Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How To Think About Santa

Over at the DG blog, Noel Piper shares her reasons why she and her family have decided not to include Santa in their Christmas stories and decorations. I agree with what she says, even though I guess I could think differently once I have kids.
First, fairy tales are fun and we enjoy them, but we don't ask our children to believe them.

Second, we want our children to understand God as fully as they're able at whatever age they are. So we try to avoid anything that would delay or distort that understanding. It seems to us that celebrating with a mixture of Santa and manger will postpone a child's clear understanding of what the real truth of God is. It's very difficult for a young child to pick through a marble cake of part-truth and part-imagination to find the crumbs of reality.

Third, we think about how confusing it must be to a straight-thinking, uncritically-minded preschooler because Santa is so much like what we're trying all year to teach our children about God. Look, for example, at the "attributes" of Santa.

* He's omniscient—he sees everything you do.
* He rewards you if you're good.
* He's omnipresent—at least, he can be everywhere in one night.
* He gives you good gifts.
* He's the most famous "old man in the sky" figure.

But at the deeper level that young children haven't reached yet in their understanding, he is not like God at all.

For example, does Santa really care if we're bad or good? Think of the most awful kid you can remember. Did he or she ever not get gifts from Santa?

What about Santa's spying and then rewarding you if you're good enough? That's not the way God operates. He gave us his gift—his Son—even though we weren't good at all. "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). He gave his gift to us to make us good, not because we had proved ourselves good enough.
I also thought her grandson sums it up very well in this video from last year.


  1. Anonymous1:19 AM

    This reminds me of StuffChristiansLike #664: Not knowing what to do with Santa. There are some really good comments on it. In particular, I like the idea of teaching about Saint Nicholas (the real person).

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