For Family Home Evening last week I sat the children down and told them that we would soon have a visitor to our home. I asked them to guess who they think it may be while I give clues, and then I’d ask them at the end to tell me who they guessed. This man has a beard, he is often pictured wearing red, he loves children, he knows if you are sleeping or awake, if you’ve been bad or good. He has special gifts for all of us. He can enter our homes even when the doors are locked. You can never see him, but you can feel him. He hopes you will be good so you are ready when he comes. He has special powers. He gives us a wonderful, warm feeling inside.
Before I unveiled the photos I had with the answer, I asked each boy who they thought was coming. Red said, “Santa” and Blue said, “Jesus.” The photos I unveilled were both photos of Jesus and we talked about the similarities of the two and how Santa is a modern symbol of Jesus.
My children do believe in Santa Claus, although before we reached this stage I was very torn on the subject. Ultimately I decided that Christ and Santa could coexist in my children’s lives, and that the one could help the other. For our family I made the right choice; my children are so determined to believe that it really adds to the magic of childhood. (Two weeks ago Red saw an elf in his room as he was dressing for school. We do not participate in Elf on the Shelf.)
In our family Santa fills stockings with fruit, candy, nuts, and sometimes small toys. My children ask him for only one beloved toy (after being carefully groomed by their parents to not be greedy and ask for something so big that it would compromise Satna’s resources and run the risk of another child in the world not getting something.) Santa does not wrap the toys for our family. He presents them unwrapped, unpackaged, preassembled (batteries installed), ready for immediate play. The children come downstairs and can instantly play with the toy they’ve been thinking about nonstop for the past six weeks. Not only does it create magical instant gratification but it gives them something to play with if the morning goes at a slower pace than they would like. (We open our presents methodically, one at a time, and only after the presents are opened do we begin to assemble the toys.)
This magical period of childhood is so short, and I intend to hold on to every sparkling moment of it. Fortunately, it isn’t interfering with my children’s spiritual development; they are still developing a relationship with God, despite the onslaught of materialism. In fact, Red even asked last week, “just how did Santa get involved in Christmas?” demonstrating his knowledge that Christmas is about Christmas, but over time we’ve added all these shiny trappings.