Christmas is coming and two words are heard in every home: Santa Claus. Hopefully “Baby Jesus” is also heard in many homes, but sadly apart from church and individual households, these words are not as advertised as the jolly old dude in red duds. I have never told my three-year-old son “Santa is watching” (though I threaten him with “Jesus is watching” sometimes) or asked him what he wanted from Santa, yet he knows who Santa is and sings “Santa Claus is coming to town.”
I don’t mind if my son likes Santa, or even believes in him, but I don’t emphasize Santa in our home. The fact that cartoons, commercials, and comments of others have taught him about Santa proves how much influence outside sources have on our children. That’s why it is important for parents to have a stronger voice and influence than the world. If something as harmless as Santa can impact a three year old, imagine how political and moral agendas can sway older children.
The history of Santa dates back to a monk named St. Nicholas. According to the History Channel online, he lived in what is now Turkey and “became known as the protector of children and sailors.” This man’s story spun off many traditions all over the world of gift giving to children, leading to the popularity of Santa Claus in the 1800s.
What started as admiration for a man who helped the poor and needy turned into a way to bribe misbehaving kids who are spoiled and greedy. This is not to say that Santa is not fun for kids and that they shouldn’t get to enjoy the tradition. But it is to say that Santa should not take precedence over the true meaning of Christmas: Jesus’ birth. Also, I think we as parents should be careful with our words. If our kids act badly and don’t do A, B and C like asked, would we really not let “Santa” bring them gifts?
I have never told my three-year-old son “Santa is watching” (though I threaten him with “Jesus is watching” sometimes) or asked him what he wanted from Santa, yet he knows who Santa is and sings “Santa Claus is coming to town.”
I have heard various viewpoints on Santa Claus, just like with Halloween, from one extreme to the other. One family I know has a very strict “no Santa” policy in their home for fear that as their children grow older they will one day question if Jesus was a lie like Santa. Others go all out with cookies, pictures, letters, and the whole shebang. Then there’s the addition of Elf on the Shelf that adds a whole other level to “Santa is watching.”
So how does this play out in my family? Well, my son did get a picture with Santa this year for the first time since he was two months old. He always had an option (after that first year because his reindeer outfit was too cute not to document), but usually was way more interested in the train and fake deer decorations. My mom took him to the mall, and he visited Santa this time. I was pleased to hear how he obviously views Santa as a Christmas character and not a fairy godmother that watches his behavior.
My mom said he wanted to sit beside Santa rather than in his lap. When asked about presents, he told Santa what his parents and grandparents were buying him. (This made me especially proud, since I’m not a fan of letting some fictional fat guy take credit for what we buy with our hard-earned money.) Mom said he spent a good five minutes talking about Rudolph and asking Santa about the “udder deers.” Lane told me he wanted to “leave cookies and milk for Rudolph” so we will do that. Though all of his presents will say “from Mama and Daddy” (or maybe even the dog and his newborn sister to promote his being nice to them).