I was recently talking to an eight-year-old who worried that if I didn’t turn off my gas fireplace, Santa would not be able to come down and give us presents.
I told him we turn it off at night.
I had to bite my tongue, though.
Not everyone will agree with this, but my wife and I decided to never lie to our kids. I tell them: “I will never lie to you, and I expect you to never lie to me.” Well, most parents would agree with that policy. But they would not agree with how that applies to talking about Santa.
Practically speaking, when my kids ask a question, I give them the factual, scientific, explanation, to the best of my knowledge. If I don’t have an answer, I sit down with my kids and Google it.
The issue of Santa has come up. What can I say about him? I told them the truth. “The Santa we met is an employee of Home Depot dressed up in a suit. The real Santa Claus, named Nicholas, was a 4th century Bishop who helped defend the Trinity, but he died a long time ago. We celebrate Christmas because we remember the time when God became a baby named Jesus, who came into the world to save believers. We give gifts to celebrate Jesus’ birthday, not because of Santa Claus.”
I know some, even many, parents will think that is wrong. They will say I am robbing my kids of a magical childhood. I fully admit that I am. I don’t want my kids to have a magical childhood.
Many children in society grow up with Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny, and Jesus, all in one conceptual package. And when they realize the magic isn’t real, they throw out baby Jesus with the bathwater.
I don’t want my kids to have a magical childhood. But I do want it to be full of wonder. I think the truth about Jesus’ incarnation is far more wonderful than stories about Santa.