Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Great Santa Debate

Today, as I was reading, I came across this story: "'Why Believe in a God' Ad Campaign Launches on DC Buses". According to Fox News, "Ads proclaiming, "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake," will appear on Washington, D.C., buses starting next week and running through December. The American Humanist Association unveiled the provocative $40,000 holiday ad campaign Tuesday."

Ok, seriously. Don't these people have anything better to do? What is so strange is that these people have forgotten
the whole meaning behind Christmas. For them, it has become a complete commercialization. It is totally about gifts. I mean, without CHRIST, there would be no CHRISTmas.

This brings me to the Great Santa Debate. I know this isn't specifically what the story is about, but it came to mind when I saw the story. You see, until Channing and I joined Church of the Highlands (greatest church ever!) and came into contact with some people who didn't do Santa, I had never thought twice about doing it. My mom did Santa with my brother and me when we were growing up, and I LOVED it. I absolutely loved the anticipation of Santa coming, leaving out cookies, seeing what he left the next morning, the whole shabang. It was awesome! And I totally planned on continuing the tradition.

I found out
that my mom was Santa at a pretty early age, thanks to my brother. I mean, how could he let me continue on in bliss if he knew that Santa didn't truly exist? That just wouldn't be fair. Then, that was that. The mystery was solved. My mom was Santa. I don't remember it being a huge deal. However, I have a friend who said that she was "devastated" to find out that her parents had lied to her. For that reason, among many others that are even more important to her and her husband, her family does not do Santa. I totally respect that.

When I first learned that people didn't do Santa, people other than Jehovah's Witnesses, I was shocked. It was just such a foreign idea to me. Hearing their reasons, the following being the most commo
n, gave me some things to consider:

  • Christmas is about Jesus, not Santa. When you focus on Santa, it takes away from the true meaning of Christmas.
  • You are lying to your children. When they find out that you've lied about Santa, they may assume you're lying about Jesus too.
  • You are lying to your kids. Period.
I felt like a horrible person. Here I had been covering my house with Santa decorations (along with nativity scenes, snowmen, reindeer, everything Christmas). What was I going to do with all my Santa decorations? How was I going to handle not doing Santa? What would I tell people who asked what Santa was bringing Tristan? It was a huge stressor for me. I was so disappointed to leave such a fun tradition behind; however, I felt it was something I needed to do because I felt I would be judged by other Christians if I didn't. It was a super hard time for me.

The first year Channing and I did this, I think Tristan was 2 1/2 (he could have been younger. Time kind of runs together for me). People were asking him left and right what Santa was going to bring him for Christmas. The kid didn't even know who Santa was, and I had no idea how to handle it. I didn't want to make those people feel bad. Most times, Tristan would look at them with a puzzled face, and I would just list some things he was asking for. When I was with friends who were adamantly opposed to all things Santa, I never knew what to say. I didn't want to seem less-than, like I didn't love Jesus and focus on Him at Christmas. During those times, I would politely say, "We don't do Santa."

I was never comfortable. I was doing (not doing, actually) something because it was something others expected of me, rather than what I felt in my heart. I went through the same thing with Easter and Halloween. Finally one day, Channing and I had a heart to heart and shared our feelings with each other about how we felt about Christmas, Easter, and Halloween, our priorities, and how we wanted to handle the holidays.

Based on our discussion, we decided that we didn't want to cut Santa totally out of our Christmas. We had always made sure to make Jesus the center of our season, and just because we used Santa decorations and sang Santa songs, we were not, in any way, taking away from the reason for the season (we didn't feel we were anyway). We still don't totally do the whole Santa thing. We have explained to Tristan the story of Santa Claus. We take pictures with Santa and watch Santa movies. We watch nativity movies. We sing Santa songs. We sing Christmas hymns. We just don't tell him that Santa is bringing him a Batman car for Christmas. We don't make a huge deal about that part of Santa.

That is the decision we made for our family. We realize that every family handles Christmas differently, and we totally respect that, and we also appreciate when people respect what we have chosen. There are SO many ways that people handle it, and I hope that Tristan doesn't ruin it for anyone else. Today at work, Asher and Tristan were watching a Wiggles Christmas DVD, and a little boy said, "Santa's not real!" This upset Tristan, and I had to remind him about Santa. It hurt me, though. I know kids tongues can't be controlled, and that according to the Bible, "No one can tame the tongue", but I wish everyone mutually respected other family's decisions.

Philippians 2:4 says, "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." This is one of those areas for me. I have friends who gung-ho do the whole Santa thing. I would LOVE to do it too. I understand their reasoning and can justify it. For us, though, Channing and I have agreed not to completely commit. I want their kids to enjoy it, though. I don't want my boys ruining their fun tradition.

It's funny, though, in talking to people, how many people do Santa but don't tell anyone for fear of judgment. They don't want other people whispering about them behind their backs. The same goes with Halloween. I just laugh at the things I hear when people describe their Halloween nights to Christian friends:

"We just trick-or-treat a tiny bit."
"We don't do Halloween. The kids just dress up in costumes and visit the neighbors on my street."

I think it is so funny, yet so sad. So many of us, as Christians, mold so much of what we do, not based on what we've read in the Bible, but based on what our Christian friends are doing. We're constantly looking over our shoulders to make sure no one thinks bad of us. You know what? I am over it (in the nicest way possible) :). I am here to please One...Jehovah God. I am trying my best not to justify my actions to everyone anymore. I'm trying not to let others' opinions of me rule what I do. I want to live for God and to please Him. Tough lesson for me, but through my study on "The Bait of Satan", I am growing. I have LONG way to go, though!!!
A little disclaimer, The Bait of Satan in no way addresses The Great Santa Debate.

So this Christmas season, make sure you put JESUS FIRST, and the rest, go with your convictions. I mean, 90% of Christians call Resurrection Day, Easter, and the title "Easter" came from a pagan goddess. So, I mean, come on. Let's spend this season focusing on what is most important and not judging others and not worrying about what others think about our holiday traditions.

Ok, that's my piece. You got anything? What does your family do? Are you scared to share? As Christmas gets closer, I'll be sharing some of our family traditions. I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!!


Donna said...

We've actually made it this far without committing either way on Santa- so far, Santa just hasn't been a big focus- we didn't really say he brought them the toys- but when we see his image in stores we say "oh- there's Santa" and then don't talk about it much more. I guess the time is coming to decide one way or the other! Of course, St. Nicholas was a Bishop and a Godly man and his feast day is in early December so you can always tell the story of the "real" santa and how he worshipped God.

annieck said...

That is what we've done. I wanted to make sure he knew how Santa came about. It's such a GREAT story! :) It's been a while since we've shared the story with him, though. We should definitely give a refresher. Thanks, Donna!

Anonymous said...

I loved this post! I have had sooo many discussions regarding this oh so controversial issue! We (me and my sisters) grew up in a house where we never believed in Santa. My mom didn't want to lie to us and didn't ever want us to question Jesus' authenticity when we found out "the truth". So many people think that it's "depriving" your children if you don't let them believe in Santa. I have to totally disagree. We still left our milk and cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. We have tons of traditions that we still do to this day and that I can't wait to hand down to my children. I just can't believe this is such a big issue!! The longer I'm a mom, the more I realize how petty we all really are! We really do care way too much about what others are thinking and/or saying about us. It's ridiculous and sad! I refuse to give into those lies and live in that kind of prison! I'm with you, Annie! I'm over it! Not to be rude at all, but just to say....aren't there more important things in life to be concerned getting our kids and ourselves to Heaven??!! Sorry for the tangent!!-

Hillary Dunham said...

Yes- love that idea, D.
And for us, what we've done- and we did at my house as a child- is focus on Santa that brings gift b/c God gave us Jesus... wise men, etc.
Plus, the biggest thing about Christmas at our house was that we always made Jesus a birthday cake, sang happy birthday and ATE it for BREAKFAST! How fun is that if you're a kid? I think we're going to do that this year since we're going to be here. I think we did it last year at my mom and dad's, but I had a newborn, so it was a blur!
And for Santa, this is the first year that Owen has really asked about him and asked for Santa to bring him things. A big red train, specifically. Which Santa went ahead and bought today on sale at Hobby Lobby. I think we're going to set it up around the tree.
And, while I'm rambling in your comments section..
Another point about Santa (not that I totally agree with this), but I've heard people say that they don't like Santa taking all the credit! ha!
We decided yesterday actually that we weren't going to hold Santa over Owen's head- like "Santa's watching you" or "Santa likes it when you are good". Then what would we go to in January?
So, I always tell him that mommy and Jesus are so proud when he obeys mommy and daddy, etc...
Alright- that's my 2 cents. I agree with all that you said, too!

Brandi said...

Since you did ask for thoughts I will share mine. They are very simple. Christmas is a time of joy and celebration. I remember how excited I was about Santa when I was a little one but I knew the real "Reason for the Season". Just look at how excited and shocked Timothy and Tristan were when they saw Santa at the mexican restaurant. It is just a small portion of the entire celebration. We will do the Santa thing in addition to teaching HC about the birth of Christ. If people don't think I'm a Christian for it, oh well. They don't determine my eternity, thankfully!

annieck said...

Hillary, LOVE your Christmas traditions. We do the "Happy Birthday Jesus" cake too, and we sing. We started that when Tristan was a year and a half. We LOVE it!

Lindsey and Brandi, I wish I were more like you two! I admire that you are able to just do what you feel led to do instead of worrying what others think. That is a major struggle of mine. Through prayer and concerted effort, I am working through it! I went through the same thing with the whole public, private, homeschooling thing. Ashley asked me why I care what others think. She said she could care less. I need some of that!!!
Pray for me, ladies!

You both had GREAT points. Brandi, Christmas IS a time of joy, so we should definitely do what we enjoy. As long as Jesus is the center, who cares? I mean, when I talked to Pastor Chris about it and asked him what his kids tell people when they ask them what Santa is bringing them, he said that they list what he (PC) is getting them. He said they weren't lying because they knew that he was Santa. I had a friend who justifies doing Santa that way. She says she's not lying to her child about Santa because Santa DOES exist, it's just that Santa is her parents.

Lindsey, I LOVE that you guys still did milk, cookies, and reindeer food even though you knew that Santa didn't exist. How fun is that?! :)

I love incorporating our Santa stuff. However, we do make sure that Tristan understands that Christmas is celebrated because of the birth of our Savior, not Santa or presents for him.

Thanks, all of you, for your comments and for sharing what you do and did growing up. I love hearing everyone's points of view and everyone's traditions. I can't wait to get more into traditions in a later post. I LOVE seeing and hearing about what other families do. I'm always open to ideas. :)

Love you all!

Oh, and Hil, I love how you tell your boys that you and Jesus are watching. That's AWESOME!

Amy said...

Great, great post! I didn't know that people had Christmas w/o santa until we were at seminary. It was a foreign concept to me, but one that did make sense. Up until now we have also not made a decision completely one way or the other about santa, but all of the comments on your post have helped. (I do LOVE the b'day cake for Jesus idea.)
I agree with you that we should be respectful of others traditions. I HATE the feeling that my personal walk with the Lord has to "measure up" or conform to someone else's opinions. Personal conviction is the key, it's just hard to know what I'm hearing and who it's from sometimes. This santa thing is a great example of cultural christianity. It is awesome that you and Channing discussed these things and now you guys can "feel" it out as you go. Ultimately, your children will know that Jesus is THE reason for Christmas and they will feel more secure knowing that you guys are on the same page when it comes to any other traditions.

holly said...

OK, since my sis commented (Lindsey), ya'll know how I grew up. Since I was a single mom when I had Alex, I told him from the start that Santa wasn't real, but we continued the traditions we did in our home as children. When I married Tadd, he thought it was terrible that we didn't 'do' Santa. And now that Alex is 8, he still asks me why I didn't let him believe in Santa...can a girl win? NO!!! It's hard, especially with movies like 'Miracle on 34th St' and 'Polar Express' that encourage children to 'Believe.' We need to focus on making sure the 'believe' in God and not focus so much on santa ;) Who knows what we'll do with Hadley and new baby since Tadd and I disagree on the subject.