Tuesday, December 22, 2009

To Santa or Not To Santa?

This is the question we, and many other young families I know, are asking ourselves this Christmas- should we "do" Santa or not?  There are a lot of solid Christians on both sides of this issue, and it is a personal decision for every family.

I recently found a thought-provoking article by Thabiti Anyabwile explaining why Santa is not a part of his family's Christmas.  You can read it here. I particularly like his response to this common objection:
A fair number of parents have, almost in panic, expressed concern that should there be no Santa Claus their children would not have fun at Christmas...  No doubt Christmas is fun. Even as parents, we get great delight from seeing our children's faces as they rummage through the boxes and gifts. But the implication here is that Christmas without the trappings, Christmas exclusively focused on the birth of the Savior, is boring. The argument implies that there is no anticipation associated with awaiting the celebration of Jesus' incarnation.

He also, in another article, gives some tips for parents who choose not to do Santa on how to equip their children to answer the inevitable question, "What is Santa going to bring you this year?"

One very important point that Thabiti makes for those of us who choose not to do Santa, is that it must ALL be done in a spirit of humility.  How easy would it be to look at other families who do believe in Santa and decide we are more holy than they are?  That is just not true.  I know plenty of wonderful Christians who do Santa with their children.  And I have already noticed in trying to explain why we are choosing not to do Santa, it's VERY difficult to do so without sounding self-righteous.  And honestly, even the most humble attempts will still put some people on the defensive.

To sum up the foundation of why we are not doing Santa, I quote one of Thabiti's Q&A that he gives in the second article:
Q: "What's wrong with believing in Santa?"

Ans: "Others can.  But I think it's better to believe in real things that are wonderful and beautiful, like Jesus."

ETA: I just found a really good video on youtube of John Piper preaching about the story of Santa vs. the Gospel of Jesus.  Watch it here.


  1. Honey, I would just like to add to your post the most significant reason in my mind for making our decision. When "doing" Santa, Christmas too easily becomes Jesus "and Santa" or probably better stated in the minds of many as "Santa and" Jesus. I don't want to teach our children that it is okay to have Jesus "and" anything. Jesus is a jealous Savior. It is either him and him alone or not having him. You can't mix your devotion to Jesus with anything else and be pleasing to God (cf. Matt 7; Mark 10:17-31, etc.).

    Like you said, this is a personal decision, and I know families who think that they can keep Christmas focused completely on Christ and do Santa. I think that is just too difficult for our family.

    Of course, we can't prevent our children from having idolatrous lusts in their hearts for the "stuff" they will get on Christmas. Our children are sinners. They will lust for stuff more than they desire Jesus. I simply don't want to approve of that behavior by exalting Santa. If others believe they can do Santa and not approve of this lust for things, then let them do Santa, but I don't see how we can.

    Let our Christmases be "Christ Alone"
    -Your Husband

  2. Our family does not make a big deal of Santa. We've never tried to persuade our children that Santa is real, but we also don't look down on anyone else who does. Our focus has always been on Jesus at Christmas because it's a celebration of his birth. If anyone asks our kids what Santa brought them, they just talk about gifts they received without bringing up the issue of where they came from. That's what other people really want to know anyway. Occasionally when our children were younger, they have astonished other adults by declaring "Santa isn't real." But even then we didn't try to justify ourselves. Why should we?

  3. To add our thoughts: My husband and I have chosen to not "do" Santa. If we paint a picture of a being who is omnibenevolent, and omniscient, only to inform them later it was untrue, how can we expect our children to believe us when we teach them of God (who happens to be omnibenevolent and omniscient)?