Friday, December 20, 2013

The Lie of Santa

As a culture we lie to our kids about Santa. We go to crazy lengths to prove he is indeed real. We do things like mailing letters to Santa, participating in the elf on the shelf, taking photos with Santa at the local mall, having family members dress up as Santa, leave cookies and milk only to eat them ourselves and don't forget to leave the crumbs behind as evidence.

We expect everyone around us to support us in our lie and if by chance we are exposed for lying by another adult or child we are furious and somehow they are in the wrong for spilling the beans. If our children find out the truth, that Santa is a fake, they are crushed and the moment is often portrayed as one that takes away their innocent childhood. It is not to be a good moment in their lives but one they will remember and reflect on as we often see portrayed in movies like the Santa Clause trilogy.

The idea of Santa is fun, I get it. He is everywhere during the Christmas season. In fact yesterday, I was surprised to hear these lyrics on my local Christian radio station, 

         "Santa Claus is coming to town
           He sees you when you're sleeping
           He knows when you're awake
           He knows if you've been bad or good
           So be good for goodness sake"

I struggled with the idea of lying to my kids about Santa, but if I didn't I would be scolded by society for not playing along. I would be ruining my children and robbing them from this tradition and at the same time, insulting the right of others to do so. 

Thinking about the allure of Santa I realized how similar it is to the promise of Heaven if you have a relationship with Jesus. Maybe that is the comfort in the the whole concept of Santa. The idea is that Santa lives above us at the north pole. A magical place filled with happiness and joy. Filled with goodies and toys and everything a child could imagine. We teach that even adults should be child like and want to be a part of this magical world. He is this comforting big jolly authority figure who watches our every move and we hope to gain his love and approval so we aren't left out. We take our wishes to Him through our Christmas list in hopes of getting our hearts desire in return.

As a Christian Mother, teaching my children about Jesus, I struggled with the thought of lying to them about Santa. How would I explain to them that I lied to them about Santa but teaching them about Jesus real. 

My oldest daughter is very literal. She is incredibly smart for her age and very logical. I knew that when she asked me a question about Santa I couldn't answer in a false manner. As she got older and asked more questions my answers became something similar to this, "Santa Clause is a tradition, something that is fun to pretend. Similar to a cartoon or a movie, people enjoy it but it isn't real."

She is in first grade this year and came home one day saying that she was talking with her friends about Santa not being real. My first thought was oh no, my daughter is the one that is going to get ridiculed for not keeping up with the lie about Santa.

I became frustrated that she is put in that position. Adults who lie to their kids about Santa get mad when other kids call them out on their secret. What are we teaching our kids?

I was able to explain to her that parents like their kids to believe in Santa and she didn't have to worry about setting them straight. I also explained to her my reason for not lying to her. I wanted her to know that I always told her the truth. I wanted her to know that she could trust me. When she comes to me with questions I will be honest and of course age appropriate. 

Being a foster parent I have had to have many "kid rated" conversations about our life and the all that comes with having foster kids in our home. I have to be real, not detailed by any means, but my kids have come to me about questions and I want them to know I will be honest with them as long as it is appropriate for them to know. 

I recently caught a few minutes of a movie the other day where a single mother was carrying home a christmas tree with her son, one that she barely could afford. Her son was listing off all the gifts he hoped to get for Christmas as they walked home. When she encouraged him not to get too excited about his expectations he assured her that the presents would come because they were on the top of his list for Santa. We teach kids that if they ask for these gifts, expensive or not, that they will receive them simply because they told Santa. It seems this is the expectation even if we lost our job, or struggle to get by and put food on the table, etc... Hearing stories in the news about people going to extreme lengths like robbing banks, fighting with people in the stores for the last one of the perfect gift, well, it is sending the wrong message, on many levels. 

I just never understood how the whole idea of Santa made sense. As someone who lives for Jesus Christ the focus of Christmas is celebrating his birth. Now, I love everything about Christmas, the family gatherings, the holiday food, the hot chocolate and snowy days, the fuzzy pajamas, picking out a Christmas tree and decorating Christmas cookies. But these are traditions don't leave me with the feeling of guilt, except maybe the enormous amount of calories that come with the traditional Christmas feast. :) 

I just can't look at my children, who come to me with innocent eyes asking for information about our wold, and lie to them. I am not a grinch when it comes to the whole Santa thing or cold hearted on the matter.  I often respond with,"Santa is something people like to pretend, like a game, something fun to do." 

I seem to be in the minority when it comes to my choice to not keep the secret about Santa. It can be a conversation stopper with friends who participate hoax. My kids still get excited when they see Santa waving outside a store but they know he is something that is pretend. 

One of the many differences between Christ and Santa is that with Jesus the gifts are freely given instead of something you have to earn by making it on the nice list. Think about it, we will never make it on the nice list, we are sinful people. But with Christ, if we believe and give our lives to Him, the best gift of all is free. The gift of eternal life. 

We put Santa on this pedestal that seems to get bigger and bigger as more traditions create more money for the retailers. Santa is merely a cute story. I am sometimes amazed that we as adults have all banned together to create this huge falsehood. On one hand I understand, we love something that can bring us all together. "It is the best time of the year," as we often sing.

People come together and celebrate. It is known as the time of year people are more giving and kind to one another. I understand the excitement. But I just don't get why Santa becomes this idea that we worship to the point of building up this image to extreme levels. I get the appeal but the reality is that we have a Savior who is the true focus of Christmas. We have a Savior who died for our sins. He freely gives to us eternal life if we believe in Him and give our lives to Him. He provides for us all year long instead of the one magical Christmas night. He loves us even when we sin and fail. We are wiped clean and are white as snow after we choose to live for Him. Let us celebrate the truth of His birth and his everlasting love for us. Christ is the true reason of Christmas. 

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