The Great Santa Debate

This time of year, it seems that ‘Santa Claus’ is nearly as polarizing as the names ‘Edward’ and ‘Jacob’ in a cafeteria filled with 6th grade girls.

The thing is, I understand, respect, and appreciate both sides of the Santa debate. Those who don’t include Santa choose to make Christ the center of Christmas while those who do just want to incorporate a fun childhood tradition with their own children. This post is not intended to sway anyone one way or another. It is actually written for my own sake…to process and organize my thoughts about incorporating Santa into our own Christmas celebration.

Up until this year, I have been happily ignorant of the whole issue. Both my husband and I grew up in homes where Santa Claus was part of our celebration. We both have treasured Christmas memories that involve Santa.

So when we celebrated Big Brother’s first Christmas 3 years ago (when he was 11 months old), we didn’t even think about whether or not we would include Santa. It was a given.

It really wasn’t even until this year that I started assessing whether we really should be including Santa in our Christmas celebrations…mostly from other bloggers and writers as well as  comments on my Facebook page whenever Santa was mentioned. I didn’t really come to any earth-shattering conclusions after I began pondering this topic, but here are a few things I’ve realized:

As parents striving to raise our children to love the Lord, we celebrate Christ (his life, death, and resurrection) each and every day of the year. We talk about God throughout the day, we read Bible stories, we pray regularly with our children. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t set aside special times to celebrate more intently as well (as God himself commanded His people Israel to do in the Old Testament), but our daily, lifelong focus is to be on Christ.

If Christmas is the only time that you celebrate the birth of Christ, I would conclude that there isn’t any room for Santa in that celebration. 25 days (the length that we typically end up “celebrating” Christmas) is way too short to focus on the whole story of Christ AND Santa. But because we try to make Jesus the focus of every day of the year, having fun with Santa for a few days of the year won’t take away from Christ being the center of our lives or even our Christmas celebrations. Just yesterday I asked Big Brother, “What is Christmas about?” Without any hesitation, he replied, “About Jesus’ birth!”

In our home, Santa is included but not emphasized. Our kids take pictures with Santa (mostly because Mama wants it for the photo album), we read a couple books here and there, and we have a few Santa figurines. But we read WAY more books about Jesus’ birth, have nativity sets prominently displayed, and we focus WAY more on the real meaning of Christmas.

We talk about the story of St. Nicholas and we don’t go out of our way to embellish the fantasies surrounding Santa. Our boys are too young to ask whether or not Santa is “real”, but I would venture to guess that when the day comes when our children ask us point-blank, “Is Santa Real?”, we won’t lie to them. We are especially vigilant not to portray Santa as “God-like.” We don’t talk about the myths such as “He sees you when you’re sleeping…He knows when you’ve been bad or good”  (unless, of course, “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” is playing on the radio). Last year, Santa (aka my dad) visited our house while the boys watched from the staircase. Even though this does “feed” into the myths about Santa just a little bit, in my mind it keeps him from being God-like because they can actually see  him delivering their gifts and makes him more of a character (like Mickey Mouse or Elmo) and less of a deity.

The fact of the matter is, whether we like it or not, Santa is all around us. Nearly every time we have left the house in the last two weeks, someone has asked one of our children something about Santa (“Is Santa going to come to your house? What did you ask Santa to bring you?”). We can’t even walk into a store without being bombarded with images of the jolly old elf.

So, we have a choice. We can either avoid Santa altogether (which is especially difficult to do in the American culture), we can go all out and embrace all of Santa (myths and all), or we can include Santa for a short time in our daily celebration of the birth of our Savior. The important thing is that we, as the parents, are intentional in every act of parenting (including our holiday celebrations) and decide what is best for our families. For our family, this means the latter.

What about you? Does your family include Santa in your Christmas celebration?

(I appreciate your comments and feedback. Please note however, that any comment found to be rude or offensive will be deleted immediately. I know this is a sensitive issue, but please remember to be respectful.) 


Interested in reading a bit more about how Santa can be included in our celebration of the birth of Christ? I recommend reading this post by the authors of When You Rise as well as this post by Mark Driscoll.

And if you’re looking for some resources on including Santa in a Christ-centered celebration, I would highly recommend:

Why Do We Call it Christmas? DVD

Veggie Tales:  St. Nicholas



  1. I appreciate your thoughts on this…we have struggled through the years with it all…but I really like the way you put it all into words. Thanks!

  2. Great post! Last year, this wasn’t an issue for us. Our daughter didn’t even recognize Santa. This year, she is a bit older and watched the Dora Christmas special, etc. I noticed when we were in a store she would recognize Santa. All of the sudden, I realized I needed to decide where we stand. A friend of mine shared the Mark Driscoll post with me a few days ago and I thought it fit perfectly with how I feel (and now your post as well). I especially loved this part of Driscoll’s post:
    “What we are concerned about, though, is lying to our children. We teach them that they can always trust us because we will tell them the truth and not lie to them. Conversely, we ask that they be honest with us and never lie. Since we also teach our children that Jesus is a real person who did perform real miracles, our fear is that if we teach them fanciful, make-believe stories as truth, it could erode confidence in our truthfulness where it really matters.

    So, we distinguish between lies, secrets, surprises, and pretend for our kids. We ask them not to tell lies or keep secrets, but do teach them that some surprises (like gift-giving) and pretending (like dressing up) can be fun and should be encouraged. We tell them the truth and encourage them to have fun watching Christmas shows on television and even sitting on Santa’s lap for a holiday photo if they so desire.”
    (Sorry for such a long post!)

  3. I am also.careful not to demonize Santa like my grandfather did. The “santa rearranged spells satan ” shows a sad ignorance of our language and gives undue power. When my 6 yr old asks I say santa is pretend like pooh and dora. She seems none the worse for it. Merry Christmas!

  4. I like what you said about celebrating Jesus every day. I want my kids to think EVERYTHING is about Jesus. Not just Christmas!

    We don’t do Santa and honestly, I’ve been a bit hard-fisted with it b/c I think Christmas is such a BIG deal I want to make the BIG deal about Jesus. I’ve tried to equate Santa to Frosty. He’s fun, we see him at Christmas, but he’s just a story in a book. I see absolutely no harm in that.

    So, do your kids think Santa brings gifts? Or do the gifts come from you?


    1. Thanks Amanda! We do a small gift from Santa, which my dad brings in (dressed in a Santa suit) and puts under the tree while the boys watch from our staircase. This was a tradition that we had as a kid and I LOVED it, long after I knew that Santa wasn’t real. If the boys ever ask, “Is that REALLY Santa?”, we’ll of course tell them the truth. But this way, they see the gifts being brought…and there are no flying reindeer or shimmying down a chimney myths being told. The majority of the gifts (we do only 3) come from us, though.

      I completely understand and respect your reasoning for not “doing” Santa! Christmas is a BIG deal and Jesus needs to be the BIG deal of the BIG deal! :)

  5. Perfectly articulated. We’re working through what the Christmas season should look like around here too. Nothing is trivial now that we’re entrusted with the souls of our children, and I appreciate the way you remind us of that while honoring the various ways that will pan out with different families! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  6. My husband’s family grew up without Santa included at all in their Christmas. My family had Santa, but we never took him that seriously as far as I remember. I mean, I honestly don’t remember much except having some gifts labeled from him… I’m not sure how much I ever believed.

    Because we both aren’t that “into” Santa, we’ve just kind of gone the “He’s a story” route… Some people believe in him, and he’s fun to read about, but we know that Jesus is the reason we celebrate Christmas. And my 4 year old gets it. I don’t think my 2 year old even recognizes any Santa, haha.

    So I guess we’re middle of the road. Even when people ask my daughter if Santa is coming to visit, she just answers, “I want snow for Christmas!” (which we aren’t likely to get this year…) or that our new baby will be here at Christmas (I’m due Dec 29). So far, non-issue, haha!

  7. We have always focused on Santa. But this past year, as we’ve just started attending church and reading the bible, I’ve felt somewhat uncomfortable about it. Christmas really isn’t about Santa but about Jesus.
    I appreciate your post and will read the links. We do have books about Jesus’ birth and my 5 year old knows that Christmas is about Jesus. But he’s far more interested in Santa! How can I undo what’s already been done? All the talk and anticipation of Santa, the pictures, the movies, the elf on the shelf. Not to mention the extended family – there’s NO WAY they would go for it.
    You’ve given me good food for thought. Thank you and Merry Christmas.

  8. great post! I choose to see santa as a storybook figure…for a comparison take the Disney princesses my daughter loves so much…are they real? no…but can you go to Disney and see them and get there autograph and take a picture with them, yes.
    But its all part of the magic :) (And i still live that “magic” at
    __years old, lol!) So Santa is just that a character brought to life until they realize it is all just part of the “magic.” By the way Santa only 3 small gifts to every child in our house…and the emphasis is definitely on CHRIST! (on Christmas and year round! :)

  9. We do include Santa, but, like you, we don’t emphasize him. We don’t focus on the naughty or nice aspect. In fact, when the kids are “naughty”, we discuss how it makes Jesus sad. I do understand both sides of the argument, but I think this is one time where I want them to be able to participate in the fun of being a kid. I don’t think it takes away from our love of Christ because he is the focus of our lives every day.

  10. Our three year old son is just at the point where he understands there is a ‘Christmas man’ – his understanding from everyone is he brings him lots and lots of toys. We do not celebrate with Santa in our house, so how do you deprogram him? We’ve told him we give presents to remember Jesus. We include him in the little Christmas shopping we do. We want him to not have a greedy heart, especially at Christmas, and we don’t want to set him up for disappointment when he asks Santa for X and only gets A. When people ask ‘What is Santa going to bring you?’ I tell them Santa doesn’t visit our house. Most of them get it – stop talking about the fat man with our very impressionable preschooler. My husband and I both grew up with Santa and both had such a sense of anger and disappointment toward our parents (we’re both first generation Christians in our families). For us, it wasn’t worth the risk of doing the same to our son.

  11. Sorry if some of my above post doesn’t make sense…typing one handed while feeding baby, lol….Also wanted to add that i grew up with Santa and i loved it and was never bothered when I found out he was pretend. And i also grew up knowing that Christ is why we celebrate CHRISTmas. But i think each family has there own way and that’s the right way for them :) BTW love your blog and Merry CHRISTmas!!!

  12. Warning: I am vehemently anti-Santa. Mainly because I have seen the sparkle in my kids’ eye when he is mentioned and it bothers me. I think it’s great that your Dad dresses up and stuff. Maybe he can play Joseph in a living nativity or something. :) It is difficult to let go of a tradition that seems harmless but may have lifelong consequences. We are in a battle for our children’s souls and I personally don’t think we can’t afford to give Jesus ANY competition when it comes to laying the foundation of truth in their hearts. The enemy never sleeps and he comes in the form of many pleasant things to try and steal the attention of our kids. I don’t judge my friends or family for their views on Santa but I have to adhere to my own. I believe that children should be saturated with the truth and not given any ounce of counterfeit by their parents. They are going to get lies and deceptions from the world, the flesh, and the devil. It is our responsibility to only give them the truth of Jesus. Whenever I mention Spiderman I mention that Jesus is the greatest superhero of them all. Whenever I mention Snow White I mention that she prayed to God as all princesses should. When someone else mentions Santa, my almost-four-year-old girl respectfully tells them that “no, Santa is not bringing me anything.” They look at me and I flinch, ready to be attacked, “How can you do that?! Poor SANTA!” But surprisingly most people admire our choice to leave him out of it. I mention that we take Saint Nicholas’s example of generous giving seriously but not the whole “Ho, Ho, Ho” persona. No one has ever looked at me like I ran over their Grandma with a reindeer. It makes them pause and the wheels start turning. We have lots of other fun traditions that I am beginning with my kids. They have everything to do with Jesus’ birthday and giving, not getting. We can’t afford to let our guard down in this compromised age. We are up against much more than our parents were when we were kids. Sorry Santa, you goin DOWN!. haha. Thanks for the opportunity to share my position. I hope it helps! God bless. -Diana

      1. Hey, thanks again for the opportunity, sister. I love your website and your Facebook updates. Thanks for sharing your talents with me so I can have more quality time with the kiddos. God bless your Christmas!

  13. Thanks for the post. I agree wholeheartedly about the importance of including Jesus in our daily lives 365 days of the year. Our daughter is nearly 5 and she is in to Santa. We redirect her often when she’s focusing on it too much, and we’re having her help us buy gifts for those who have none, etc. We don’t go crazy on gifts for her for Christmas, so Santa will bring her 1 gift plus a few little items in her stocking. The other 2-3 items to open are from her parents.

  14. I like your post! We do a twist…Santa is the spirit of Christmas and he works for Jesus. Just like God has allowed us imaginations for all sorts of fun play he allows us imagination to continue the story of Santa. My daughter is 4 (an advanced 4) and has asked me directly “Is Santa real” and I just respond “What do you think?” This allows her to draw her own conclusions without me lying. She also asks “Is Jesus real” and I say ABSOLUTELY and we read our Bible (not a book of pretend like her other books). It has worked so far for our family. Santa is not focused on, but is fun to sometimes think of. (We also do pics with Santa, but she knows he’s just a friendly man in a costume)

  15. I loathe this debate! As a pastors wife we allow santa to bring our children a stocking. But all other gifts come from us. We do the gold, frankincense, and myrrh gifts. Also they choose a sibling gift. We do a daily advent calendar and an advent book daily. This year someone gave them an elf on the shelf…we don’t use it to adjust their behavior but to see their eyes light up as they seek him. To adjust behavior we talk about their heart and does it make God happy. I don’t see anything wrong with a little fun…my children can have the tooth fairy(fake!), santa (fake!) and still know that We love them…I never looked at my parents thinking that they allowed me to think santa was real but only to grow up and realize he wasn’t. I think it’s similar to how kids hide their eyes and believe we don’t see them…sometimes for a long car ride you just gotta let them think you don’t really see them.

  16. We do Santa, we also do the Elf on the Shelf, which is how Santa knows if you’re naughty or nice… Gives a different way than the whole omniscient Santa equal with God thing. Santa bring 2-3 gifts that aren’t wrapped and fills the stockings. Since my son is only 4, we haven’t crossed the Santa’s not real bridge yet… I think we will go the route of it’s fun to pretend and that’s why we all do it. Memaw (my mom) really get into the whole Santa thing and she always has. So I want to continue that.
    Thank you for a well written perspective. It does come down to what is right for your family, and you are the only one with the authority and responsibility to decide that for your family.


  17. i really liked how you worded this– you INCLUDE santa- but it is not the focus. i think some people can be so judgmental about this topic. we do santa- very much like you– it’s fun- it’s how we grew up– but we also do advent and read the jotham’s journey trilogy– (AWESOME set of advent books) and my kids know the reason for the season- and like you, we focus on God and Jesus year round. totally agree with your post– actually, the first post about the great santa debate that i agree with:)

  18. I think you found a great compromise! Personally, we’ve decided to not do anything to encourage (or discourage) Santa (with the exception of watching the Polar Express, Rudolph, and a couple other classics that mention Santa, but isn’t the main focus).
    My husband and I both grew up with Santa, but unlike him, I was disappointed that I had been deceived. It didn’t by any stretch of the imagination ruin my relationship with my parents, but I still didn’t think it was fair to be lied to.
    As soon as our kids (currently 1 and 2) ask about Santa, they will get the truth, the story of St Nicholas, some other bits and pieces about why he’s such an important part of Christmas for so many people, a caution not to go telling everyone. (They need to give others the opportunity to talk about it with their parents and just because we don’t like someone’s parenting doesn’t mean we get to step in and do whatever we want)
    We do wait until after they are asleep Christmas Eve to put out presents, but nothing is labeled from Santa and we don’t leave out cookies.
    Also, I think it’s good for children to know the truth about Santa, because it explains the inequality in the lavishness of gifts from “santa” between kids.

  19. I teach my children that Santa embodies what we should all… Reward the good and attempt to teaching people doing wrong that they aredoing wrong… Santa is not a god but he comes on Jesus birthday so every child can be given a gift in honor of Jesus

  20. oh my gosh, thank you!

    I think we have very similar mindsets and thank you for putting into words, what I think I believe too. I feel like I am middle of the road with Santa. I don’t want to spoil all the fun and say there is no Santa we don’t believe in him, because they are kids after all and as you said it is America. But, I don’t want Santa to be the main focus. I make sure we talk about Jesus More, and the real meaning of Christmas more! Plus, i like your point, about talking about Jesus all year long and Santa for less than a month. Thanks for this post. I enjoyed it!

  21. My children are overly imaginative and creative. They often blur the lines between reality and fiction with no encouragement from me. I refuse to damage this innocence and purity so I allow them to believe in magic and Santa and fairies and….whatever else they happen to fancy at the time. I just stand back and let them believe. When they question me I simply say “What does your heart tell you right now, in this moment?”
    I know this trait was inherited from me. I was 15 (pretty old to still believe) when I stopped believing in anything and everything and that is because my innocence was cruelly shattered when a friend was murdered. I wonder if that hadn’t happened how long it would have taken for me to stop believing in magic….

    My children do not have any trouble keeping Christ the center of their overall beliefs and lives. Since they have no trouble with this I find it perfectly acceptable to allow them their magic.

    I know someday my children will ask If I am Santa. Luckily I found this post: I am holding onto it. I think it can be used for any mythical essence my kids believe in. I will just have to modify accordingly.

    Maybe I am so passionate about my kids being allowed complete innocence and happiness because I was allowed the same thing as a child and I look back and thank my parents for cultivating those beliefs. Interestingly they have made my ability to believe and trust in Christ easier. I do not trust my parents any less for “lying” to me. I do not feel like they lied. I feel like they allowed me to live fully. I am a creative person who can spin stories and tales that entertain my children for hours. Would I have this ability if my parents had been anti-Santa and anti-other mythical creatures? I am not so sure.

    I am sorry to babble, but I let my kids believe and no one will make me feel guilty for allowing them the simple pleasure of magic, imagination and creativity.

  22. We don’t do Santa for the reasons others have described. Mostly, because I don’t want to deceive my children on one thing and then expect them to believe me about God. My kids 4 and 6 actually seems to enjoy being ‘in’ on the secret. We tell them Santa is a symbol of Christmas like candy canes and trees and stockings so we don’t freak about about books with santa or shirts or ornaments with santa, etc. Jesus is the reason for the season! There is so much other distraction, we don’t need any other focus.

    I don’t judge others, frankly the whole elf on the shelf thing and letters from santa do seem fun.

  23. We don’t do Santa. He doesn’t bring the presents and like you said he’s not God like and he can’t see them and watch them. My oldest knows him as a character in movies and stories like Dora or Elmo or any other character. We aren’t doing the whole Santa thing, because we feel too many kids these days are only concerned with gifts and with being good or nice the whole year just to get gifts on this one day. They should be good and nice because it’s the right thing to do and because it’s what God asks of us. Not to mention we aren’t comfortable lying to them. My children are 1 & 2 and next year we will be starting our “traditions” of buying gifts for 2 needy children (1 for each of my children to pick gifts for) and getting 3 “big/main” gifts (in addition to the little snacks and things in their stockings) because Jesus got 3 gifts when he was born :) By only giving our children 3 gifts they learn not to be greedy while also learning about the true meaning of Christmas and why they only get 3 gifts. I also want them to know that WE worked hard to get them those gifts. And I want them to be excited for giving gifts to those in need. Not about receiving the biggest amount and being part of a contest (as some kids like to make it). Almost everyone that I’ve told about our no Santa decision says that I’m taking away the “magic” of Christmas. But personally, I think there’s WAY more magic in the story of Christ’s birth. As there should be :D

  24. What a fantastic post! I love how you emphasized that we need to focus on Jesus every, single day of the year! I grew up in a house without Santa. (My Mother was a Christian and my Father is not). I was told that it was just a game that adults like to play with their children. I was told that I needed to play along with the adults and never tell any other children that Santa wasn’t real. Now that I am 27 and have a kid of my own I feel like I missed out on something. There was never any “magic” about anything in my family. My mom was so focused on telling the truth because she wanted me to to focus on God. Many of my Christian friends were told that Santa brings a gift to celebrate Jesus’ birth. And I LOVE that angle. It keeps Jesus at a higher level that Santa. My son recognizes the jolly old man and he gets one gift from him but it is not the focus of our holiday. Heck, the gifts are not even the focus!! This year we bought the Fisher Price Manger so that my son could play with Jesus and understand the story with a hands on approach. (He is 2).

  25. I rarely comment, however, this is one thing that just flat out gets under my skin. I know it shouldn’t, I’m generally a very, to each their own type of person and to a point I am with this. However, I grew up with Santa (as did my husband); I remember at the end of our church Christmas play, we would sing a couple of songs & Santa would appear in THE SANCTUARY! I also remember when certain members of our church became anti-Santa and it stopped. I remember having the is he real conversation with my Mom in the car, on a ride to town; I remember the sadness I felt. I remember questioning about the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny. But NEVER God, never once did I think to question my mother if God was real since Santa wasn’t. Even in my 8 year old mind, I knew the difference. I was raised in a Christian home, I was raised knowing that we celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus and presents are a huge bonus. And, I was raised as an only child & totally spoiled. Santa still left presents for me up until my Mom passed away 3 years ago (I was 30).
    We do Santa for our daughter, who is 4; we do Elf on the Shelf for her as well, although I think he’s more for my sake than hers because it’s just fun. However, she knows that it’s Jesus’ birthday, she recognizes the nativity, she knows about Mary & Joseph and the manger. But, seeing her eyes light up, seeing her feel the magic…well, folks, that’s what it’s about for me. When the time comes and she questions, I’ll tell her the truth, I’ll explain that Santa and the idea of Santa embodies all of the magic that Christmas is about. I would hope that I’m raising her to a point that she would question Santa FAR more than she would EVER question Jesus Christ, especially as a child. It’s not our main focus, my main focus is raising my daughter to know that she is God’s; that we love her, that she’s incredible and that we are blessed; but first and foremost she is God’s.
    Sorry, for the long comment, I loved what you said; it’s just apparently a soapbox for me. And, we’re lucky to have a church that does Santa, not in the sanctuary, but he comes to our Christmas dinner. And, our church friend’s (Preacher’s adult daughter, actually) are going to come play Santa at our house tomorrow night. Merry Christmas!

    1. At Spring B–I really like how you put it. That is exactly how I feel. I don’t judge those who don’t want to do santa that is completely fine with me, but I just want people to realize not for one solitary second when I was 8 or 9 when I found out the truth did I ever think then Jesus isn’t real or now Christmas is a bust. I was getting upset with myself after starting the Jesse Tree this year with my daughter that she wasn’t getting Jesus enough (she is 2.5). I finally realized she and her brother (11m) are growing up in a Christian home and family and as she ages she will know Jesus more and more b/c his Holy Spirit will show her HE is real and the magic of Santa as she ages will fade.

    2. I agree with this 100%. Thank you for putting this into words so eloquently. I’ve yet to meet an adult who says they stopped believing in God or Jesus because they found out their parents were “lying” about Santa. Honestly, I’ve yet to meet an adult who feels “lied to” about Santa period. I would not trade those childhood years and the magic of Santa at Christmastime, just to have my parents be more truthful with me.

  26. Jenae, Thank you so much for including a link to my blog post the When You Rise wrote. My husband and I were struggling what to do but knew we wanted to include Santa somehow. I asked the girls over at When You Rise to write a post about Santa which I new they both included him and they did a terrific job! Thanks again! And Merry Christmas!

  27. I appreciate everyone’s views on the topic. I have said all along that when the time came, I would not do the santa thing but instead talk about it as a story. However, My three-year-old went to early childhood this year, and to my surprise, learned everything there is to know about santa! She told me he will come in a sleigh with reindeer and bring presents. I had not mentioned anything about santa to her before because it wasn’t an issue. I’m trying to make everything about Jesus’ birth as much as possible, but it’s been hard to “compete” with what she was taught at school. I’m a 4th grade teacher, and it really did not even occur to me that she would learn all that is school. Thanks again to everyone for the thoughts!

  28. We too emphasize the real reason for the season and also incorporate santa in the holiday. We do not emphasize him over Jesus. We do keep Jesus in our daily lives and I agree that keeping the novelty of santa does not do any harm if it is not the primary focus of Christmas. We tell our children that God tells santa whether we are behaving because God is the only one that is all-knowing and santa is the “delivery guy” of sorts that helps us celebrate baby jesus birth. Our kids are still small enough to believe in the novelty and also know that the real reason we celebrate Christmas is because of our Lord Jesus. Thank you for your blog and resources~they are inspiring. May the Lord continue blessing your family this Christmas and New Year!

  29. I love this post. And I love that you’re brave enough to write it, knowing how critical people can be about Jesus/Christmas/Santa debate.

    We are new parents to a 5 year old. This is our 2nd Christmas with him, and last year we struggled. As you mentioned – Santa is EVERYWHERE. Try telling a 4 year old that his teacher (and all those books he reads @ school) are lying about him. We had to compromise – I wanted Santa to have little/no involvement in our house (what fun is that?), and the Mister wanted Santa to bring ALL the gifts.

    Our compromise is that we TRY to get him what he asks Santa for (within reasonable means). Last year he asked for 2 specific toys and got those. This year, he asked for something I had already bought for him! :-) So we wrap those in special Santa paper and leave it no the plate where the cookies were when D went to bed.

    I do, each day, talk with him about the real reason. We color pages, we read books, we re-enact, we watch Veggie Tales, we pray, as we do all year, but this time of year focused on Christmas. We do something nice for several families in need, and we make lots of baked goods. This year, he’s struggling more with the Santa stuff b/c what he hears @ school and at home don’t necessarily match up. (Santa doesn’t bring ALL the presents. He brings 1 package.) Mom & Dad fill the stocking, not Santa. Etc, Etc, Etc.

    And so we just keep trying. He does answer that Christmas is about Jesus & Santa now, but I did find a very interesting book that might help. It’s called “A Special Place for Santa,” and is based on “The Kneeling Santa” figurine the Catholic Church puts out (I believe). Really neat.

    Anyway – sorry for the long response, but I, too, long for a healthy balance of both where I don’t have to lie when the big day comes where the big question is asked…

  30. I think you did a great job of discussing the issue tactfully. In my opinion some Christians want to “blame” Santa for ruining the true meaning of Christmas. I don’t think it is Santa’s fault. To be honest I think I am more disgusted at the commercialism of Christmas. The “give me, give me, got to have it; buy mom some dumb sweater at black friday” garbage that is plastered everywhere we look. That isn’t Santa’s doing; that is our entitlement attitudes we have in this country. And I would venture to guess those that don’t “do” Santa are still giving out gifts to their family. {not that there is one thing wrong with that we do too!} But that is my point we are a “give me” culture and as Christians we often feel the “guilt” from the rest of the world to be above that as if we aren’t human, so we look for someone to blame and it just happens to be jolly St. Nick. Bottom line: God GAVE us the ultimate gift and plan to rescue us from our fallen ways when He sent His son to earth. While we do Santa in our home I am more concerned with teaching our children generosity and meeting the needs of others as Jesus did for us.

  31. I think I totally agree with what you said. Like Mark Driscoll, I think the big issue is lying to our kids. I’m fine with including Santa as a fun make-believe character and explaining where the legend comes from, etc, but I don’t want to be telling my kids he’s real and then have them one day realize I lied to them. I don’t think there’s anything evil or wonderful about the Santa figure, for me it’s a trust issue with my kids. Thanks for sharing this (and linking to Driscoll’s post-I’d heard about it but not read it til now!).

  32. Thanks for your thoughts on this. We have Santa as part of our Christmas celebration too. It’s fun, and like you and your husband, both my husband and I have fond memories of Christmas that involve Santa. That being said, like you, we don’t make him the primary focus. We talk about Jesus, we talk about service, we talk about what gifts we can give the baby Jesus (ie service to others, gratitude for our blessings). We even have a big, beautifully wrapped gift under the tree that we put out the first Monday (our family night where we talk about Jesus and enjoy time together without any distractions) after Thanksgiving. It’s sole purpose is to hold our gratitude for things that year as a gift to Jesus. My son is old enough to get it, and I think it’s his favorite tradition so far. I love being able to focus on the true meaning of Christmas without having to exclude the fun traditions surrounding Santa. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

  33. Great thoughts, including a few things I hadn’t thought of before! We focus on Jesus all year long, and especially at Christmas, and we’ll probably include Santa as a minor part of our celebration. Thank you! Have a wonderful Christmas!

  34. Growing up, my parents neither confirmed nor denied Santa. We never had gifts marked “from Santa”, but we were allowed to visit him at the mall.
    My husband was raised where practically every gift was from Santa, and none of them appeared under the tree until after he was in bed on Christmas Eve.
    Therefore, when our 4 year old told us she didn’t believe in Santa because she couldn’t see him here, I was really concerned. If she won’t believe in a santa she can’t see, what are we going to do about Christ?
    I ended up explaining that Santa lived at the north pole, and only visited once a year. That just because he doesn’t live in our town, doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist. After all, our friends from SD still exist even though they didn’t move with us.
    My husband is a pastor, so talk of Jesus is all around us. I’m doing my best to remind my kids that Christmas is about Jesus’s birth when they talk excitedly of Santa. And I’m trying to push down my guilt in pushing the belief in Santa when I don’t really want them to.
    I suppose I’m doing what my parents did – if they want to believe, they can. I just really don’t want my daughter to NOT believe just because she can’t see him. And I don’t want my daughter to question the existence of God some day just because she suddenly realizes Santa isn’t real.
    I pray I’m raising her better. And my husband is sure I’m over analyzing and worrying for no reason.
    And since we just finished baking a Happy Birthday Jesus cake and my kids are having our Santa figurine bring gifts to the baby Jesus in the manger, I think we’ll be ok.

  35. I especially love this line: But because we try to make Jesus the focus of every day of the year, having fun with Santa for a few days of the year won’t take away from Christ being the center of our lives or even our Christmas celebrations.

    Very much agree-thanks for putting your thoughts into words.

  36. I debated with it for a while and came to this. We do the Santa thing. We don’t emphasize him and he only “brings” one gift to the boy (3). We do celebrate Jesus everyday, so see nothing wrong with something special in December. We just make the gift thing a special treat at the end of the year.

  37. thumbs up! our sentiments exactly. have fun w/santa for a time. kids need a little whimsy in their lives. Jesus is real & lasting & celebrated everyday, especially on Christmas.

  38. I LOVE the post, because it’s honest! And I think you’re doing it right. Santa is fine as long as it’s in moderation. And even if you did go all out, you are Christian and emphasis Christ all the time anyways. My friend guest posted on my blog about how “Santa is Real” because “a Santa” is anyone who has Charity, or the love of Christ. You can read the post here:

  39. As a couple seeking to raise our children to the best of our ability, my husband and I have deliberately chosen to omit Santa Claus from our Christmas (in decor and celebration). Our motives in doing so are not to be holier-than-thou, but to present and the real meaning and origins of Christmas with our children. Read on to discover how we arrived at this decision …

    As Bible-believing Christians, my husband and I want to teach our children about God as the Bible portrays Him. We don’t want our children’s perception of God to be clouded or influenced by myths and fairy tales. It is a known fact in child development circles that young children by nature have a hard time picking apart what is true and imaginary. The way Santa Claus is portrayed gives him (Santa) God-like qualities that do not necessarily jive with the portrayal of God in the Bible – that He knows all that we do, good and bad and that they will receive gifts (blessing) only if they are good. This negatively impacts the way a child will perceive God as he or she matures.

    Some have argued that letting their children believe in Santa is no different than telling them the story of Sleeping Beauty or Little Red Riding Hood. I beg to differ. Parents don’t usually convince their children that fairy tale characters such as these really exist/ed; but some parents do allow their children to believe that Santa really exists without correcting their children until they have believed for lengths of time. With our children, we explain the modern-day Santa Claus the same way we explain fairy tales. They are not real … just stories people made up with their imaginations.

    My husband and I don’t want to consciously and deliberately lie to our children … about anything. Serving them the story of Santa and his sleigh full of presents as truth is a bold-faced lie. We don’t want to look our children in the face one day, tell them that we have lied to them, and then watch as they sit puzzled at why mom and dad (whom they have always trusted) willfully encouraged them to believe a lie.

    My husband and I have already begun to teach our children of the real Saint Nicholas (a godly man who sought to give generously to those in need) and the true story of Christmas. We have explained to our children that there are people who dress up in a red suit and call themselves “Santa Claus” to honor the memory of this man, and that some children believe that Santa is the one who gives them their Christmas gifts. We have explained that some children believe Santa Claus is real because their parents haven’t told them the truth about Santa yet.

    Leaving the modern-day Santa out of our Christmas is liberating. For one, we don’t have to worry about slipping up and ruining the whole Santa story for our kids and then watching them deal with the disappointment. They have a more realistic expectation of giving and receiving gifts, and are more grateful for what they are given. They know who gives them gifts and don’t act as if they are entitled to gifts just for being alive. Christmastime seems so much more simple, calm and enjoyable for everyone when Santa is not in the mix.

    In Thinking About Santa, Noel Piper shares many positive benefits of not sharing Santa Claus with your kids:

    – God gave us Jesus to make us good in His eyes, not because we had done something to earn it – this is a crucial point in the Christian faith that most of us have a hard time grasping.
    – Children who grow up knowing that their parents are the ones who give them gifts can speak a great deal into their hearts about the love God has for them. Think about it … parents see the good and bad of their children throughout the whole year and yet, at Christmas, STILL give good gifts to them despite their behavior. Isn’t that more significant than a funny, old, make-believe man who drops in just once a year?
    – Your children can be spared the sense of entitlement and some of the greed that accompanies believing your gifts come freely from a bottomless sack.
    – Knowing of God’s generosity and sacrificial love can encourage our children to pay it forward to other and be more generous with their gift-giving as well.

    from my blog post To Santa or Not To Santa –

    a great history of Santa is found here along with another opinion on Santa –

  40. Thank you so much for sharing this! My little ones are three and one and like you said, we’ve always just assumed it was a given. I also believe in celebrating Jesus every day, not just on Christmas. I hadn’t really thought about the Santa debate until this year and what you said hit it right on the head. Thank you!

  41. Thanks for this post! We have an 18-month old daughter this Christmas, so we’re still in the it-doesn’t-really-matter-yet stage. But by next year… we’ll have to decide. I definitely grew up with Santa, and I can still remember in 1st grade not being allowed into a friend of mine’s “club” on the playground because I still thought Santa was real… I think we’ll do something similar to you, including him as a pretend character but not the focus.

  42. We have four children (10,8, 6 an 4). When our first born came around, we “did” the Santa thing because that is just what you do. The grandparents really hyped it up and so did everyone around us. As she got older and our other children were born, I was very convicted by what we were doing. I didn’t see how I could tell my kids about Santa and Jesus and then feel like I lied to them in the future about Santa. Also, I didn’t want them to question if Jesus was real. We told them about the story of Santa and how he came about, but we just chose not to celebrate him. They also know not to tell their friends that he isn’t real. We explained how some families celebrate Santa. My children are still surprised on Christmas morning with presents that weren’t there the night before. We also do an advent devotional (Jesse Tree Ornaments) beginning December 1st all the way through Christmas Day. Each night they unwrap a new ornament which tells the story of Jesus beginning with creation. It helps keep the whole family focused on the TRUE meaning of Christmas. I do not see anything against people celebrating Santa, but I don’t like how it seems to be the whole focus for Christmas. I think our families decision was confirmed yesterday when my 4 year old son said, “Mom, Christmas is really about Jesus’ birthday and that’s it”. I am so thankful he gets it at a young age. We also focus on giving to those in need and spending time with our friends and family. After all, we wouldn’t have CHRISTmas without Jesus. Merry CHRISTmas everyone!

  43. very well written. now that my daughter is 3, I’ve been pondering the same things this year about Santa and have come to the same conclusion as you. We try to focus on Christ all year, not just at Christmas. She knows about Santa, but also knows that it’s just a fun tradition to play and pretend. We don’t bring up santa or intentionally talk about him, but we don’t make it an issue of others talk about Santa to her or give her gifts from Santa. So far she doesn’t actually care that much about Santa, but I’m sure that might change in the future!

  44. I’ll try to keep brief since I see you have so many other comments here. I just wanted to applaud you. I see a lot of people lately jumping on the no-Santa bandwagon and that’s fine. In fact, I imagine we will probably have a very low-key or no-Santa house when we have children. But I really hate this competition and debate. It really doesn’t matter. If you’re instructing your children and raising them up, then I don’t see the need to turn Santa into a competition. So many anti-Santa people I know came from Christian homes that included Santa. I don’t see the need for vehemence or anger as what everyone is trying to avoid is over consumption and consumerism. Santa didn’t bring that– parents did. I can really appreciate what you said about celebrating Jesus year round. If you’re doing that, then what is there to argue about?

  45. Sounds like we grew up in the same household :) lol. My parents allowed us to bring Santa into our Christmas celebrations, but Jesus’ birth was always the focal point. The one thing my parents made sure of was that we knew the “real” story of Santa. We knew the historical background and never believed that he was real. The main reason for this was because believing in Santa required faith and my dad never wanted us to put faith in something or someone and then have to retract it later. He wanted us to to know that faith in Christ is forever and real….never to be retracted. We still took pictures with Santa and involved him in our Christmas, we just always knew the historical truth behind him.

  46. As Catholics, I teach about St Nicholas which is the basis for Santa. St Nicholas was a real person. And while I do tell the children that Santa is magically and he knows if they are behaving, I do this also in reminding them of the season and others less blessed than we are.

  47. I appreciate the information in this post and comments. I was previously unaware of some of the debate regarding Santa Claus. Our family chooses to teach truth about Jesus every day. For several reasons we do not feel that Christmas represents truth about Jesus or his wishes, so we choose not to celebrate it. We speak and teach about his life daily. Since we don’t celebrate Christmas, we don’t include Santa in anything. It’s a very serious decision either way, and one that each person must make for themselves. :)

  48. We make Christmas about Jesus, but because when our kids go to school there will be much talk about Santa Claus, I found a book about giving presents at Christmas. We give presents because it’s a way to celebrate our love for each other and the love of Jesus. Santa will only bring our kids 3 presents (like the Wise Men brought Jesus) and that’s it. So while we don’t make a big deal about Santa, our 2 year old loves our Christmas books about Baby Jesus. I’d say we’re doing ok! And Merry Christmas to you all, however you choose to celebrate!! :)

  49. I agree with a lot of the things in your article and what many of your commentors have said. My kids know about Santa and read books about Santa and pretend to wear Santa hats and give toys to each other, but we put a big emphasis on how Santa is “pretend” and Jesus is truth. We’ve had parents with grown kids question us on taking such an unconventional approach about something so “harmless” but another older parent listening to one such conversation said that they always told their oldest child that Santa was real and played it up (just like my family did growing up and many others), but a few years after their son found out Santa wasn’t real, he came up to his father point blank one day and said “Dad, is Jesus just pretend? Is that all kinda like Santa?” After that they no longer taught the rest of their kids that Santa was “real.” That is the confusion we are very careful to avoid with our Christmas celebration.

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