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Monday Morning Parenting: What We Teach Our Children About Christmas

Monday, November 30, 2009

Santa Claus 1
By Jogytmathew (Own work) [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
Last week was Christ the King Sunday. Our pastor challenged us to think about what is not Christmas, so I blurted out "Santa!" Before I continue, let me note that our church is very interactive, and we discuss the scripture as a group. It's a very spiritually empowering experience! Now back to last Sunday...because I know you are wondering what's my beef with jolly, Saint Nick. It started two years ago when a family friend asked Damon for help assembling a regulation-size basketball hoop he bought for his son. The two of them spent five hours putting that hoop together and Santa got the credit on Christmas morning!
So last Sunday, I offered up the beloved Santa Claus as an example of the anti-Christmas because he has become synonymous with the deconstruction and complete commercialism of the holiday season.
Santa is competing with Jesus Christ for our attention, and Santa is winning! Christmas has been hijacked by the big box retailers and most of us worshiped Black Friday this weekend rather than the beginning of advent. Watching the news coverage of consumers lined up outside of stores at 3:00 am to purchase this year's must-have toy kind of made me sad and made me think about what we will teach Marlie about Christmas when she gets older. I enjoy the Christmas traditions of decorating a tree, exchanging gifts, and a big family dinner as much as the next Christian, but you have to agree that we have lost much of the spirit of season. How do we reclaim Christmas as a holy day while celebrating it as a holiday? Is it even possible to strike a balance? What do you teach your child(ren) about Christmas? If you are atheist, agnostic, Muslim, Jewish, etc...I want to hear from you, too!


Amy @ Six Flower Mom said...

Funny I am working on a post about this too! For a number of years my family has struggled with Christmas and its lack of meaning ... this year we will be reverting to ancient times and celebrating the 12 days of yule! I will post more about it soon!

Kimberly Grabinski said...

In my family (when I was a kid) we always went to church on Christmas eve, went out for pizza, then came home to wait for Santa. For me, Christ wasn't lost in it all, but the magic and mystery of Santa helped make me more aware of the true meaning of Christmas by "setting the tone". Santa isn't a part of kids lives for very long, but when they are small and can't fully understand Christ, Santa makes this time of year special for them from the get-go.

Christmas is about celebrating and honoring the birth of Jesus, but I also think it is about family, helping others, and remembering all the special people in your life, Christ as #1.

I agree that the world has become way too commercialized, but I also believe that Santa can exist within a Christ centered Christmas, and stand as an example for kids in a form they can understand. But it is up to us as parents to make the transition when Santa is no longer magical for our children. One thing remains for me, this time of year will ALWAYS be magical, and it's not because of Santa.

So Santa will visit this year, AND get credit for the Nintendo DS my son will have under the tree. But it is teaching him to trust in someone that he does not see, and while a toy is not the most important thing in life, for a child, especially one who has waited over a year for that DS (he asked Santa last year and didn't get it), I do believe that we can use Santa to teach him about Christ and effectively transition him to a Christ centered Christmas as he outgrows Santa - retaining the magic.

Betty Manousos said...

Christmas is such a lovely season.
Sweet and beautiful. Celebrating Christmas with family is superb.
I don't like to travel this season
and i haven't done it so far.
lots of love
hugs hugs

Unknown said...

@ AccidentalMommy: thanks for sharing your POV! You make some very good points, especially about how Santa can exist within a Christ centered Christmas and how you use Santa to help teach your child to trust in someone that he does not see. I'm not sure what role, if any, Santa will play in our celebration of Christmas when Marlie gets older. If she's like me when I was a little girl, she won't buy the fairy tale of Santa bringing Christmas gifts and our problem is solved before it even exists.

@ Six Flower Mom: I look forward to reading your post about going back to the old traditions of Christmas!

The Redhead Riter said...

I have a surprise for you at


Busted Kate said...

Ack! That picture is scary! :-)

Serenityville said...

I am agnostic and childless...and drink like a fish, smoke like a chimney, and swear like a sailor. No, only the first two are true, but I feel like a degenerate after writing the first two in response to your post! The consumerism that has come to define Christmas is disgusting, if one takes the time to think about it, and thank you for doing so.
The abuse of the holiday, the exploitation of the value of giving, is not something we want children to partake in. We'd rather they learn the value behind the traditions - appreciation, giving, sharing, and family. And if I ever have kids I will not tell them there's a Santa - I believe that deception only adds to the mischaracterization of the real beauty of Christmas.

lemonologie said...

Amen to this post!

My daughter is just a baby, but we still talk to her about Jesus being the reason for the season. We have a little nativity book that we read to her. I know that as she gets older, it's only going to be harder to keep her focus on the true importance of the holiday season.

When did I become my Mom said...

You know, we keep the mystery of Santa alive at our house, but we focus on the qualities of goodness, unselfishness, and justice. We also light the advent candles and reflect and pray, and all in all we try to keep the focus on the SPIRIT of the season - love and sharing.

It can be really hard... especially when the families of our boys' friends don't do the same.

One family (neighbourkids) seems to obsess about material things. Every other day the kids have a new toy, and the other day the mother dismantled their huge newly decorated tree because she got a deal to buy a new bigger one at 50% off.

Her son came down to play with my boys and stood staring at my tiny old tree decorated with my boys' handmade decorations.

After a while he said quietly "I like this tree more."

It's possible to get carried away with wanting to give your kids the best. But that should always be in sync with the "Sunday values" we try to teach them. The 2 can't be in competition.

Sorry to have rambled! Great post!

Anonymous said...

We don't teach our children about Santa. We tell them about the background of Christmas traditions and where they came from. Children are very intelligent and I'm sure the majority of them don't believe in Santa no matter what their parents say. I don't tell them about Santa because it's not true and we teach them not to lie to us, so why lie to them? They can seriously handle the truth.

My best, Lynn

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