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When I had my daughter, my husband and I decided there would be no Santa in our Christmas celebration. Neither of us had believed in Santa and I just didn’t want it mixing up our Jesus-is-born holiday.
I was pretty strict about it and basically didn’t say the word “Santa” for two years. Even when my daughter would point out Santa hats on people we’d say, “Oh, look! They have a Christmas hat!”. We didn’t even listen to “Santa Claus is Coming To Town” because I just didn’t want those words in her mind (“He sees you when you’re sleeping…he knows when you’re awake…”).
On my daughter’s 2nd Christmas, she saw a tall traditional, velvet-y, fur clad Santa statute at a store and pointed at it yelling, “Noah!!” As in “and the ark”. Yeah, I did a good job shielding her.
As she got a little older and we let her see Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and read The Night Before Christmas, we continued to push Santa as a fun, fictional character similar to Rudolph or Frosty or even Mickey Mouse.
One day on the way home from church when she was 3 she said to me, “I can’t wait for Christmas!”.
I said, “Me, too, baby! What made you say that?”
She replied, “Santa is going to come down our chimney and give us presents!”
I whipped around in my seat and said, “Who told you that?!”
She said, “My teacher at church said Santa comes down your chimney and gives you presents.”
I was dumbfounded. I looked at my husband with wide eyes and then back to my daughter and said, “That’s not true.”
I went on to explain who-knows-what about Santa but could not believe that in one second my daughter completely bought into the Santa story with a simple push from her teacher! I’m not blaming the teacher at all–she probably just said, “What’s Santa bringing you?” and got started on a conversation that my little girl had never heard before!
After this conversation, we started talking about the real Saint Nicholas and how his story morphed through the years. We’ve watched Veggie Tales’ Saint Nicholas and probably even read a book or two about the real guy. My kids (now 8 and 6) don’t believe in Santa and honestly are a little confused at kids who do.
I tell you this whole story (because I felt like I finally needed to get it out into the internet) but also because I’m not exactly sure the best way to tell your kids about Santa. My father-in-law says “for every mile of road, there are two miles of ditch”. And I think that’s how the Santa debate has been. There’s the group of people who pull off elaborate stunts to perpetuate a lie about a jolly man who comes down your chimney and the others who equate him to Satan.
Where is the balance and the real education–not skewed by tradition and personal feelings?
I think I found it.
Does that sound like crazy hyperbole? (I’VE FOUND THE ANSWER TO THE SANTA DILEMMA!!!)
If you’ve been around me for any amount of time you know I love What’s in the Bible?. They produce the most amazing (hilarious) DVDs that walk kids straight through the story of the whole Bible with real and rich details. It’s like a Bible college lesson rolled into a bite-sized piece for a kid.
Anywhoo, their Christmas DVD, Why Do We Call it Christmas? does the same thing with Christmas–addresses all the traditions and their histories. This year, Phil Vischer (creator of WITB and Veggie Tales) released a new picture book called, Why Do We Call It Christmas?.
At first, I thought it was going to be a simple paper-and-ink version of the DVD. In fact, it’s quite different and really really good.
In the book, Buck Denver (famous news anchor and star of all the What’s in the Bible? DVDs) is confused about Christmas because it seems to be two different holidays–the Jesus holiday at church and the Santa holiday at stores.
Buck’s friend, Sunday School Lady uses her magic flannelgraph (see how funny this is?!) to explain the word “Christmas”. She then begins the story of “Saint Nick” and how the Catholic Church gives certain people their own special day, like Saint Nicholas Day.
She then explains that Saint Nicholas Day is on December 6 and since Christmas is on December 25 and other churches didn’t always celebrate these special saint days–but they liked the traditions of them (hello! gifts left in stockings!) they just combined the two days. And bad-a-bing bad-a-boom we have our American Christmas traditions.
So. If you’re familiar with the Santa story, this might not seem like new information. It’s not the Santa-background that’s so great in this book. I know lots of people that celebrate Saint Nicholas Day. I’ve read all the books that tell Saint Nicholas’ true story. Instead, this book gives the explanation of WHY we celebrate Santa and Jesus on the same day. I love the clear delineation of the two celebrations.
When I finished reading the book, it was like a breathed a sigh of relief. There was no dancing around the story, or trying to walk on eggshells about should-you-or-shouldn’t-you believe in Santa. It is simply the story of how the Santa legend has arrived to 2014. Period.
I think it’s so important to teach kids truth–in all circumstances. Not showing them too much, or inappropriate themes. But truth. This book will help you do just that–whether Santa is a part of your celebration or not.
If your kids have been confused about Santa–maybe they don’t believe and don’t know why he’s not included in your celebration, or they aren’t sure what to say to their friends, or maybe they do believe and you want to tell them the truth, or maybe they believe and you just want them to know where Santa’s story all began–this book covers all those bases.
Grab this book today and read it before Christmas gets here! (And while you’re over there, get the DVD, too!) What’s in the Bible? almost always has a deal going on! Go get ’em, friends!