Board Sophomore
Dealing with Santa is easy: cancel Christmas - in the church and in the home. At that point there will be no room for syncretism from this issue because Santa Claus will cease to exist.
I tend to agree. My previous OPC churches had no special service for Christmas or Easter. My current church goes the whole 9 yards. :(. I can go along with the tradition of celebrating the birth of our Savior, but not to the point of making it a religious holiday.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
With my children, it has been more of a challenge. They believe Santa is real no matter what I tell them. And yes, sometimes there are gifts under the tree from Santa. Maybe that's wrong?
I can see where it might be hard to believe that someone who is giving you presents doesn't exist.
 

Montanablue

Puritan Board Doctor
I'm perplexed by your attitude about this matter Montanablue.
I believe very strongly that parents should be able to raise their children in the manner which they see fit - even if I disagree with it. So, I do not think that parents should actively encourage their children to go around contradicting other families' tradition. First, its an insult to the authority of the parents of the other family. Second, it cultivates a spirit of self-righteousness and "my family is better" in the child.

Note: I'm not saying that anyone here does this! But I have seen many strutting six year olds preaching to both children and adults about how they should change their family's traditions, and I think its both ridiculous and rude. Just my 2 cents.
 

Paul Trask

Puritan Board Freshman
With our children we taught them about the real Santa Claus from Germany who was rich and gave gifts to the poor. We home school so they had some pressure to believe and the commercial Santa but we discourage it by telling them he is not real. Christmas is like a Hobbits birthday you buy gifts for everyone else.
 

Honor

de-cool
this is what we do and it's a bit different but.....
First we don't emphisies Santa at all... we do read the Night Before Christmas but only before we read them the Story in Luke. They know full well that Christmas is "Jesus' birthday" and that Santa was a real guy and he really did give gifts to children (we don't mention that he's dead now) and that the reason WE give gifts is because we want to be like Jesus who is part of the Trinity and God Gave us the BEST GIFT EVER... His Son. we also have an orniment on our tree that is of Santa kneeling before the baby Jesus in the manger. We show that to the boys and talk about how only Jesus was perfect and even Santa sinned and needed a Saviour. But we haven't told them that he (santa) isn;t real. We believe that they are kids and that being a kid is supposed to be fun and full of make believe and whimsy. I know a lot of people might disagree but this is how we do it. that way the kids still can tell dear old grandma what santa got them for Christmas and they can leave cookies and milk out and all that... it's fun.
However we have flat out told them that the Easter Bunny isn't real and we don't "do" the EB thing. we told them that people who don't celebrate Jesus' Resurrection wanted to celebrate something too so they made up the EB we don't. they still get a Easter basket and one gift(the candy signifing the sweetness of the event that He Rose and the gift is for the Gift of defeating death for us). we still hunt for eggs (I totally love easter egg hunts) .
the Tooth fairy... our kids haven't lost any teeth yet. but we don't see anything wrong with it. but we haven't gotten that far yet.
and I am totally with Kathleen on this.... those little kids and their snotty little attitudes just get under my skin. like the little girl in The Best Christmas Padgent Ever. anyways that's what we do.... HTH
 

Montanablue

Puritan Board Doctor
nor do I expect her to lie to other kids if they push her into a corner to talk about Santa.
To clarify - I wouldn't want parents to tell their children to lie either. I was referring to children who rush around enlightening their peers without prompting. At any rate, most small children aren't going to be pushed by their peers to lie about Santa. As a child, I always told my friends that I didn't get gifts from Santa, my family gave each other gifts instead.
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
i've always told chloë that santa, the reindeer, etc. Are just pretend and that no one has all-knowing power or is everywhere all the time except god alone. They're fine to pretend about, but that's as far as it goes. I also never tell her that christmas is about Jesus, religion, etc. . . Because it shouldn't be (yes, i realize the immense unpopularity of my position, even amongst many professing reformed folk). I tell her the only holy day that exists is the lord's day and that we don't celebrate Christ's birth apart from his life, death, and resurrection. If it must be *at all*, i much prefer the emphasis be on family, modest gift-giving (if people prefer), and just wintery fun time than it be on idolatry and will-worship (and i am not speaking to the intent or sincerity of those who engage therein). I would cut it out altogether except that the people with whom my little one is most of the time celebrate it, as does my mum n dad, etc. But i will not lie to my little girl, nor do i expect her to lie to other kids if they push her into a corner to talk about santa.

P.s. - besides the idolatrous part of this "holiday" in making it "christian," i hate the commercialization of it because of the ridiculous pressure that's put on people to spend money they don't have at work, at school, at home, and at play. To me, it is simply absurd to spend the kind of money some people spend at christmas that they might not otherwise spend except to keep from disappointing their children because they don't "get stuff" like all the other families do.
wcf 21

qed

-----Added 12/7/2009 at 12:23:42 EST-----

That was silly.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
Note: I'm not saying that anyone here does this! But I have seen many strutting six year olds preaching to both children and adults about how they should change their family's traditions, and I think its both ridiculous and rude. Just my 2 cents.
Kids are renowned for saying things parents would rather they didn't. One pleasant child asked me, as I was preparing to leave her house, if I was going to hell. Getting irritated at a 6-year old for indiscretion seems like setting your expectations too high.
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
With my children, it has been more of a challenge. They believe Santa is real no matter what I tell them. And yes, sometimes there are gifts under the tree from Santa. Maybe that's wrong?
I can see where it might be hard to believe that someone who is giving you presents doesn't exist.
I find it very difficult not to believe in Batman, for instance.

Joshua said:
I would cut it out altogether . . .
Whatever, Grinch. I like to trim the occu-pant with who-fu-floof and have roast beast and bang our tartinkers and sing fahhooforays and play noisy games. Someday you will find the strength of 10 grinches plus 2 to embrace the floof and the tringlers and pantookers.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
I vividly recall, over 4 decades ago, thinking that God was something made up by grown ups to get kids to behave, and that thought came just after I was informed that there was no Santa. So I never did the Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy etc.. things.
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
Joshua said:
I would cut it out altogether . . .
Whatever, Grinch. I like to trim the occu-pant with who-fu-floof and have roast beast and bang our tartinkers and sing fahhooforays and play noisy games. Someday you will find the strength of 10 grinches plus 2 to embrace the floof and the tringlers and pantookers.
Such nonsensical trabblings do not dortestecate the chifflamations of the formaltesque gigs.
Yes, but you're a three-decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce, whose soul is an appalling dumpheap. Moreoverishly, you drive a crooked hoss. And you really need to see a Dentist about those termites.

(Don't test me today: it's snowing. It makes me feel festive. I will hurt you with my Harley-hat horns.)
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
Joshua, I'm sorry; if you're going to use big words, and not illustrate your posts with pictures, I don't think we can have a meaningful dialogue.
 

Montanablue

Puritan Board Doctor
Note: I'm not saying that anyone here does this! But I have seen many strutting six year olds preaching to both children and adults about how they should change their family's traditions, and I think its both ridiculous and rude. Just my 2 cents.
Kids are renowned for saying things parents would rather they didn't. One pleasant child asked me, as I was preparing to leave her house, if I was going to hell. Getting irritated at a 6-year old for indiscretion seems like setting your expectations too high.
I'm having a lot of trouble with clarity here...apologies! What irritates me is not when a child commits such an indiscretion, but when their parents encourage and applaud them for it.
 

matt01

Puritan Board Senior
Be as honest as possible and don't lie to your child. :)
Start early, and be honest. Our three year old knows that he is not real, and that she won't be getting any presents from him. What is the point in denying the inevitable?
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
I've always told Chloë that Santa, the Reindeer, etc. are just pretend and that no one has all-knowing power or is everywhere all the time except God alone. They're fine to pretend about, but that's as far as it goes. I also never tell her that Christmas is about Jesus, religion, etc. . . because it shouldn't be (yes, I realize the immense unpopularity of my position, even amongst many professing Reformed folk). I tell her the only holy day that exists is the Lord's Day and that we don't celebrate Christ's birth apart from his life, death, and resurrection. If it must be *at all*, I much prefer the emphasis be on family, modest gift-giving (if people prefer), and just wintery fun time than it be on idolatry and will-worship (and I am not speaking to the intent or sincerity of those who engage therein). I would cut it out altogether except that the people with whom my little one is most of the time celebrate it, as does my mum n dad, etc. but I will not lie to my little girl, nor do I expect her to lie to other kids if they push her into a corner to talk about Santa.

P.S. - Besides the idolatrous part of this "holiday" in making it "Christian," I hate the commercialization of it because of the ridiculous pressure that's put on people to spend money they don't have at work, at school, at home, and at play. To me, it is simply absurd to spend the kind of money some people spend at Christmas that they might not otherwise spend except to keep from disappointing their children because they don't "get stuff" like all the other families do.
:applause: :ditto: and a resounding :amen: plus :up::up:

Josh, you did a find job articulating exactly why I have no desire to celebrate Christmas. I catch more flack for my position than for any other of my beliefs. My wife and I will buy presents for our parents and our new nephew. I refuse to participate in all the gift exchanges at work, church, etc. Yes, I said church. I refuse to put up a tree in my house. I will go to my wife's job's Christmas party but only to eat a free dinner and have a drink. If this maketh me a Scrooge or grinch, then so be it.

Josh, I hope you don't mind, but I am posting what you said on my blog if that's okay.
 

CatherineL

Puritan Board Freshman
Just today I had all my kiddos at the paint store and the very nice salesman was asking my little ones if they were "ready for santa?" My almost 5 year old was a little confused, but just smiled and nodded. What he asked if they had been good, she looked at me, and I said "they'll definitely be some goodies to open at our house!" Then when he walked away my daughter was like, "does he know that its a game?" I told her yes, but he assumes that *she* doesn't and he's just being nice. She nodded very sagely. So maybe this won't be so difficult after all. :)
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Joshua doesn't realize it but even the Grinch was converted.

Narrator: He puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more!

Narrator: And what happened then? Well, in Whoville they say that the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day. And then - the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Grinch found the strength of *ten* Grinches, plus two!
[video=youtube;MPBS7dVrE1U]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPBS7dVrE1U[/video]
 

Dwimble

Puritan Board Freshman
Sounds like we do what many others here have said they do as well...tell our daughter that Santa is just pretend, like all the other pretend things that we have fun with. We include the various Santa-related carols in all the regular carols we sing and listen to, and she has a couple of Santa-themed toys and such. She gets excited when she sees Santa, pictures of Santa, toys, and so on...but in exactly the same way that she gets excited when seeing Curious George, Goofy, or any other cartoon-type thing with which she's familiar but knows isn't real.

We are always careful to explain to her what the real meaning of Christmas is, and never talk about Santa as if he is real or relevant like God, who is the center of our lives and provides all we have. We never mention anything about Santa bringing presents to us or anything like that...because, after all, he is just pretend. All that we have is provided by God, who takes care of us. What I find a little annoying though is how many people (even at church) regularly ask her, "What do you want Santa to bring you?" "What did Santa bring you?" "Are you excited that Santa is going to come?" and so on. She always looks confused when people ask her that, and obviously doesn't have a clue what they are talking about. And frankly I'm glad about that. It is odd that the Santa tradition is so prevalent in our culture that the overwhelming majority of adults in America won't even hesitate to ask a complete stranger's child if she is excited that Santa is going to be visiting her house and bringing her presents.

Our daughter isn't really old enough yet (she just turned 3) to understand about kids believing in him or not, about telling other kids, and so on. But pretty soon we'll be teaching her that some parents want their kids to believe in Santa, even though we don't really understand why, and it isn't her place to tell them the truth. She is to just be polite and leave that for their parents to tell.
 
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