Saying “No” to Santa

I am going to open up this can of worms for the second year in a row. I am having an honest struggle with Santa Claus. I was raised with my parents doing Santa Claus. I can remember thinking that I heard sleigh bells when I was five years old, waiting in anticipation for Christmas morning. My parents did a great job of making Christmas a special time. That is why I am shocked that I am struggling with the decision to do Santa Claus or not. The Easter Bunny is already a big no for my husband and me.

Here’s my struggle. I believe that Santa Claus overshadows the birth of Jesus Christ in our culture. I also do not think that the Santa Claus of today is St. Nicholas, that heretic fighting, children loving, Bishop of the Church who spent time in prison for the Faith. A man living in the North Pole with a bunch of elves, who sometimes is an elf himself, is more like the story Twas’ the Night Before Christmas than St. Nicholas. I know there are people who would debate this with me, and I respect their opinion. I just don’t see the resemblance these days.

St. Nicholas, defender of the Faith.

St. Nicholas, defender of the Faith.
Anymore I associate rampant materialism with Santa Claus. A story that taught children basic morality has turned into a “give me stuff” mentality. It is no longer tell Santa the one thing you want for Christmas. It is now tell Santa everything you want for Christmas, so your parents can go trample one another on Black Thursday….Friday. Call me cynical. I know a lot of it is how you do it in your own family. There are plenty of Catholic families who do a nice temperate job with Santa Claus. That is great.
Does this really look like St. Nicholas?  Is Santa Claus serving Jesus Christ these days?

Does this really look like St. Nicholas? Is Santa Claus serving Jesus Christ these days?

Here is my biggest question: If we get the birth of Jesus Christ, Savior of the World on Christmas, then why do we need Santa Claus? I am a great lover of the Communion of Saints, by the way, but like I said, I barely see the resemblance between St. Nicholas and Santa Claus. In fact, if Catholics are honest they will see that historically Santa Claus was created to deflect a Catholic Feast Day. I do not believe that the Protestants who created the character had the current Santa Claus in mind, though. He has evolved through story-telling in the elite quarters of the last couple of Centuries.
The interesting thing is that my Protestant friends are less likely to do Santa Claus in their home than Catholics. My Protestant friends outright condemn the materialism that Santa Claus has created and are vehemently opposed to lying to their children. I find Matt Fradd’s post, a Catholic apologist, on this is topic to reflect how I view the situation. He quotes the Catechism of the Catholic Church on lying. I highly recommend you read his thoughts on Santa.
But, once again, my biggest struggle is that Jesus Christ should be enough. If we want to celebrate St. Nicholas, then December 6th is the best day to do it. That is what we do in our home. We remember the generosity of this great defender of the Faith by giving small gifts, oranges, and candy. In my mind the wonder and joy of Christmas, the “magic” if you will, should come from God, who created all things and became man to save us from sin and death. Like Matt Fradd said in his post, ‘if we are losing the magic of Christmas when Our Savior was born, then we are doing it wrong.’
The true joy, wonder, and awe comes into the world to save us.  That is Christmas!

The true joy, wonder, and awe comes into the world to save us. That is Christmas!

I am not condemning folks who do Santa Claus, so please do not misunderstand me. I am merely pointing out that some honest reflection should be in order. If you can balance Santa Claus and the birth of Christ in your family then that is wonderful. If you start to think about it and see that Santa is more important than Christ, then some changes should be made. If like me, you don’t see the need for Santa Claus and don’t like lying to your children, then consider getting rid of Santa and focusing on Jesus Christ. All joy stems from Him.
I have had some pretty nasty responses to my questioning Santa Claus. I have heard that I will ruin my daughter’s childhood, to I am committing the sin of scrupulosity, to I should just do Santa anyway. Well, I have to do things based on my informed conscience. I had this struggle last year, when our daughter was a one year old. I never thought I would be here, but then again, I never saw myself where I am spiritually either. My husband thinks that God has given me this struggle for a reason. Perhaps he wants me and my family to focus solely on Him during the Christmas season and that is why he has placed this in my heart. We honor St. Nicholas on his day, but focus on Jesus Christ on the Feast of the Nativity. We still exchange gifts to celebrate, but they are from us and our family. My husband wants us to do gifts on Epiphany. We are still debating that one.
My daughter will have plenty of wonder, joy, and “magic” in her childhood. She gets to celebrate throughout the year as we live the Church calendar. She gets two birthdays, her actual day of birth and her Baptism anniversary when she was made a new creation in Christ. She also gets to celebrate Easter, Marian Feast Days, and our family patron saints. She will be introduced to Narnia, Middle-Earth, A Wrinkle in Time, and other great works of fiction that will engage her imagination. There will be no shortage of awe in this home.
What are you thoughts? What do you do in your home? Do you live liturgically? Have you thought about getting rid of Santa? Please keep it charitable. Advent blessings!

7 comments

  1. You (in submission to your husband) *must* pray and obey the Holy Spirit’s guidance regarding this. I appreciate your gracious handling of this touchy topic. I took a little flak from other adults for not “doing” Santa with my kids. I was raised in an unbelieving home and never ever knew that Christmas was about Jesus until I was in later elementary school. The Peanuts Christmas special (1965 version) was my only exposure to the true story. I am so thankful that I was able to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas with my children. Even more than the materialism that modern-day, secular Santa Claus encourages, I was always disturbed by the manipulative aspect of children being told that Santa was watching them and giving gifts in accordance with his judgement of whether they had been “bad or good.” How blessed the world is that “while we were yet sinners” God sent His only Son as the greatest gift in the universe.

  2. holinessinmotherhood · · Reply

    Dana,
    Surprisingly, I am the one who has brought it up, but my husband thinks it is a good idea. His family is big into Santa. We just both want to more fully live the Church calendar and we want Christmas to about Christ. I know we will get flak for it from our families, but it does not matter. We have a very happy child and there will be no ruined childhoods. Your children are l

  3. holinessinmotherhood · · Reply

    Lovely and holy people without Santa. And thank you for the reminder of my duty to my husband. I needed to reminder. Lots of love!

    Constance

  4. holinessinmotherhood · · Reply

    I also cannot type on the iPhone….lol

  5. We are at these cross roads too! Anne is 21 months old and whatever traditions we set in place now will be what we do for here on out. My problem with Santa is if we mislead our children about him, what happens to their faith in Christ when they find out they were misled in their beliefs? It is not a far jump to assume that if Santa isn’t real, Jesus isn’t real too

    1. holinessinmotherhood · · Reply

      I agree! There is something about direct misleading that bothers me too. For instance, I enjoy reading Greek mythology but have never thought it was real. I don’t want them believing that Jesus Christ is just a myth, which is a major argument atheists try to use.

  6. YOU ASKED: “Here is my biggest question: If we get the birth of Jesus Christ, Savior of the World on Christmas, then why do we need Santa Claus?”

    This is a rhetorical question, yes?

    “WE” do not “NEED” Santa Claus. He is for the unbelieving world – the world devoid of the light of Christ – those who’s hearts are as cold as marble in the middle of winter and whose necks are as stiff as a California Redwood.

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