Life, Faith and Urban Farming

The life and happenings of an unconventional pastor and urban farmer living in the city with a family of five.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

An Open Santa Conversation

Maybe we were wrong, but here's why we told Teah that Santa was make-believe. This is part of a conversation that I had on Facebook. I decided to post it here so that everyone else who thinks we're horrible for not playing into the Santa story understand why we didn't.

Here's why we did what we did, basically there are two reasons.

1. From our perspective Santa has become a tool for consumerism in a culture drowning itself in the stuff we buy. Kids get so much and even expect so much in our culture that we thought Santa would serve as another reason for Teah to expect more stuff. Santa does not teach kids the joy of giving only getting. So we decided to tell Teah that Santa is a fun make-believe character in books and stories that we can pretend comes to our houses with presents, but the real presents come from Mommy and Daddy because we love her. The real joy for Teah this year truly came from her opportunity to give gifts to us, it was amazing how excited she was to buy each of us, including Micah, a gift from her. So, that's reason one why we did it, to teach her that the tradition of giving gifts at Christmas is about just that, GIVING gifts. Sure, she was very excited about the gift she got, but she knew she was getting them from those she loved and because we were also excited to make and buy her those gifts.

2. The whole Jesus thing. I think it's hard for kids to have parallel stories. We taught all about Jesus' birthday and even had a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas day.

That all said, I'm not against Santa. We're not fundamentalists saying Santa is Satan or anything. We respect those who disagree and think that the story of Santa is something to teach and believe in.

On the positive side, there have been great teaching opportunities that have been afforded by making Santa a minor story in Christmas. Santa is still a part as a story, like a princess story or Winnie the Pooh, but Teah knows the real story is about Jesus and the stories we're creating as a family through the gifts that we make and buy for one another. (Yes, we made most of our gifts, I wasn't about to tell her the table and chairs I made for her were actually made by elves, I worked long hours on those :)

On the negative side, Teah REALLY likes the Santa story and has said she wishes her were real. It's an example of how the story can take over Christmas for kids, they lose perspective and it becomes all about Santa. But, it is also a great imaginative and fun experience that is greatly decreased when kids know it's pretend. Even with that negative, I think our choice is a good option considering the nature of our culture. Maybe I am a bit of a fundamentalist... I'm fundamentally opposed to the hyper-consumerism that drives Christmas and much of the way that we live in America.

Sorry to write so much, that's why I took the conversation off of your walls and to your inbox. Didn't think everyone needed to see my essay! Hope you can understand and respect what we did.


Janel said...

Good thoughts, John. Here are some more great thoughts to ponder from this blog post ...

God's Child said...

Nice blog. Santa has taken so much away from why we even celebrate Christmas. My husband and I have decided to also not use Santa as part of our celebration for Jesus's birthday.

Sarah Louise said...

Good thoughts. And as a reader and writer, I don't think you should have to apologize for writing too much unless it is 400 pages and unedited.

Santa is a big part of my childhood so it's hard for me to not think he's a part of "the spirit of Christmas." But I respect what you're doing. We always had the stockings from Santa and one or two other things. I love the actual story of St. Nick, the original Saint.

What I love about you, John, is that you stick to your guns and really think about what you are doing. In case I haven't said it lately, you rock!