I recently read that giving your child the ability to believe in Santa is the perfect present.
Once upon a time I would have strongly disagreed with this. In fact, I’m ashamed to admit, that my oldest grew up NOT believing in Santa Clause. We taught her about the ‘real’ Santa who lived years ago and gave out toys to orphans and how it’s the ‘spirit’ of Santa that lives on today. I struggled with the aspect of Santa, teaching my daughter a lie only to have her heart broken as she grew. I struggled as a pastor’s wife wanting to ensure Jesus was the focus of Christmas.
Looking back, I realize that in my struggle I actually hurt my daughter. I took away from her the ‘magic’ of belief, of imagination and of simply being a child. I was conflicted – could a child hold the same love for Jesus and Santa at the same time?
I look at my other two daughters, my 9 yr old and my 6 yr old and I realize that it is possible for a child NOT to be confused about Christmas. My 9 yr old still believes in Santa, in fact she knows he’s real because she heard him last year. My youngest is so happy that God created Santa and that Jesus helps him love all the kids, because without Santa, there would be a lot of sad children in the world. Who am I to tell her it’s the ‘spirit of Santa’ that is alive through Jesus? If she wants to believe that the real Santa gave her the ‘perfect’ gift, then by all means, I’ll let her believe!
From what I read in the article, it’s all about respecting a child’s imagination, and letting ourselves imagine along with our kids, having fun with the idea without going overboard. What does Santa really represent for children – it’s not the gifts, it’s what he embodies – the caring, togetherness, love and giving. Really, the belief in Santa isn’t that far from the belief in Jesus – they are both about unconditional love, forgiveness and empathy towards humanity. I think that if we, as parents, can treat his image like a treasure that enriches a child’s imagination, we’re not hurting them. It’s when we use the image of Santa to ensure our kids behave, when we threaten that ‘santa won’t come if you …’, then we’re in the wrong. Same as when we use Jesus like that.
So, while I think that sharing with our children the belief in Jesus is the perfect gift we can give our children, I do agree that sharing with them the belief in Santa is ‘almost’ as good.
What about you? Do you encourage your children to believe in Santa or have you found other ways to share with your child the magic of the season? I’m interested J