By Michelle S. Lazurek, Crosswalk.com
Before we had kids, my husband and I asked each other whether we would tell our kids Santa brought them presents each Christmas. In a previous church we pastored, a couple adamantly stated they would not tell kids there was a Santa. They didn't believe it was okay to lie to their kids and simply told them they (the parents) bought them their gifts. Growing up, my husband and I were told there was a Santa Claus. We both believed up until several years into elementary school. One year, I awoke and saw my parents bringing out presents. When I told my sister what I had seen, she told my parents, and my parents asked me if I believed in Santa. I told him I didn't anymore, and I understood it was my parents trying to make Christmas a special holiday for us. Several years later, when I accepted Jesus, I never once thought Jesus was not real, simply because Santa Claus wasn't real. Because of this, we stepped out in faith and told our kids there was a Santa Claus. When they got to the age where they needed to know there was no Santa, we told them. Both of my kids are living vibrant Christian lives today. Neither have questioned that our belief in Jesus is not real, simply because we told them there was a Santa Claus.
For parents who are on the fence about whether to have their kids believe in Santa, here are a few reasons why kids will not question Jesus if they believe in Santa:
Santa Was a Real Person
Santa is based on Saint Nicholas, an actual Saint who lived many years ago. It was his spirit of generosity that we honor today. Although Saint Nicholas didn't look the way Santa looks today with a long beard and glasses and who lives at the North Pole, it is the spirit of giving during the Christmas season we want our kids to take away from the Christmas holiday. Not only does it give us great joy to give our children presents, but it also is a special delight for us to watch our children’s eyes twinkle and exclaim with joy when they come downstairs on Christmas morning to see a tree full of presents. Even for those families who can't afford many gifts, the fact that someone made them a special gift is magic enough. As a parent, if the kids question if Jesus is real, tell them they both were real people who walked the earth and that their spirits of sacrifice and giving are what we celebrate today.
Santa Sees and Knows All Children
Part of the legend of Santa Claus is that he knows each child and whether they've been good or bad. Based on that premise, kids receive special gifts that only he knows they want. For years, my kids wrote Santa letters of what they wanted. Of course, I snuck a peek at the list and made sure they got what they wanted. But part of the magic of Santa Claus is knowing there's someone who knows you intimately enough to get a special gift just for you.
The joy of knowing Jesus is that we can live each day knowing there is a God who knows us intimately enough to know everything about us. Psalm 119:1-2 says, “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.” We all have an innate desire to know and be known fully. Jesus promises that he has known us since the moment we were born. He will know us until the moment we die. Children don't need Santa Claus to know us intimately; we can know Jesus every day. For children who do not know Jesus yet but believe in Santa Claus, this is a perfect opportunity to allow them to accept Jesus into their hearts. Review the idea of Santa’s naughty and nice list and assure them that Jesus does not have that. Instead, he has a Book of Life in which all people will have their names written simply by believing, and we'll get to know him in heaven. We do not have to work or be good or bad for our heavenly invitation, for Jesus has already given us the greatest gift—the gift of salvation.
We Can Know Both Jesus and Santa
Kids who believe in Santa may have an easy time believing in Jesus, too. Another part of his legacy is that all we must do is simply believe in Santa to receive the good gifts he wants to give. In the same way, Jesus simply wants us to believe in him to receive the gift of salvation and the gift of knowing him intimately. While adults can lose their sense of wonder in the Christmas season because they don't have a magical person to believe in, we get to experience Christmas 365 days a year simply by knowing Jesus, clinging to his Word, and praying so we can get to know him intimately, too.
The Gift Jesus Gives Is Free
Because we celebrate the spirit of generosity, sometimes parents will go overboard to get their child the latest fad or newest toy to make their holiday the best yet. However, they are greeted in the New Year with credit card debt and overwhelming bills. However, Jesus is even easier to believe in, considering his gift is free. We can do nothing to earn it; we simply have to believe he existed and died for our sins. Although Santa has a magical quality to him and walking with Jesus each day can come with its share of trials, we know that both Santa and Jesus share the characteristics of sacrifice, generosity and giving, all of which are character traits we should emulate in our adult life as well.
Although it’s sad to watch kids lose their wonder in Santa as they grow older, the beauty of knowing Jesus is that he is with us each day. We don't have to give up our wonder of Jesus. He reveals things to us through his Holy Spirit. Allow your kids to experience Jesus in tangible ways, such as reading the Word, praying, and attending church regularly. Encourage your kids to know him as intimately as they believe Santa knows them. You don't have to separate Jesus from Santa, as they share many of the same character traits.
If a child walks away from the faith, it will not be because they believed in a man who wore a red suit and lived at the North Pole. It will be because they believe their sin is too great to forgive or because they're too rebellious in their ways. Both Jesus and Santa give us the gift of freedom. But Jesus had to give his life up for it. Help your kids understand if they take up their cross and live like Jesus, they will experience the freedom both Santa and Jesus offer.
Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.