Actually, no. I’m looking forward to Christmas this year. Thinking about what to write in this blog has helped me focus on the important aspects of Christmas.
One of the less important aspects of Christmas that my wife and I decided to ditch as soon as we had children was to play along with the whole charade of pretending that Santa exists. As it happens, this decision was fairly easy to make: From an early age our daughter was petrified of Santa (in fact, anything dressed up in a costume). At children’s parties, the various giant cuddly characters that other children would run to, she would run screaming in the opposite direction from. She was terrified of the thought that some red-suited stranger was going to descend the chimney and wander around the house in the dead of night. This obviously made our decision easier, but we had determined to do it anyway.
This may seem cruel to you but I would like to set out our reasons below so that you can have an informed opinion:
As a Christian family, believing in God is very real. We don’t doubt that God exists. He has changed our lives and led and guided us over the years. We have many years of experiencing his goodness and nearness to us, through good times and bad. A child does not have this wealth of experience. They believe in Santa, they believe in God, almost the same thing to them. From the outset we wanted to differentiate between fairy tales and reality. Fairy tales are fun but we don’t ask our children to believe in them. On the surface, to a child, Santa and God can both seem quite similar. After all, Santa is omniscient (all knowing). Well, he certainly knows if you’ve been bad or good! He is omnipresent (everywhere at once), at least for one night of the year! He is an old man in the sky with a white beard who loves giving out presents. (Actually God is not like that but the popular conception is that He is). You get my point.
The fundamental difference and the heart of the gospel is that God knows we have all been bad. There is no-one good at all. Romans 3:23 states that “all have sinned and fallen short of God’s standard.” None of us deserve our gift of eternal life, and the reason we celebrate Christmas is because God provided the solution. The sacrifice that Jesus made by appearing as a baby in a stable and then going on to die a cruel death 33 years later has meant that we can be saved and receive the greatest gift of all-eternal life.
Showing our children the difference between a fictional Santa and the ever present reality of a loving heavenly father is fundamentally important. And there are other encouraging points as well; being truly thankful for gifts received from parents who love them rather than a gift from someone they have never met; in many cases, knowing that these gifts come from family members with limited resources will engender an appreciation of the gift given rather than presents received from a ‘bottomless sack’; and finally, knowing that God’s generosity is reflected by God’s people encourages a sense of willingness to help others and bless those less fortunate.
Whether you tell your children about Santa or not, let’s determine this Christmas to reflect on the greatest gift that has ever been given to us and imitate this grace and kindness by being generous and expressing our love to others.
Finally, on a lighter note. What do you call someone who’s scared of Santa? …………..Claustrophobic