12.12.16

Six years later, six reasons why we still don't do Santa

Six years ago, we made the decision that as parents, we wouldn't include Santa Claus in our Christmas celebrations. It was an easy decision for Brad and I, but we received a lot of push back from well-meaning friends and family. The funny thing was, we only had a two month old baby at the time, who wouldn't have a clue who Santa Claus was for a couple of years. But it was important to us to make the decision and to be consistent. Six years later, and three kids after making the initial decision, we're really glad we haven't included St. Nick in the festivities, and are stronger than ever in our conviction.


We felt uneasy about including Santa from the get go, but once we thought and prayed more about it, we knew it wasn't right for our family. Here's a few of the things that helped us decide not to include Santa Claus in our Christmas traditions, if you'd like to hear. As always, please know that this is just our family's choice and not one we are saying you need to make as well.

1. Including larger-than-life Santa Claus distracts from Jesus and is a missed opportunity.

For adults who have been following Jesus for many years, there's still a temptation to get caught up in the hype and materialism of Christmas. Now imagine you're a child, and you're still not sure about what to believe. Add in a joyful elf who delivers presents magically to every child in the world in one night, and a baby in a manger is kind of hard to get excited about. When this mythical man is thrown in the mix, kids are naturally not as inclined towards celebrating Jesus, at least not as the main event. Meanwhile, Christmas is the easiest time to talk to your kids about the gospel, as everyone around them is singing songs that point to Christ and they have two weeks off school to be with their family. We felt that by including Santa, it was missing the most natural opportunity that we have all year.

2. Santa Claus makes materialism paramount.

We have aimed to not make gifts a main part of our festivities, and it's so much easier without Santa in our traditions! With Santa comes writing letters asking for specific presents, making sure you're obeying so Santa will bring you said presents, and of course, finding out what Santa brought all of your friends. The whole point of Santa Claus is that he brings gifts. I'm not saying that gifts are all wrong, or that we aren't giving our kids a few presents as well, but presents play a very small role in our home because the kids know they come from Mom and Dad, and Mom and Dad care a lot about spending money wisely, not accumulating too many things, and buying things second hand when we can.

3. He's not real.

This might sound silly, but it was a big reason we didn't want to include him in our Christmases. He isn't real. It's a completely created idea. Sure, there are some cool roots, and Saint Nicholas sounded like a wonderful man, but there is no North Pole, there are no flying reindeer, and Santa doesn't have the ability to be omnipresent or omniscient. So why are we spending so much energy telling our kids these lies!? Especially when there is a real God who we want them to know, of whom we speak and hope our kids will believe us. We want to talk about the truth with them, especially at Christmas, so it felt strange to add on a tradition that would require us to lie to our kids every.single.day.

4. He's not fair.

Every year, our kids choose certain gifts to send to families in need who live in third world countries. They know, because of our many conversations, and also from seeing the world around them in the city, that many people go without basic needs every day. If there is a Santa, and he's bringing great presents to your kids, why isn't he bringing them to every child? Why will Santa have brought some kids better gifts than others? As much as we hope our kids won't brag about their Christmas presents to their friends once they're back at school, what happens when they do, and other kids realize Santa didn't treat them as well (or treated them better?)?

5. Santa Claus doesn't encourage gratitude.

The idea that if you're good, you'll earn gifts from someone you'll never actually talk to after you've received your present doesn't do a lot for gratitude. Spoiler alert: my kids are selfish. All kids are! Parents need to work hard to teach them things like gratitude, and Santa kind of flies in the face of that. Think about it: kids write out their list, and then gifts magically appear. There's no lesson in spending money wisely, there's no model of sacrificial giving, there's no appreciation for mom and dad. This isn't about getting credit from my kids, it's about their character on the most exciting morning of the year, and how that can be better molded without Santa.

6. Santa Claus is the anti-Gospel.

I know, I probably sound like hyper-theological (and maybe Grinch-like?) here, but it's true! The idea of Santa Claus is that if you're a good little boy or girl, then you will receive presents from Father Christmas. If you're bad, you'll get coal in your stocking as your punishment. The Gospel says, not of your own works, but by GRACE you have been saved! No one is good enough to earn the Father's love, and no one is bad enough to escape his grace. Especially at Christmas when we are focusing on Jesus more than other times of the year, we felt like this was important not to muddle up. Santa Claus and the Gospel are two very distinct messages, and only one felt like good news to us. 

But here's the thing: whether you celebrate with Jolly old St. Nicholas, or your kids have known forever that he's a myth, please know you've got a friend in me. I sometimes hesitate to share these polarizing views because the last thing I want is a debate, or for a reader to think I'm judging them. This is where we've landed for Christmastime parenting, and it's simply our decision that was best for us. 

I should add that we've also had many many talks with our kids about not telling their friends that Santa Claus isn't real. It's become especially important this year with two of our kids in public school where they include Santa Claus in the curriculum! Santa crafts and songs come into our home from their schools, and we are totally fine with that. Lily's class even wrote letters to Père Noël and she told me she wasn't sure if she should write one, because she knows he's not real. In the end she decided to participate in the exercise but in her heart she knew it wasn't real and that Christmas wasn't about presents anyway. I was so proud of her! 

To my knowledge, they haven't told any of their friends that Santa isn't real yet, and I hope they don't. But Lily did ask me a tricky question: "If a friend asks me if I believe in Santa, should I lie to make sure that they don't find out he's not real?" Hard one! I said in that case she should say, "I don't believe in Santa Claus, but it's fine with me if you do." which is what I always want them to feel free to say when disagreeing with someone's beliefs. 

It's been the right choice for us, and we're loving Christmastime this way. Our kids don't feel like they're missing out at all by not having Santa Claus and still site Christmas as their favourite time of year with time off school and Jesus as the focus (ok, and cookies and gifts, I'm sure!). Whatever you do, I encourage you to be diligent to think and pray about it. So often we just go with the flow as parents without taking the time to reflect, look at scripture, pray, and research (us included!). If you have done this all, and still celebrate with Santa Claus, good for you! Being intentional doesn't always mean we'll have the same convictions, these are simply ours :)

14 comments:

  1. Anonymous12.12.16

    First comment here: We don't do Santa, and this post puts my thoughts into words perfectly. We had alot of pushback from friends and family (and strangers!!) about our choice but it really makes Christmas easier. No elf on the shelf, no lying. Our biggest problem is that my in-laws always get an uncle to dress up as Santa on Christmas Day and hand out the gifts. The other kids are so excited but ours are confused. The obligation is each kid has to sit on Santas lap to get their first gift and it feels wrong that our family encourages (sometimes forces) our kids to do it when it goes against our convictions. And then our kids thank their grandparents for their gifts but the other kids think that's weird because, well, Santa! I hate the whole thing so much I want to keep the kids home and come after Santa does his thing. Any suggestions? Family is so tricky.

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    1. oh man, an uncle dressing up and kids expected to participate is TOUGH! Thankfully in a couple years it will be understood that Santa isn't real (this really isn't a life-long issue for kids, so that's comforting!)
      I would talk honestly with your parents (or whichever relatives established this tradition) and share your views. My parents didn't love our plan to omit Santa, but in the end they've been respectful about it, but it meant having the conversation which isn't always fun, but worth it!

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  2. This was such an interesting read. To be honest, I don't have any spiritual faith (I totally respect yours though and I really don't mean to be offensive!). Nevertheless, the whole Santa Claus thing always bugged me. I don't have kids yet, but I'm considering doing like your family as I really don't like the idea of lying to loved ones for years, only to disappoint them later on.

    Actually, most of your arguments are totally in harmony with my personal values, despite we don't have the same spiritual faith. I think the holidays are a time to spend with loved ones, making good memories together, unwind and give back to people a little less fortunate than us. The whole santa thing steals the spotlight from all those much more important things (to me) and really makes this precious time of the year totally materialistic.

    Anyway, all of this to say, thank you for sharing this, it feels good to know I am not the only one feeling uneasy with the Santa Claus myth. I always enjoy reading your posts, as I never feel judged for having different religious opinions than you.

    Joyeux Noël!

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    1. Hi Genevieve, thank you so much for your kind words! I really appreciatre you commenting, and following my blog :)
      I'm so glad to hear that you've felt welcome here as a reader that doesn't align with my faith. My goal is to be authentic about my beliefs but to have a respectful and open voice that all women can relate to, if possible. I'm really happy to hear that's been your experience as a reader.
      Thanks again,
      Joyeux Noel + Bonne Annee!
      xo

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  3. I've never commented before, but I loved this post. We did do Santa with our kids, but always in an extremely low-key way because of conflicts with our faith. But I agree with every one of your points and think you made a very good case. If I had to do it over again, I'd probably do it the same way your are.

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Kari! There are like 1,000 things I'd do differently, and I'm only 6 years into parenting :)
      Merry Christmas!

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  4. We also don't share your Christian faith, but I have problems with Santa. Last year it didn't seem pressing, but this year, the material aspect of Christmas has kind of grabbed hold of my son. Last year, I had an Advent calendar with Christmas "to do's", and I think that helped. I just wasn't on the ball this year with it. Here's a link if anyone wants to check it out! http://www.happygomama.com/activities-advent-calendar/

    I'm not positive how to tackle it. We kind of figured we'd let him do Santa stuff as it comes up in school and library,but not indulge it much at home. When he started piecing together the contradiction and problems with the Santa story, we'd let him realize it's not true on his own. That's how my family did it. I'm having real trouble with the materialism and Christmas though, both as he displays it and I feel in myself. This post has given me a few ideas, as well as some confidence that my son will somewhat understand that we do things differently.

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    1. Thanks for sharing brie. Some years are easier than others with planning and organizing, eh? Sounds like you've struck a good balance for your family, and now the key is keeping ourselves in check even as adults, to not let the materialism get out of hand. It's tempting, I can relate! But whether the true reason you celebrate is family time together, or God sending his son, if we agree that it's not gifts than we have to follow that to the finish line. I have relatives who really indulge and give amazing gifts at the holidays and I'm trying to keep my mind off those things, but it's not always easy, is it?

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    2. ps - I just checked out your blog, and I LOVE "Our Philosophy" :)

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  5. Anonymous12.12.16

    I'm a Christian and think that we will do the whole Santa thing... I did it as a kid and loved it! Our family is not materialistic. We always got one or two toys from Santa and that was it... I know of people who don't do Santa and still have presents galore at Christmas time... I'm not sure you can blame too many presents on Santa... since he isn't real! ;)

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    1. You're right, you can still make Christmas totally materialistic even without Santa! I think as Christians we need to pray about how we celebrate Jesus' coming, but we may not all end up with the same conclusion, and that's OK :)

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  6. Love this post... we've never done Santa either for every single reason you've mentioned, but I could never say it so well, so thank you for this post! Have a blessed Christmas and thanks for blogging your passions, convictions and thoughts. Your words always bless me!

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    1. aw, thank you Renee!
      Merry Christmas to you and yours :)

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  7. We don't do Santa either. Honestly, we didn't put much thought into it at the time. We just never brought him into the conversation and then our kids saw an episode of Paw Patrol that Santa was on. And they just assumed he was pretend like Paw Patrol - or just on TV - like Paw Patrol. Our family's don't stress Santa and the gifts they get they know are from mom and dad, or grandma and grandpa.

    Dave and I never even discussed it honestly. I am just super thankful how the Lord worked that out that we never even had to make it a conscious decision or a confusing time for our kids. That paw patrol episode was an unexpected blessing ;)

    Kirsten

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