Hamlet almost had it right. “To be or not to be” is a great question, but for many Christians, “To Santa or not to Santa” is truly the question to ask in December. Whatever you decide, can I make two recommendations? First, let’s extend grace to one another. The unity of the church should be strong enough to withstand a man in a red suit. Second, as a parent, don’t forget to filter this issue through the lens of honesty and tactfulness.
If you choose not to include Santa in your Christmas tradition, you will need to help your child respond to others who believe in Santa. While they may be tempted to tell their friends the truth about Santa, perhaps it would be best for them to demonstrate tactfulness and refrain from doing so.
If you decide to include Santa as part of your Christmas celebration, you will need to think through the implications of presenting Santa as real. One of our goals as parents is for our children to have the confidence that whatever we tell them is true. Don’t we undermine this when we claim that Santa is real? Perhaps the better approach is simply to share that Santa is make-believe. You can still have fun with Santa without compromising your child’s trust in your absolute honesty.
There’s one other important factor concerning telling your child that Santa is real. What happens to your child’s understanding of Jesus when he learns that Santa is not real? For years you have told him that Santa was real and at the same time also told him that Jesus is real. I would encourage you to consider carefully if your child’s understanding of — and genuine belief in — Jesus is worth a brief season of believing in Santa.
Brian Dembowczyk is Associate Pastor of Discipleship and Assimilation at FBC Tampa, Florida. He is married to Tara and is father of Joshua (5) and Hannah (3). You can follow Brian on Twitter at @BrianDembo or check out his blog at missionaldiscipleship.blogspot.com.
Our daughter (pictured above, with Santa at Sears) is 2 this year, and I still don’t think my husband and I have decided what to do about the Santa conundrum. He grew up not believing; I learned there was no Santa when I found his wrapping paper hiding in our basement around age 8. Did it damage me? Not much. But I see the author’s point. I’m interested to see what you have to say on the topic!