Don't make Santa the enemy to your family's "Jesus" Christmas. Leverage Santa instead.
(Part 2 of 2)
Take a look around. Even in some of the most unexpected parts of the world – a market in Jewish Israel, a shopping center in Buddhist Thailand, even a public square in central Cairo – you can find him this season. Who is this mysterious man?
Santa, of course!
The global spread of American commercialism over the last century has made Santa a ubiquitous figure around the end of the year. He's just everywhere! What do you do about this if you want to emphasize Jesus in your Christmas celebrations with your children?
I contend: Don't leave out Santa! Find the ways Santa fits in context. Start by taking a look at this article (from a few days earlier) to see how you can make the connections. (Don't skip this step!)
Then, move on here.
Santa has become Christmas. But don't confuse your children, either.
There are some key distinctions you need to make for your kids. You must subtly, lovingly, and with the right intention make these differences clear to your young children.
Here are three important ideas to keep in mind as you interact with your young children this Christmas:
1 | Santa is everywhere (at Christmas). But Jesus is everywhere all the time. In this sense, help your young kids come to see how Jesus is 24/7, year-round, for a lifetime. Santa, for all his jolly goodness, is just not around most of the year. He’s distant and far away, doing his thing up in the North Pole. He’s not really active nor accessible most of the year.
2 | Santa’s gifts are temporary. Let me ask you this: Do you still treasure the gift(s) you got from Santa as a six-year-old? How about as a 12 year-old? Do you even remember them? Honestly, I sure don't.
But, if you are a Christ-follower, you likely remember when Jesus became your gift. And, if you were raised believing in Jesus, you might not remember the actual moment when Jesus became your gift. But you will recall the moment when you, as an older child or adult, really grasped that truth.
3 | Santa rewards solely based upon behavior. After all “He's making a list and checking it twice, [He’s] gonna find out who's naughty and nice,” right? In other words, the onus is on you. Even from the earliest age. You hit your little sister? Well, then, you get a “naughty” mark (and maybe one less gift). The “Santa system” is one of rewards and punishments (prevalent in our society and the world at large.)
But Jesus offers an entirely different system. Jesus says, “I know you can’t. I know you’ll screw up. You just can’t be 100% perfectly good – or ‘nice.’ Yes, you will be ‘naughty’ sometimes. That’s why I’ve made a way to receive the ultimate gift (eternal life through believing and following me). I’m your fall guy. I’ll take the blame because I love you.”
Note please: This is not license. Read Romans 6:1-2 in the New Testament: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”)
It sets up quite a different system.
Emphasize Jesus, yes. But don’t leave Santa completely out of the picture.
Doing this will make your children resent you. They’ll see it all around them in the culture, and they’ll feel left out – and possibly deprived. Learn how to weave Jesus into the Santa story (and vice versa).
For example, when you're putting out those special cookies for Santa to eat, remind your kids how Jesus loves it when we give him our best and "treat" him!
By taking this approach, you communicate to your kids how much you really do love them. It will pay dividends in the end.
And have fun with it! Santa and Jesus really aren’t mutually exclusive. You can be creative and raise your kids with a healthy understanding of both!
Can you share ways you have successfully navigated the various "stories" of Christmas with your kids? Help us learn!
Make sure to download our short but helpful guide making this the best Christmas yet!
Image credit: Stencil
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