Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Great Santa Debate

I have been struggling with the whole Santa issue for a while now. I mean, for years…before Eli was even thought about.
The whole issue is whether to introduce your children to Santa or not. I know of families that just don’t acknowledge Santa, ones that flat-out tell their children there is no Santa, and a mix of families that struggle to find a happy medium between reindeer and a manger.
Chris and I had the discussion last Christmas…it was tabled. We have had brief conversations about it this year, but really neither one of us can come up with a resolution. We know this is our last year of tabling the issue. Eli already knows what Santa looks like and that he says “Ho, Ho, Ho” but I don’t think he understands the connection between Santa, Christmas and gifts. I would love to hear what others have to say about the issue. I only personally know two families that tell their children from the get-go that Santa isn’t real.
My Issue:
*Please note, I realize that Christmas traditions can be seen as rooted as a Pagan holiday. The focus of this blog is not to tackle that issue, but really just the issue of Santa.
My issue with Santa is that I feel like it takes the center stage away from what I see as the most important reason for the season- the birth of Christ. Sure, families can talk about Jesus and the nativity, but come on, really, to kiddos, it is all about the gifts and that man in the red suit who will bring them what they want. Maybe I am underestimating children today, but I doubt it.
Now, if I could only focus on that one bit of reasoning, my decision would be made and we would never utter the word “Santa” in our house. But, it gets so much more complicated than that.
First, I don’t feel like it is my place or my right to ruin the idea of Santa for other little kids that Eli could mention it to. That is other parents’ place and issue to deal with; I would feel horrible to have that taken away from them because on my parenting decisions.
Second, this phase only last a few years. Children will realize soon enough that Santa, along with the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny and every other marketing scheme that someone came up with is a fraud. Should I really be that concerned about my children focusing on Santa for a few years? Chris leans toward the thought that Santa was a Saint and gave to the needy and that whole jazz…and incorporating those principles instead of the whole marketing cynicism…
Third, if I deny Santa in my house, I can’t justify the Easter Bunny or dressing my kids up for Halloween. Now, Chris and I are pretty much set on the idea that the Easter Bunny will not make an appearance at our house. However, the whole issue of Halloween is extremely hard for me not give into. Bottom line: How can I seem so “devout” and convicted on the issue of Santa but still send my kiddos Trick-or-Treating dressed up in costumes on a truly pagan holiday? One that I can’t seem to justify at all aside from the fact that Eli has looked adorable in the two costumes that we have put him in since his birth!
I know someone whose parents didn’t let him dress up for Halloween when he was a kid. It was their church that encouraged the action…years later, they don’t follow that standard any more. All of his older brothers were allowed to dress-up and go Trick-or-Treating, while when his turn came, his parents fell under the influence of that principle of that church at that particular time. Not to sound overly dramatic, but it really still affects him today. It makes me sad to think that Eli might still be hurt by my actions years later. I don’t want to go into many details, but it is an issue that this man still deals with in many ways.
I can just imagine what the ramifications would have been like for a kid growing up, having to explain why they weren’t dressed up, why they weren’t going Trick-or-Treating…it might just be the same for a little kid explaining why he wouldn’t write a letter to Santa in class or never knew what to say to people when they asked him what he wanted Santa to bring him Christmas morning.
However, aren’t we called to be salt? Aren’t we called to be different than the world? Who said that it would be easy for us, or our kids? Would that make their convictions stronger or would they shrink under the pressure of society.
I know that there are many differing views on this subject. I know plenty of what I consider godly families that teach their children to believe in Santa. Let me clarify- I don’t think that everyone who believes in Santa is going to hell. To me, it is just one more idea that we justify that makes us look like every other family out there. It seems like it is an ever-growing list of compromises that we are making, down-playing our faith. Don’t get me started on TV or clothing or any of the other million issues that Christian families have to tackle with their children. Is there anything wrong with the principle of Santa? No. My issues stem from Santa stealing the focus of the “Reason for the Season”.
Well, I digress. Please, I don’t need the hate mail. I know this is an extremely touchy subject. I am just looking for honest insight. Really, we are just struggling to find our way in this whole new jungle of “How to Raise Children”. Honestly, we are at a stand-still on this issue.