Considering Santa

Piper's passion for the Lord is a pleasure to see -- and it is often catching. 

I love reading everything Pastor John Piper writes. I don't really mean everything of course. Often I agree wholeheartedly; sometimes I don't. Either way his passion for the Lord is a pleasure to see -- and it is often catching. It is not just what is said but also the way it's said. He reads like a poet -- actually, I think he is a poet. And a pastor with that kind of attention to the art of words, speaks to me.

DesiringGod.org is a bountiful resource.

I bring Pastor Piper up now because I just ran across an episode of the podcast Ask Pastor John about whether Christian parents should include Santa Claus in their Christmas celebrations. It's worth checking out. While you're at it, check out a few more in the series -- the pastor answers actual questions with biblically sound and sourced, thoughtful, well-organized arguments. Scroll through; I bet you were wondering about some of them yourself.

At this point this post is not about Santa Claus; it's about the ministry of Desiring God. And that is a good picture of how we deal with Ol' Saint Nick in our house.

The short answer is: We don't.

We sing about him. We talk about him. We wonder aloud about him.

Christmas is fun and bright in our house. We put up the tree right after Thanksgiving -- often right after the big dinner. We talk about it all through November. It's a time of year we all look forward to.

And it is entirely focused on our Lord, Christ. We sing about him. We talk about him. We wonder aloud about him.

We read the Nativity accounts in the Bible and in our multiple Children's Bibles. If you saw my previous post showing our Advent Calendar, you could see we read sections of the Bible each day about Jesus and then do a related activity. The kids and I really enjoy all of these things.

In the buying and wrapping and giving of gifts. In the decorating and viewing of lights. In all the stuff -- we celebrate Jesus.

We generally don't mention Santa. Now, we do not live in our own little bubble, and we do have a TV. The kids do hear rumors of a jolly, old man who does remarkable things about this time each year. And that's ok with us. Neither I nor my husband has ever said to any of the children that Santa Claus isn't real.

We celebrate Jesus.

The children have each dealt with the issue differently. Our oldest, Chris, has never believed in Santa. He doesn't do the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy either. He's very logical, and he always has been. The only way he would think that there was really a Santa is if I definitively told him there was, and I wouldn't do that.

People do disagree with us. Actually, I was kind of surprised to find that parents usually tell their children about Santa Claus. I guess I just assumed they found out about him some other way.

We do have a problem with that. This is how I think about it. At about the same time each year I tell you about two events that are remarkable and mysterious. One is absolutely true; the other is made up. When you find out that the made up one was just a story, which you eventually will, won't you then be far less likely to accept the other, true, story? I think you might.

Now, neither of our youngest sons apparently know much, if anything, about Santa Claus. Our daughter, though, is different from the boys. She is not convinced either way. She likes to think there may be a Santa Claus -- and a Tooth Fairy. (They have no knowledge of the Easter Bunny.) It is pure joy, pleasure for her. She enjoys the maybe. And it has been my intent to express to her that she is free to do so. She is free in the gospel to say, maybe there is a magical creature who flies through the air in a sleigh pulled by reindeer.

Charlotte likes to think there might be a Santa Claus.

She doesn't think that much about it (or him). She can clearly see most of the gifts are under the tree before Christmas Eve. She, herself, helps to pick out, buy, and wrap gifts for her brothers and cousins. She knows the gifts that they receive on Christmas Day either came from a store or Momma made them. And she is so in love with Jesus.

Once when Charlotte's tooth fell out, she told me she wasn't going to put it under her pillow. She said she had done that three times before, but the Tooth Fairy hadn't come. I told her to go ahead and try again; she might just come this time. She did come, and she left a tiny note too, apologizing about the missed opportunities.

I had to privately let Chris in on my secret to keep his understanding of the world intact, but for Charlotte, this little treasure was so much fun. She still is not absolutely convinced that it was a tiny, person-like, winged creature that gave her the gift and not me that night, but it is the possibility that she enjoyed.

And that's exactly what Santa has become in our house. A fun, little, maybe. A side thing, that brings a smile or two, and then it's gone. Never at the center.

And that's what Santa has become in our house -- a side thing.

How does this look practically?

Last year, we came across the Santa Tracker on Google, and we couldn't help but play with it. I wouldn't mind taking a look at it this again year with the kids. We watched the movie Arthur Christmas a week or two ago. We also saw Santa ride in on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade; we did note, though, that he was also at the parade on the other channel.

We don't write Christmas lists or letters to Santa. We don't do the Santa photo at the mall or at our neighborhood Christmas function. Actually, we neither go to the mall nor the neighborhood Christmas function.

Apart from stuffed toys and over-sized, mechanical, Christmas decor we see in the market, the only time the children see or hear of Santa is on TV. And they know you can't believe everything you see on TV.