I love Christmas. I have a Christmas tree and stockings and traditions and lights and all that other Christmas-y stuff. I even have a Santa here and there around the house at this time of year. I don’t mind that the celebration for Jesus’ birthday has all these things added onto it. As long as we remember the reason for the season, and as long as that’s not co opted by extraneous negative stuff, it’s okay with me.
However, there’s one Christmas tradition I’ve never taken part in: I’ve never convinced my kids that there is a Jolly Old Elf that magically flies across the sky and brings them presents on Christmas Eve. I have told them from the beginning that Santa Claus is fiction. We joke about it, and I call the UPS man Santa Claus since I do most of our Christmas shopping online. I teach my kids that St. Nicholas of Myra is a historical figure coming from what is now Turkey. They don’t expect gifts to magically appear under the tree out of thin air. They know that I do the shopping, and that I have a budget, and they hand their Christmas lists directly to me.
They seem to be surviving just fine, and I see no signs that they’ll be scarred for life. My husband and I were both raised this same way and I think we’re both okay in the mental health department.
But why not indulge the fantasy? Why not have a little fun and let them believe in something fun and friendly and magical? Why not?
The answer is because at some point all Santa-believing children realize that the magic isn’t real. Whether it happens when they see Mommy kissing Santa Claus or when they find the presents from Santa hidden away in the closet on December 15, they will have a moment of truth when the fantasy crashes down around them.
You see, I want my kids to trust me. I want them to believe what I say. But mainly, I want them to believe me when I tell them that there is a REAL miracle worker. The story of Jesus, the God of all creation, come to Earth to save my soul, is absolutely true. My God has power above all others, He really does give good gifts to his children, and He is all places at all times. I don’t want them to think He is a myth just like Santa or the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy.
So at our house the kids write out Christmas lists, hand them to me, stay away from the basement while I’m Christmas shopping online, and wait for the UPS man to bring the Amazon boxes to our front door. They know I wrap them and they appreciate the gifts and the givers.
Because the true magic of Christmas has nothing to do with a fat man in a red suit. The true magic of Christmas is that the God of all creation was born a human and gave us the best gift anyone could ever give: the gift of salvation. And I want my children to believe that forever.