We are past this stage in our parenting but I thought it might be interesting to post how we handled Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy.
This issue is not at the heart of the gospel (Romans 14:4, 17). I was brought up on Santa until age six. One Christmas Eve night we were driving home from my grandmother’s house. As I looked out at all the homes in my city, I just knew that there was no way Santa could visit every house in the world in one night. And I am following the Lord today.
However, anytime we talk to our children about someone who knows if we are sleeping or awake (omniscience) and who knows if we’ve been good or bad and expect us to be good, then we ought to think beyond the surface.
In addition, there is the subtle danger of learning about two invisible people: Jesus and Santa. When you find out later one is not real then… As the caption on the poster reads, “Children, one day you will learn everything about Santa Claus. On that day, remember everything that the adults have told you about Jesus.”
With that in mind, our hard and fast rule was we will never ever lie to our children (or anyone else). Never. When I tell them the truth about things they cannot see, I do not want them to have any doubts about the truthfulness of their Dad or Mom. I want them to have complete trust in our integrity.
So how did our family handle Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy?
1. We never took our children to talk with Santa (or the EB). No Christmas cards in his lap.
2. We never brought Santa up in conversation. If the children brought it up, then we would talk about it.
3. We used passive language. “Christmas is coming. There will be presents under the tree.” “Put your tooth under your pillow and there will be some money there the next morning.” There was something a little more fun with the passive voice. We didn’t say Santa will bring presents. We didn’t say we will bring presents. We said, “There will be some presents.” Mysterious. Teasing.
4. Because we used passive language, by the time they asked who these dressed up men were, they could also handle the trust of the truth. “Some children believe that Santa brings their presents. We don’t want to spoil Christmas for them. This is our secret.”
5. When asked by another adult or child what they hoped Santa would bring, we told them simply to reply with what they wanted for Christmas. They still had some times when they had the deer-in-the-headlights look. We just repeated the question, “Honey, tell Mrs. Smith what you want for Christmas.”
6. We resolved not to be Christmas haters. As a family we enjoyed How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Elf, and The Polar Express. We had great fun with the secular aspects of the holiday.
7. We wanted the focus to remain on Jesus, even as we added a little fun to life with presents or chocolate eggs.
These principles served our family well and we still had great fun.
In fact, on a couple of nights the “tooth fairy” slipped in his duties. The tooth was still under the pillow the next morning. So one of my daughters wrote a note to remind the “tooth fairy.” With a twinkle in her eye, she handed the note to me and said, “Dad, could you give this note to the tooth fairy? She forgot to come by last night.” And she quickly turned to walk away with a knowing smile.
Let’s honor the Savior this holiday season.
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