Dec 6, 2014

The Great Santa Debate

The Great Santa Debate
Resolving Santa in 5 simple steps

I love Santa, and our family celebrates Christmas with Santa as a central figure, but not THE central figure of Christmas.

Trends in parenting come and go, and when I had my children many a moon ago, the current “parental discussion” about Santa was that parents should not lie to their children, even if it is about Santa.  Many parents at the time decided that the trend of “truth in parenting” should include Santa. Some Christian families I am friends with have also asked how I resolve “Santa” in our home, feeling that Santa is a secular symbol of Christmas.

Christmas is centuries old and full of different traditions and celebrations, and each family has traditions that are unique to them. I grew up with the tradition of Santa and also happen to love the tradition of Santa.  The wonder, the magic, the awe and  imagination.  But most of all, with three young toddlers, I was NOT and I mean NOT giving up the good and naughty list.

BUT, it did give me pause and cause me to think and ask “How would I raise my children with regards to believing in Santa?”

You see, I did not want to lie to them but I also did not want to take away the childhood wonder and magic of Santa.  But, upon reflection I realized that what I truly wanted to GIVE them was something they could hold onto for their whole lives.  I wanted to give them the JOY and LOVE of Christmas.  I wanted to teach them what Christmas really meant to me, in my heart, and how to carry that love all year long and NOT just at Christmas time.  I wanted to give them a smooth transition from the Santa of childhood to the Santa of adulthood and what that all means.

So I launched project St. Nicholas.  I researched and read about St. Nicholas and decided that this would be my transition, my reason for Santa in our home.

St. Nicholas, (and this is brief) was a man who dedicated his life to living in honor of Jesus.  He was orphaned at a young age, and gave his inheritance to those in need.  His generosity and love of children is what inspired him to be the first “Santa Claus”.  

This way I am not lying to my children, they are learning history, generosity, acts of service and why we celebrate the birth of Jesus, and why St. Nicholas honored Jesus by giving gifts to the poor.

Here is how I did it in 5 simple steps.

  1. Santa is a nickname for St. Nicholas:  pretty simple right?  Kids get nicknames and love nicknames.  They have a million nicknames for each other and can relate very quickly. This is easy.

  1. Who is St. Nicholas:   This one is fun because when the kids were little we kept it simple.  St. Nicholas was a man who lived a LONG time ago who loved Jesus and children so much he wanted to help people and gave them gifts in secret.   Kind of like “Secret Santa”.  Most kids get that really quick, so be warned this can lead to giggles, little knocks, running footsteps and opening your bedroom door many, many, many times to toys wrapped in blankets.

  1. Acts of St. Nicholas:  Many families during the holiday season adopt a family or do acts of charity for others.  We started participating in these types of charities.  We would go shopping for toys-for-tots or adopt-a-family drives.  When we were shopping, I would explain we were acting as St. Nicholas would and buying gifts for those in need in “secret”.  This has been a tradition we have been able to carry forward each year.

  1. Beyond the Magic of St. Nicholas:  As the children became older we moved to the fact that St. Nicholas was a real person who lived over a thousand years ago. Now, we as living examples of Christ and need to carry on his St. Nicholas' love of Jesus by acting as “Santa” for other people and giving them the “Magic” of Christmas.

  1. St. Nicholas through the whole year:  What we learned when I researched St. Nicholas is that he celebrated Christ’s birthday by giving gifts to poor children, but also he celebrated Christ’s love and lessons on a regular basis through daily acts of kindness and charity.  

I thought what a great way to extend the Joy of the Christmas all year long.  As a family, we give and talk about the secret gifts we can give others beyond Christmas.  These can be as simple as opening a door for someone or donating food for a food bank.  But, these are “gifts” we give all year long.  

So Santa, aka St. Nicholas, is big in our house. Santa is Big for the little ones, and he is BIG for the adults and as a way to “Believe” because to be a person of Magic and Love for Others, is the greatest gift of all.

Happy St. Nicholas day!
For further information on St. Nicholas below is a great website:

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