Saturday, December 13, 2008

We Still Believe...

Jeremiah and I have struggled a little lately over whether or not we should "do Santa." We have heard the opinions of other parents who say they don't do it because they don't want to lie to their children. They want their children to know they only speak truth to them, so they don't look at them one day and wonder if all that Jesus stuff is pretend like Santa. I get it, I see it, but it makes me sad.

Some of my most vivid and wonderful memories from childhood are from Santa. Lying in my bed on Christmas Eve. Straining hard to hear noises on the roof, a rumbling in the chimney. My heart beating so fast with excitement and anticipation that I could not force myself into slumber, even though I knew I must if Santa was going to come. I remember when the veil began to slip, and I started asking questions about Santa. My Mom strove valiantly to keep my belief alive, and I believed long after many of my peers had fallen to the way side. There wasn't an exact moment I knew he wasn't real, but instead of being sad or angry or questioning God (as many parents warn me my children will do one day), I felt proud--like I was one step closer to the adult world. I joined forces with Mom, curbing questions and pretending that I believed so that my sisters could still wait breathlessly on Christmas Eve. Slowly, one by one, each sister joined the grown-up team, and even when my baby sister joined us, we couldn't bear to let go of the game. I don't ever remember Mom voicing the fact that she was indeed, Chris Kringle. Even as a married woman, I was still coming down the stairs to see what Santa had brought, and it would have been a sacrilege in our house to breathe a word to the contrary.

So, do I rob my children of these memories? Do I think that I am going to hinder my child's salvation or my tender relationship with them, because I play make-believe with gusto? Really look at what you know to be true about your own parents...How much of it hinges on their attitude towards Santa Claus? Isn't it more about how they lived their life before you every single day? And, more than anything else, there is only one very narrow window in life when a person has the ability to truly believe in magic. I could not know that I squelched that opportunity for my child. It's too precious. It's too valuable, because it's the footprint that's been left in my heart--of that time when magic was real--that brings color and beauty to stories I read even now.

I love you friends who have opted to leave Santa in the pretend realm, and I do respect your reasoning, even if I don't agree with it.

(Just so we're clear and I don't get any "Jesus is the reason for the season" blog comments, we WHOLE-HEARTEDLY believe that over here, and I think it is a travesty to let anything, including Santa, overshadow that. I'm just saying I think there's room for the big guy in red as well.)

33 comments:

Denise said...

We are big Santa believers too! Glad someone else shares my feelings on the subject! Merry Christmas!

Darby said...

Are you sure you're a Christian? Ha ha! J/K We do Santa too... in fact... my husband even used him for leverage last night to get the girls in bed! :) Sometimes... whatever works!

The Jernigan's said...

I can't imagine a child without being able to experience Santa. I totally feel the same as you !!!

Tegan said...

We are on the Santa team as well!!! Some of my favorite chilhood memories are from Santa. My Dad was one of the greatest examples of Christ and he LOVED the magic and exctiement of the big guy! I never once thought as a small child that Santa was more important then the true reason why we celebrate Christmas. HO HO HO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

becky said...

you are so right, abby. i still believe in Jesus, and i know santa still comes to my house ;-)

Kristin F. said...

I've never even considered not sharing Santa with my daughter! Santa was such a wonderful part of my childhood and I never doubted my parents or their love of our Lord. I hope that I can encourage Ella to celebrate the birth of Christ with a little Santa on the side!

Emily Laseter said...

Hi there! Just to offer another point of view, my parents were "those parents" who told me truth about Santa from the start. They told me that while he wasn't real, we could still pretend that he was. I really don't feel like I missed out on anything, in fact, I loved that every Christmas my parents, my brother, and I would play this game and pretend together. We still left cookies and milk out for Santa and received gifts from him as well! And the Santa threats still worked! By the way, I love your blog so so much. Your stories just break my heart into a million pieces (in a great way) and then stick it back together with glitter-glue.

Hillary Dunham said...

I love that viewpoint and reasoning! Thanks for the clear thoughts on a tricky issue these days! :-)

Hicks Family said...

I certainly join you in believing in Santa. Your daily walk will impact your children far more than Santa. Jesus is always the focus of Christmas but it sure is fun to participate and enjoy Santa as well. Shannon

Rhett, Megan, Claire and Ford said...

I generally don't step into this debate because for some reason people get fired up about Santa Claus (or lack of him) but here it goes . . . This has been a tough decision for us (more for me than my husband - I will say). I think Santa is great. I have wonderful childhood memories of him.I think fun and imagination are the stuff that childhood is made of - I just have one problem with the jolly ole fella - he is stealing glory from Christ on a day that should be focused on celebrating His birth. It's tough to do both because let's face it Santa with all his gifts vs. little baby Jesus in the manger and, well, Santa is going to win that fun contest any day (sadly not just to a child). It's just confusing - Santa, Jesus what is this all about? Jesus ends up being some sort of formal side note before all of the fun with Santa starts. We considered doing a separate "Santa Day" different from Christmas so there was a distinction in our kids' minds but eventually decided against it. At our house all of the time leading up to Christmas is in joyful anticipation of Jesus' birthday. Our kids get three gifts just like He did (if three enough for Jesus it is enough for them!)as part of the celebration on Christmas morning. It is a huge celebration and we make it very special but it is not focused on Santa and the gifts he brought us. We never considered the reasons you mentioned against having Santa as reasons we wouldn't (not lying etc.). We just wanted our entire Christmas celebration to be Christ centered and felt like Santa was a huge distraction (not just to the kids). We aren't "anti-Santa" so you don't have to worry about us pulling your kids aside and breaking the news to them ;)we just don't celebrate him in our home. I don't judge others in a negative way for having Santa come to their house but I do think that every spirit filled believer will at some point think about Santa and make a prayerful decision about him.
I have to be honest this has been a tough one with our families who don't share our views on Santa. To my family, who are not Christians, Santa IS Christmas so they think we don't celebrate Christmas at all which we find quite ironic. Obviously we are in the minority on this one in most circles - even in the church - but I hope that we can all respect each others decisions on what is right for our families. Merry Christmas!

Kendall Boggs said...

Hey Abbs! One of my all time fondest memories is Christmas morning I believe 1991 maybe? Jordan and you talking on the phone giggling with excitement that Santa just happened to bring you both "New Kids on the Block" tickets right next to one another! How did he know? hum...I STILL believe and could not imagine not sharing that with my children! Great blog!
k

Steve Karg said...

Santa Claus (Saint Nicholas) was a real person, and his reputation for secret gift-giving continues, even to this day. I read about Saint Nicholas to my kids when they ask about Santa Claus.

Patrick and Sarah Grace said...

Abby, your girls are so precious and beautiful! I wondered about the Santa stuff too, but I think we'll keep it alive for Mac. Merry Christmas!
--Sarah Grace

meredith said...

Growing up we were always taught it's better to give than receive. We used to purchase toys for the underprivileged but we always had to include a toy of our own. My dad would dress up as Santa and we would take it to a family in need. We always "did Santa" every year but my parents were always making sure to include the real reason-the Birth of Jesus. Our family tradition which continues to this day is we all have Christmas Eve dinner, go to midnight church (really 11pm) and then go home and read Luke 2. There is room for both and you also don't want to you children to lose their innocence too soon. Hope this helps! Y'all have a Merry Christmas!

~Meredith

Mitzi said...

We still do Santa! You and Jeremiah will be able to draw a line between our faith and Santa. There are many who don't trick or treat because of their faith.
On a another note, did you see the Lake Hotel is for sale!?!

Mike : Emily : Madeleine Grace said...

After discussing this issue with some friends, I was referred to this blog post. I grew up believing in Santa Claus and my wife didn’t. I agree that Santa is fun. However, I was reading a blog (www.twentytwowords.com) by Abraham Piper (John Piper’s son) and someone’s comment summed it up for me: “A lie is a sin. God hates sin. Therefore, God hates lies. In the sight of a holy and perfect Almighty God, there are NO ‘harmless’ deceptions.” I don’t think we’ll ever know who’s right or who’s wrong. The decision whether or not to believe in Santa should be based on personal conviction. I strive to live like Christ, so I ask myself: what would Jesus do? Would He really tell children they better be good because SANTA is watching them? I have a hard time believing He would.

Kellie Patton said...

Thanks for sharing Abby - obviously this is a very controversial topic! We try to combine both, without putting too much emphasis on Santa - it is fun and magical and what memories are made of, but we do celebrate Jesus' birthday and have a party for Jesus and remind the children "why" we give gifts. We also go to as many "Jesus" events during the Christmas season as we do Santa. We also read the Christmas story from the Bible first thing on Christmas morning! I try not to outright "lie" to my children - I AM SANTA and SANTA brings the gifts! Thanks for sharing your heart on this!

Nai Nai said...

Well said!
We believe in the big red man too, and yes "Saint Nicholas" was a real person. Thanks for your stories. Happy Holidays!

andi said...

I love the children's book God Gave Us Christmas. It talks about Santa, but like you guys do, points the reason to Jesus. Check it out! I think you and two little munchkins would enjoy it very much. Hugs! You're a great mama!

Jessica said...

Thank goodness!! You were worrying me!! I mean, I don't think that "doing the whole Santa thing" is lying to your children. I love Santa and the idea of Santa and always have. I remember when I found out and I didn't look at my parents as if they had lied to me and I don't think most children do... once they find out they are normally old enough to "get it." I believe Jesus is the Reason for the Season and Santa is just part of that season! I STILL believe!! :)

Mary Kathryn said...

I can't imagine Christmas without Santa or Jesus!!! My parents always did "the Santa thing" but we never left Jesus out either. At Christmas dinner every year, we would have a birthday cake for Jesus and sing "Happy Birthday" and everything. Even though Santa long has stopped coming to see Will and me, our family still has Jesus's birthday cake at Christmas dinner. I never felt like my parents lied to me by letting me believe in Santa. To me, Santa is just one of those priceless childhood memories.

Jenny said...

We also had Santa and Jesus. Christmas morning after the excitement of the presents, we would (and still do) sit around the table and read the Christmas story and light the advent wreath. I think you can have both. The Sollie's are on Team Santa and Team Jesus!

aedozier said...

Well said. I couldn't imagine taking that from my child. I, like you, still ran down the stairs as an adult to see what Santa brought. My mom would say you have to believe to recieve. I totally respect those that don't do Santa, but we will in our home.
Merry Christmas!

Katie B said...

I vote - Keep Santa. He still brings me presents!

Jennifer said...

I think there is room for both as long as you focus on what the season is really about. The fact that you care so much about putting forth the best message for your girls proves that you will be fine in whatever you guys decide... I don't think you ever have to worry because they KNOW that you love them so much. Merry Christmas!

Louisa said...

My mom must have explained things well to me, because it never ocurred to me that Santa was in competition with Jesus to steal his glory. If you believe in Christmas then surely you are recognizing the inherent importance of Jesus Christ. I always thought Santa was just helping to spread holiday cheer and to celebrate the Christmas season, at the very heart of which is the birth of our Lord.

Instead of seeing Santa as threatening, why not see him as an important lesson for kids - someone who works all year out of the goodness of his heart to spread the meaning and celebration of Christmas to make others happy?

Santa can be super commercialized and I agree it's just too much sometimes. But, I'm saddened to think people would find Santa threatening - a strong Christian faith doesn't have to be exclusionary.

Gail said...

WHAT??? There is NO Santa? I'm 65 and still believe!!! LOL...Pretend is a good thing! I love your take on it, and have to agree with you. Merry Christmas!!! g

Natalie McGough said...

I agree with everything you said. I too would lay in bed so still, so quiet and so many times I just knew that I had heard Santa: )!! Those are such fun memories. My sister and I still act like there is a Santa, life would be a little less exciting w/o him! And yes, Jesus is the focus, Santa is just a little bonus!

CL said...

I don't have children and already I can't imagin denying them the 'Santa' tradition. Your daily walk with God is reassuring to us all that your children know the true reason for Christmas. God Bless, Merry Christmas and have fun being Santa!

Dona said...

A man named Kyle Matthews came to our church about 3 years ago. He has a song called Everything Santa Knows He learned From Jesus. It is so good! My children have no questions after listning to it. His entire Christmas album is WONDERFUL! It is called Timeless Christmas Child
Have a great Christmas!

Lauren said...

hey abby, i was going to email you, but i didnt have your address...i just wanted you and your family to know that i have been praying for yall and remembering mrs. becky over the past few days. i dont remember the actual date of her going home, but i know it was within the past week or two and i know that it has been a long hard year at times with out her. please know she is alive and well within the hearts of many as she watches over us from above. her sweet spirit and love for jesus is something that i pray i will one day radiate as she did. merry christmas,
lauren
laurenbtrain@gmail.com

emily said...

Hey Abby! We had so much fun with your girls at Jeannies house painting cookies! Your children are precious! Mary Applin can eat. She cracked me up eating Ritz crackers. Pace was so sweet painting her cookies and putting all kinds of sprinkles on top. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas!

zapasnews said...

nice blog



happy christmas to all