What I Believe about Santa Clause
I’m breaking up the gift guide series today to chat about another element of Christmas. The jolly old man himself: Santa Clause!
Atlas is 3 years old this year so the concept of Santa Clause is finally clicking in his little mind. YAY! Naturally, I had grand plans to use this to my advantage (*insert evil laugh here*). We downloaded a video from Santa (if you’re a mom, you’ve got to check that link out – it’s so cute) and showed it to Atlas and I’ve been joining millions of other moms in declaring, “You better behave, Santa is watching you!”
But that whole concept of “Santa is watching and you better be careful so you don’t wind up on the naughty list” hasn’t been sitting well with me (and it hasn’t been working with Atlas). Every time I say it, I cringe a little and it’s taken me a while to figure out exactly why it bothers me.
Now, don’t leave yet! I’m not knocking Father Christmas. I just realized I was using Santa Clause as a manipulation tactic to get my child to do what I wanted, rather than a motivating figure to inspire him to do good. I think Santa Clause is such a wonderful tradition and it is one I fully embrace and look forward to sharing with Atlas and Andi Rose for years to come, but I want to be sure I am presenting Santa Clause in a way that aligns with the core values I’m teaching my children. Values like grace, forgiveness and generosity. If I am telling Atlas that if he takes a toy from Andi Rose 1 more time then Santa Clause might just bring him a bag of snowman poop for Christmas and call it a day, then what message am I really sending him…about Santa Clause and life? That’s all very transactional and to be honest, it isn’t that magical when I think about it.
I think I would be robbing my children of so much if I denied them the opportunity to believe in fairy tales. There are so many wonderful truths and life lessons to be picked out of old stories. Jesus himself knew how much the human heart craved a good story – I think that’s why He taught in parables so often. He knew that we all long for something we can relate to, something that inspires us and moves us.
So that’s what I want Santa to do for my children. To inspire them. To teach them that sometimes the greatest gift we can receive is grace – perhaps grace in the form of a present we didn’t deserve or earn. And isn’t grace also one of the greatest gifts we can give? I want Atlas & Andi Rose to know that if/when they mess up, Santa offers forgiveness and he gives to those who are deserving and even to those who are undeserving. I want them to learn about a Santa who gives while expecting nothing in return. Mr Clause gives because doing good is its own reward and the same should be true for us – and any presents received are just an added bonus.
I’m certainly not opposed to effort from my children and repercussions for their bad behaviors are obviously vital to their personal growth. They should work hard at being kind and sharing (Actually, they better work hard at this), but I want their motives to be pure. I don’t want them growing up working towards getting everything on their Christmas list because that’s self-centered, which won’t leave them satisfied. I want them to grow up working towards serving others expecting nothing in return because that’s where the true magic of Christmas is found. When I share Santa with my kids, I want to highlight all that he gives, rather than all they might get.
This week I’ve been having some conversations with Atlas about giving to those in need this Christmas. I’ve noticed a big sense of entitlement in my house lately and it’s something I’m trying to tackle, not only in the heart of my 3 year old but also in my own heart.
I actually dug up some old pictures from a trip I took to Africa several years ago and I shared the photos with Atlas this week. When I pointed out that many of the children were not wearing shoes, Atlas quickly pointed out that he had lots of shoes. I asked him if he thought we should share his shoes with kids who didn’t have any shoes and he was so quick to say, “YES!” Then he asked me if Santa Clause would bring those children shoes. I told him that I sure hoped Santa would visit those kids, but sometimes Santa needs help from us to spread holiday cheer and we can act like elves and give special presents to those kids who need a little extra. He genuinely loved that idea and ever since I showed him those pictures he prays for those kids at night before bed.
Atlas & Andi Rose will get a ridiculous amount of toys no matter what this year because they have grandparents. If Santa, Dave & I all skipped Christmas this year, our kids wouldn’t notice because they have a group of people in this world who think they are perfect and deserve the moon. All kids should have those people in their lives, right? So, by no means am I saying Christmas will be downplayed in our house this year. It will be a full blown event and that’s the way I love it. I’m just trying to shift the focus this month onto the good we have the power to do for others instead of the gifts we may receive if we walk a straight line and I want to use Santa as my example, not my manipulation tool.
I guess the other point I’m trying to make here is that it isn’t Santa’s job to teach my kids to do good. It is my job. My job is to try every day to awaken their little hearts to the needs of people around them. I was being lazy there for a while and trying to use Santa as a throw blanket over all of Atlas’ behavioral issues and I was robbing him of the Christmas magic in the process…Because the magic isn’t in the gifts he might earn – it’s in giving out of the overflow of all he already has.
Training up the heart of a child is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I think Santa Clause can definitely help me out during the month of December by reiterating and demonstrating some of the lessons I’ve been trying to engrain in my son’s mind all year long. Turns out I can still use the man in the red suit to my advantage, just not in the way I originally planned.
And you better believe I’m using Santa Clause as my excuse to perfect my cookie recipes. I’m all, “We need to bake cookies again today because we have to get them just right for Santa Clause on Christmas Eve. We want our cookies to be his favorite because I think he leaves an extra special present for the family with the best cookie recipe.” It’s a great way to justify baking cookies on a Wednesday at 10am. #noshameinmygame
Your turn! Thoughts on Santa?!
And sorry this post is late again. I’m down with a nasty cold so I’m in survival mode over here. Just counting down the hours until my kids go to bed so I can drink a bottle of NyQuil. Again…#noshameinmygame