20 Dec, 2011

Santa and the Magic of Christmas

Every year around this time, a handful of parents ask me what I tell my own kids about Santa Claus.

I respect the traditions that parents set in place for their families, so in the back of my mind, I have a few lines prepared for what I would say to a child if they were to ask me at church whether or not Santa exists. In short, I would:

1. Gently remind the child that we celebrate Christmas because of Jesus.

2. Direct the child back to the parent to discuss the topic further. It’s a potential sticky situation. I’m prepared to navigate out of this conversation faster than a gazelle being chased by a cheetah. No Children’s Pastor wants to bash a child’s dream and a family’s tradition. I am  the biggest cheerleader for parents and I feel that each parent is able to  handle this topic with their own child in the best way.

So, what do we tell our kids about Santa?

When it comes to Santa, Jeremy and I decided that we would:

1. Teach our children about Saint Nicholas and how he loved and served people by giving generously.

2. Not tell them that Santa was keeping track of if they were naughty or nice.

3. Not mark presents as being from Santa or go to any length to pretend that he is active in our lives.

4. Tell our kids the truth. We decided not to make a big deal about it, but when they asked us whether or not Santa Claus delivers presents to our house, or how Santa could be at 2 different shopping centers in a matter of 30 minutes… we would refer back to the history of Saint Nicholas and tell them how this tradition became a part of our culture and say, “No, Santa will not be visiting us.”

They asked.

And we followed the plan. We told them the truth. Our two oldest were 4 and 7. They stood in our living room with slumped shoulders and tears gently rolling down their cheeks. They hoped that Santa was real and active in their lives today. They wished that the movies, commercials, and songs were right. They cried for a little while. Then, they shifted their focus to Christ and our celebration of Christmas continued. We didn’t bash Santa. We just gently told them the truth.

This year, our oldest daughter announced that she might still believe in Santa. That’s ok. Santa Claus is so much a part of our culture that it’s confusing for kids.  I listened for reindeer hooves on my roof for years growing up even though my parents told me the truth about Santa. We won’t make a big deal of it or “prove her wrong”. Instead, we’ll just turn all of our focus toward Jesus and continue to make our home a safe place to dream and ask questions.

We’ll focus on His “presence” not on our “presents”.


We want our kids to trust us in the small things.

We want our girls to know that they can trust us to give them a straight answer on the little things, so when they come to us with the bigger things later on, their hearts will trust us to tell them the truth.


The magic of Christmas…

I know that many families celebrate Santa for good reasons which include making fun memories and honoring long-standing family traditions. One of the biggest reasons for celebrating Santa is that parents want their children to feel that Christmas is a “magical” time. They want their kids to believe in things that are pure and good. Anything is possible at Christmas time.

And it’s true.

Christmas is amazing.

While we were still sinners… (Talk about naughty! Not deserving any sort of gift…)

God left Heaven.

He drew near to us

In the way that we could best approach Him.

Not as a demanding king,

But as a baby.

Fully God.

Fully man.

The God who gives us everything, including this very breath…

Gave Himself to us as a gift that we could never earn or deserve.

So that we can be reconciled with Him,

And live with Him,


Have you ever heard a better love story than that one? Is there really anything that can add to the unbelievable “magic” and mystery of Christmas? 

So while we tell our kids that Santa will not be visiting, we will spend our days with Emmanuel, God with us. He is not merely a visitor. He is the only one we can place all of our hope and trust in.


May your family experience the joy of the ever-present King this Christmas.


  • Love it Jen!

  • You are awesome. Can’t wait to run into at a local retailer soon! Merry Christmas.

So, what do you think?