Keeping it Real

By Catiana Nak Kheiyn

Our fireplace mantle spent many years adorned with cards alone at Christmas. Even after our first child was born, it took almost five years before we actually purchased stockings to hang from the chimney with care. That's right—we're among those villainous parents who tell our kids that Santa Claus isn't real.

What would cause such villainy, you ask? Was I scarred as child when I found out? Not as such, though I do distinctly remember hearing my dad putting back the cookies I set out for Santa. Then there was that sinking moment when I discovered a dollhouse in my parents' closet. I knew something was up and that my tiny view of reality had just shifted. But this isn't why we're keeping it real about Santa.

Before I ever had children, a statement from a friend about this very subject stuck with me: "I never want my kids (after finding out that Santa isn't real) to ask themselves, 'If they lied about Santa, were they lying about Jesus too?'" Neither one can be "proven" by sight—except maybe Santa when he shows up at the mall. If physically seeing is believing, we haven't got a chance in proving Jesus exists. That is, unless we can get our hands on a time machine.

My almost 6-year old son informed me the other day that he decided Santa Claus must be real because he has seen him in person. I gently reminded him that the man he saw was pretending to be Santa, just like someone might dress up like Batman or Spider-Man. Santa is pretend; it's fun to pretend to believe in Santa, but he isn't a real person. We have also discussed the real person of Saint Nicholas, a man who lived hundreds of years ago and secretly gave gifts to children who had nothing.

Rarely does a 24-hour period pass when we don't have to remind our kids that telling the truth is what God commands (Colossians 3:9). He cannot lie (Titus 1:2); therefore we should strive to do the same (Ephesians 4:29; 1 Peter 3:10). If we lie to them for years on end only to renege on what we've said was truth, we've become hypocrites. How awful would it be to give our kids reason to believe that we've also lied about the truth of Jesus Christ (John 14:6)?

Before anyone's convictions begin to prickle them, let me say this: I do not condemn or judge anyone who wants to celebrate Christmas in this way or play the Santa Claus game with their children. Each parent must make their own personal decision, and they should do what they feel is right for their family. However, neither should those who choose otherwise be judged (Matthew 7:1-2). As a dear friend of mine once said, "When I tell people that we aren't letting our daughter believe in Santa Claus, they act like they want to call child protective services and report me."

We never want to give our kids reason to doubt the true reality that God exists, Jesus is alive, and He is still with us in Spirit—even if He doesn't make a public appearance at the shopping mall once a year. After all, blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed (John 20:29 ).

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Published 12-4-12