My parents felt strongly about not lying to us especially as trusting children. We always knew that Dad was Santa, and we still have very happy memories of Christmas.
I feel that the way my mother handled Santa, Jesus and Christmas giving was well done and I followed her example with my children. I was second in the family and believed in Santa until I was about 6 years old. We were also encouraged to get presents for our brothers and sisters and the gift was to be a secret. Then I figured out that it didn't make sense for one man to fly around the world and visit every good child in one night and reindeers can't fly. I asked my mom "Is Santa real" and she said yes. I kept asking her and she finally said that Santa was a real man that lived a long time ago and gave gifts to everybody, so now Santa is the Spirit of Giving and that is very real. I knew that she was telling me the truth but was feeling sad. She said, "Would you like to play Santa with Dad and I on Christmas eve.?" I was so excited, especially when they let me in on the secrets of some of the Gifts from Santa for the younger children as they we preparing them. She also let me stay up on Christmas Eve to fill the stockings and help put out presents. Also, on Christmas eve we read from the Bible and acted out the nativity and talked about the mission of Jesus on a child's level. I never thought to ask, "Is Jesus real?", because it made sense and my parents had already helped me gain a Testimony of Him. We also learned about Jesus in Sunday School and Primary. He wasn't just spoken of once a year but part of every day as we spoke of Him and prayed to our Heavenly Father in His name.
This is precisely what we have done in our family but have actually moved Santa Claus and all his jolly traditions to the original day he was honored, December 6th.
Our children know that he died over 1000 years ago but we still celebrate him on December 6th. We have a lot of Santa Fun and then for the rest of December it is all about Christ. It has made for a beautiful and sacred Christmas morning at our house!
Thanks to you, Mom of 9, for a discussion of the real Santa Claus dilemma. I was 19 years old, as a missionary, when I was asked to be the santa at a church christmas party. Sure, why not! Then they brought the children to sit at my feet and on my lap, and these little children worshiped me! I was struck by the irony (and horror) of how I was acting out the perfect counterfeit of Jesus, magic powers and all.
Years later as a father, I told my children the truth. Then with a clear conscience, I enjoyed celebrating Jesus birth with my sweet family with a wonderful appropriate celebration which included great fun and excitement for all. I am now an old man, but I have always been glad that I have not spent my life trying to balance the two opposite representations of Christmas.
As the kids got older, I told told them the true story of Saint Nicholas in Turkey, how he gave gifts to the orphans and poor, that he was a good man. Then after he passed away, others wanted to continue helping the less fortuinate. How it came to corresponded with the winter solstice, and became popular from "The Night before Christmas poem, and the Coca-Cola drawings.
I would also explain about Christmas trees (evergreens), Bells (on sheep), Candy canes (shepard staffs0, etc.
Amen to the Mom of 9
A lie is still a lie no matter how you present it . the idea of santa represents what the adversary's idea of his plan of salvation was for us.
As I think of the Savior in unbearable pain, bleeding from every pore, taking on all of our sins & sorrows in the garden & then crucified for all of us & what it must have been like for Heavenly Father to see his only begotten Son go through that for us.. I too have omitted any form of santa in my Christmas celebrations ,
That's precisely why we never told our children that Santa was real. We still had all the fun of the Santa tradition, hung stockings and even left food out for him, but the children always knew it was just a bit of Christmas fun. They knew that the presents they received came from family members who had thought about them and saved up to buy them a gift. This was so important to us.
Of course, children never ever get to see the 'real' Santa as he traditionally only ever comes when they're asleep and so I didn't want them to grow up and discover that Santa was not real, and then have them doubt the fact that Heavenly Father and Jesus are real because they can't see them either. I think it's something that needs to be handled with care.
Excellent article. Must read for devout Christians, especially in the western world.
As an elementary school librarian, each year I read Chris Van Allsburg's "Polar Express" to the children. I then ask the children which of them had ever heard that Santa is not real. Then, asking for a show of hands, I ask them which one of them enjoys making others happy, helping others, giving gifts to others, etc. Once every hand in the classroom shoots up, I then tell the children: "Each and every one of you is Santa Claus, because Santa Claus is the spirit of goodness and giving, and each of you has shown that you like to be kind to others and help and give good things to others." (The teachers always gave a sigh of relief at the answer to my question--I think they are worried that I will say that Santa isn't real!) I use this response because this is how my parents taught my brothers and I the difference between the real and the imaginary parts of Santa. Older children may even enjoy hearing how Santa got started (he was a 4th century Catholic bishop credited for his kindness to children and for performing many miracles).
When I was a child I worked very hard to reconcile the "facts" of Santa and Jesus. I decided that Santa had a form of the priesthood, since I knew at the tender age of 7 that magic wasn't real. When my mom told me Santa wasn't real, my very next thought was, "Then Jesus isn't real, either."
It took me a few years to restore my faith. For that reason, we never do Santa with our kids. We don't visit him, or write him letters. We do, however, do "secret Santa" where we give gifts to each other and neighbors in the spirit of Santa.
I also always felt betrayed that my parents so elaborately lied to me, and many friends have confided that they also felt guilty that they lied about Santa. I want my children to know that I will NEVER lead them astray, and that they can trust me implicitly for the truth of all things.
Our Christmas is filled with "magic," and it's all the better because our children know that love and sacrifice go into their gifts, not random magic. The power of the priesthood and atoning sacrifice is much more worthy of celebrating than a myth.
Okay so many of you may not like my comment but please think about this... what does Heavenly Father tell us about worshiping false gods. The plan of salvation between the adversary & Christ, one wanted all the credit & praise For God so loved the world that he sent his ONLY Begotten son.. Seeing your son in unimaginable pain, bleeding from every pore to save us & then being crucified. How would you feel if you were that Father about us if we must make up this "myth" or can we just call it a lie,. kids will be fine without Santa:, we cannot serve 2 masters. Maybe it's time to rethink why we do what we do
I was maybe 6 years old when I worked out for myself that Father Christmas (or Santa Claus if you prefer) was a myth. My mother did me the great service of confirming this, thus allowing me to realize at a young age the much more important truth of Christ's birth. She did not shatter a childhood dream because I had already worked out the truth for myself. So it annoys me no end when in Priesthood meeting, for example, when there are only adults in the room, I get jumped on for suggesting that he is a myth. And this has happened to me in several different places both in the UK and the US. So far as the article itself is concerned, though, I see no need to use the euphemisms of real-imaginary and real-real. If you're going to do that just use imaginary and real, but ideally do so at a time when the children are trying to work such things out on their own.
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