Every year I struggle with one thing at Christmas. It’s Santa.
It’s no secret that my family doesn’t “believe”. But, instead of debating all the reasons and origins etc, let me talk most about Jesus.
Many people of Christian faith embrace Old Saint Nick because of his good works and his love for the poor. I love that and it’s great to remind our children what serving the poor is. But, generally, that celebration is over after December 6th.
The problem today is, there is no doubt Santa (who has turned into the commercial version of St. Nick) steals the Messiah’s show. It’s unbelievable that even in our home where we don’t celebrate Santa, we don’t discuss the fake magic and we don’t watch many “santa-ish” Christmas shows, my two little kids see Santa and either get scared (if he’s close) or get excited if he is on an advertisement. Koko has gone from yelling: “mom, the guy” with fear, to now she yells: “mom, the guy” with pure excitement because just in the last two weeks Santa has been made to be magical fun on every corner we turn. There’s been so much emphasis put on Santa at Christmas throughout our culture that without even celebrating him, he is still so honored when his picture is shown. He is equivalent to a Sesame Street character or Mickey Mouse in my house. As Christian parents it’s very hard to help children understand that the dirty little stable scene and the baby in the manger is the best gift they will ever receive at Christmas. I mean, we have Santa with presents or a boring baby. You tell me which one sounds more exciting on the surface.
Over the years, I have posted different articles and blogs about this. More than a dozen people have messaged me about the secret becoming revealed and their child having “seeds of doubt” about Jesus being real. Some have realigned their priority for Christmas traditions. Jesus is actually the boring part of the Christmas story. I’m sure all kids would rather Santa and the North Pole to be real. ••The problem I have with Santa is setting a young heart on fire for the wrong thing. You know, it’s like creating a little idol. Santa is like a little idol for children to long for. We no longer light a candle in memory of Saint Nick. We role play for him with cookies and photo ops. We truly, truly have to train our children how to long for Jesus (not first, just period). Jesus doesn’t look appealing. And you know what?.... the rest of our children’s lives Jesus won’t always look appealing in the eyes of the world. However, our children need to be trained it’s all about Jesus, even when there’s something that seems so much more appealing to celebrate or to do.
John MacArthur once said, “We have to keep in mind one major key point as Christian parents- the absolute first “test” all humans have to take in knowing if they are Christian is: “knowing and believing that Jesus is Christ”. John 5:1 is very clear on this.” Christ means Messiah.
Christmas is not only the perfect opportunity to discuss and celebrate Jesus, it is THE main opportunity. We still have a huge- huge Christian assembly in this country that recognizes and gives honor to the Messiah at Christmas. You see, in other countries that is gone already!! In many countries you will not ride down the road and see a nativity scene. Yet, so many Christians jump at the first chance they can to celebrate and honor Saint Nick the entire season.
I heard a pastor once say, “Anything that diverts our thinking away from God is sinful”. Why should that rule not apply to raising our children?
What more can divert our children away from the most important piece of having Christianity than Jesus’ birth? Consider the next time your child has a birthday party, inviting someone else to come over to ruin their spotlight. Invite someone else over to leave your child in the shadows. Christmas is Jesus’ birthday. Period.
We can tell the story of St. Nick, but then move on. Everything about good-works in the Bible comes back to one thing- Jesus. Saint Nick did those things for the love of Jesus. But, even St. Nick’s righteous works are like filthy rages in comparison to baby Jesus’ birth. (Isaiah 64:6). Or, compared to what Jesus did on the cross... you can only imagine how much I love the Easter bunny (hear the sarcasm).
In a world that is so intolerant to absolute truth, parents need to jump at the opportunity and the season to exalt the Messiah in full -without confusion. There are repercussions to lying. Maybe none of the other moms will say it, but, I will. The repercussions for lying could be one day of sadness for a child, or it could be something “unseen” like wasted years of making Christmas magic about Santa not knowing we grieve God’s heart to give our kids the ultimate surrender to Jesus’ birth. The most found memories and traditions for children are created before the age of 10. In the Bible children became kings at that age. Young children were taught precise honor and growth in a maturing relationship with their Lord. Even today, when a kindergartner and first grader boldly know they celebrate Christmas because of Jesus, it’s something so much more than a commercial. It’s like impressing into a child a boldness of worshiping or HONORING one reason for the season.
In the book of 1st John, he says over and over again “if we say...” (then it goes on to name about 15 things)... The book of John is saying “if we say one thing” and live another thing - we need to search our lives. If we say, this is the Messiah’s Birthday we celebrate, but let’s glorify Santa all season- what does that say?
When you talk to your children about Old Saint Nick- remember this Bible verse: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to HIS righteousness.” Titus 3:5
Children are very bright. They also only have so many “impressionable” years. Don’t waste those precious years of not intentionally pouring honor into the Savior’s birth. Studies show that what parents convey as important or as a constant religious tradition-children by the age of 15-18, will already have their views formed based on that. Don’t waste these years by not showing honor to the Messiah at Christmas!