Parenting

Why Our Family Doesn't Do Santa (But We Won't Be Jerks About It)

Deciding what to do about Santa Claus can be a topic of intense debate for some families. While there are pros and cons to each side of this decision, all American families will be confronted with the culture of Kris Kringle. What to do about the jolly old man is a decision parents should carefully consider.

Here are some reasons that our family chooses not to celebrate Santa Claus:

1. Santa is a fun fantasy character, but he is fantasy, nonetheless.

While Saint Nicholas was once a real person, the tales of modern-day Santa are nothing more than an elaborate children’s story. Santa is fun, just like the story of Spiderman is fun. There are songs, movies, outfits, action figures, and more to celebrate these fantasy characters and we have no problem with enjoying a good fiction story. Even so, we will teach our son that fantasy is different from reality. And even though we will not ask our friends to omit Santa Claus from their Christmas traditions, the character won’t be a part of ours.

2. There are more important narratives we would like to develop.

When it comes to the time and energy needed to raise a child, I want to make the most of my efforts. For the same reason a mom might let her 3 year old wear a Cinderella costume to the grocery store, there are some things I choose not to fight about, because they really do not matter at the end of the day. There are, however, things that I do want to focus my energies on, and developing the narrative of the biblical Jesus tops the list for me. When I think about the one story I want to make come alive for my son, the account of Jesus’ life is something I am willing to spend all of my time and energy cultivating.

I remember when I realized Santa was not real. My mom told me I could not tell my little sister or I would get fewer presents that year! When we tell our kids the mystical tale of a man who appears at every house in the world in one night, inconsistencies will inevitably arise. I would rather work to teach the truth of what is in God’s Word than to strive to defend a fictitious fairy tale. There will be questions, no matter what we teach our children, but it will take significantly less work to support the truth than to maintain an imaginary story. And in only telling my child the truth about Christmas, there is never an opportunity for him to doubt his parents’ honesty.

3. Everything comes at a cost. Gifts do not magically appear.

Getting the perfect gifts comes with a price tag. In our family a great deal of secret family planning and Black Friday hoopla go into the gift buying process. We have a year-round strategy to enable us to afford Christmas gifts, so every month I squirrel away a small sum of money in anticipation of December. Come Thanksgiving, we have money to spend on creating a nice Christmas for our family members. Relying on a magical force to provide for your wants is an ideology we do not want our son to fall into. As he grows older, he will know that our family works hard to provide the presents under his tree.

4. There is an omniscient God who wants us to do what is right — all year-round.

The truth is that someone does see us when we are sleeping. He knows when we are awake and if we have been good or bad. His name is Jesus Christ. He does not take eleven months of vacation. He knows what we do every day of the year and some day we will give an account to Him for those actions. The problem is that nothing good that I do could ever be enough to impress him. I could have a perfect record with the Elf on the Shelf and it would mean nothing to God. More than following every rule, I need Jesus’ grace. I need someone else to adhere to God’s standard of perfection, because I cannot. Without Jesus’ grace, we are hopeless. The omniscient God allowed a way for us to have a relationship with Him aside from our insufficient good works, and that is what Christmas is really about: God’s grace to us.

All of that said, we promise not be jerks if your family celebrates Santa.

While our personal family preference is to teach the truth about Santa Claus, we promise to train our kid to not be a punk about it. No parent wants their kid’s friend ruining their fun family tradition. Just like my mom bribed me not to tell my little sister the truth about old Saint Nick, we get it that his legend is important to you. Just as we have put the time and energy into deciding not to celebrate the big fat man with a long white beard, we trust that you have given thought to your decision as well. You can indulge in Santa and we will continue indulging in Spiderman and his superhero friends. All of our children can have a great Christmas—and we can still be friends!