It was a couple of days after Christmas and the checker was ringing up my large amount of groceries. My little guy was sitting in the buggy and my daughter, who was only five years old at the time, had struck up a conversation with the checker while I was placing bags in the buggy.
“What did Santa bring you this year?” The checker politely inquired as she continued talking with her.
“Nothing.” My daughter honestly replied, with a puzzled expression, wondering why an adult would ask her such a silly question.
“Nothing?!” The checker looked at me as though I was an incredibly unfit mother. “Surely Santa Clause brought you something . . . a toy? Just at least one present?”
“No . . . how could he? He’s dead. He died a long time ago.”
As I recall, the checker let out an audible gasp, and her glare at me indicated she thought I should be turned in for child abuse. I was blushing as the people in line behind me also looked at me like I was the first actual modern-day “Scrooge” they’d ever encountered.
People were piling up in line behind me, you know that feeling, like there is so much you want to say, but the busy check-out line is not the proper venue. So, all I could do was try to quickly explain that we’d made the choice to never lie to our children. In line with that commitment, we told our children the true story of how the mythical character Santa Clause came into being, derived from the legends of a true individual: Saint Nicholas (who “died a long time ago”—thus my daughter’s explanation to the clerk!).
Although some people may’ve thought we were depriving our children of an “innocent” opportunity to have fun by believing in a common childhood fairytale, we never regretted our decision to be honest with our children on this point.
Let me allow you to “listen in” on an actual conversation between our son and a friend when they were teens. They both told me the whole story later. Our son was sixteen and driving, and we had a few “helpful guidelines” (umm . . . rules) for him to follow that his friend thought he should ditch:
“Your mom won’t find out . . . and if she asks, just deny it.”
“My mom always find out . . . and I couldn’t lie to my mom . . .”
“Why not? She’s lied to you before . . .”
“My mom has never lied to me.”
“Sure she has, all parents lie.”
“Nope. Not mine.”
“I guarantee they’ve lied to you at least once.”
“They lied to you when they told you Santa was real.” His friend was sure he had him there.
My son confidently replied to him, “Nope. Not even then. They told me the truth about Santa.”
My son’s friend was literally blown away by the fact that our son couldn’t think of a time when we’d lied to him.
When your child suddenly hits the teen years and is getting a bit more freedom, is when fostering loyalty and living with integrity can make a real difference in influencing their choices.
I’m not telling you how you should approach this issue; I just hope you’ll consider today who you are promoting in your home this year as the “giver of all good gifts.” Whose name do your children hear the most talked about this season?
Who do you want them to emulate and follow later in life?
If you are teaching your children that Santa Clause is someone who is “watching” their actions . . . will they one day doubt that God sees and watches them . . . or will they lump Him in the same category of mythical figures that are relegated to childhood fairytales?
I pray that this holiday season, you will lead your home to focus on the One whom we should be celebrating each and every day, our Lord Jesus Christ:
[box]In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:8–11)[/box]