Today, many children - even children of Christian families - will be getting up to see what gifts "Santa" has brought them. We never misled our children about the myths of Santa. It didn't have anything to do with whether it was right or wrong to celebrate Christmas; we just couldn't justify lying to our children.
I can remember finding out that Santa was not real at around age 6. I had gone to my mother's room and was sitting on her bed watching the typical Christmas shows (i.e. Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, etc.). Also on the bed - unbeknownst to me - were some of the things "Santa" was going to give me in the morning. I had seen the Toys R'Us bag and the items in them, but just didn't think much of it. Mom was wrapping presents for the family and maybe those were just some of them. My focus was on my shows.
However, when my Mom came in and saw me, she became quite excited and quickly pulled the things off of the bed. Again, I paid no attention as my focus was on the TV. Then, the next morning, I saw all of those items under the tree marked as things that "Santa" had given.
As the realization hit me, I looked at my Mom and shouted, "These aren't from Santa! I saw these in the Toys R'Us bag on your bed!" "No you didn't.", my Mom insisted, "Those are from Santa."
"Then how did Santa get in our apartment? We don't have a chimney?" I asked. "Santa also has a key for every apartment." my Mom replied.
That one stumped me for a minute. Then, as I looked more closely at one of the items (a candy cane filled with M&Ms), I noticed the remnants of a Toys R'Us tag and knew. I then asked, "So does Santa Claus shop at Toys R'Us?!" My Mom didn't have a response for that one except to say, "Just open your gifts!"
I did just that; proceeded to open my gifts. However, in the back of my mind, I was really disappointed and wondered why she had lied to me. I am being completely honest when I tell you that at that very moment, everything she had ever told me became suspect. If she had lied about this, then what else had she lied about? What else was I believing which was not true?
Many parents seem to protect the myth of Santa Claus like they are preserving some time of innocence or belief in the impossible for their children. Yet, I wonder if such parents ever consider the impact of this decision to knowingly and repeatedly lie to their children? Do they think the children will look back on this time with fondness and joy? I didn't. The lessons I learned - at the age of 6 - in realizing that Santa was not real were:
- People I loved would lie to me when it suited their purposes
- Lying was okay as long as the motives were "good"
|Children will remember what we have told|
them about Jesus upon realizing that
Santa is not real...and it will cause them
to wonder if belief in Jesus is
just as much a myth as Santa.
situational ethics: a Christian ethical theory that was principally developed in the 1960s by the then Episcopal priest Joseph Fletcher. It basically states that sometimes other moral principles can be cast aside in certain situations if love is best served. As long as Love is your intention, the end justifies the means. In Fletcher's mind, situational ethics validated his support of both euthanasia and abortion.If we have not honored the word of God in our lives (even in so simple a thing as not encouraging our children to believe a lie), then nothing we tell them about Christ will matter. The most such will produce is religious hypocrites who confess faith with their mouths, but in their deeds deny Him. They may even grow up to be Christians, but it will be in spite of our example and not because of it.
I do not mean to come down heavy on those who continue to propagate these lies to their children. I simply see the pervasiveness of the 'Santa myth' as one of Satan's earliest attacks against children ascribing to true faith in God. Teaching children that lying is okay, that their parents are liars, and that faith is not based in reality does more to discount a witness for Christ than most anything else for parents are called to rear their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Are we just Christians in name only: going to Church regularly and saying all the right Churchy phrases? Or, do we really believe? Do we really believe that we must live as God says we are to live? Do we really believe that we are to live after the Spirit and not the flesh? Do we really believe that we must not love the world and neither that which is in the world? Do we really believe that all liars will find their place in Hell?
More important than the issue of Santa Claus, remember that children see a lot more than that for which we give them credit. They can see hypocrisy very easily. What is the governing authority in our homes? Is it family tradition, the ways of the world, or the word of God?