Is Santa Claus Coming to Town?

      With Thanksgiving behind us, Christmas is coming! Every year around this time I get questions from moms and dads asking for my opinion on Santa Claus: “Did you tell your kids there is a Santa?” Some are very adamant: “Santa Claus is a replacement of Jesus in this secularized society and just another way of spreading the materialism of this age.” Others see the fable as harmless delightful fantasy: “I believed in Santa when I was a kid and it didn’t hurt me! It’s just a fun way to give the kids a little magical spark during this wonderful season.”
      Have you ever thought that Santa can provide a springboard for reinforcing young minds with the true meaning of Christmas?
      You see, there was a real Santa Claus. From the time our children were very young we taught them about the real man behind the legend. Hundreds of years ago there lived a man named Nicholas (later known as St. Nicholas) who inherited a great sum of wealth from his parents. He was born in 280 AD and his parent died when he was just a boy. Early in his life he devoted himself to God and the Lord’s service. He grew up to become a pastor in modern day Turkey, and he gave away all of his wealth to help the poor––especially children. When he was persecuted and imprisoned for his faith, he shared his meager provisions with the other inmates. He gained a reputation for giving both out of his abundance, and then out of his poverty. He believed that giving to the needy was the same as giving to Jesus. He was right. Jesus taught that himself (Matt. 25:40). His example of giving sparked in many a tradition of giving to commemorate the birth of Jesus. St. Nick was a real person who left for us a wonderful example. But I think he would be horrified to know how he has come to be the exaggerated focus on materialism for many children at this time of the year.
      Linda and I have always taught our children about the real Santa Claus. We also emphasized to our children that lying is absolutely and always wrong. To us, our integrity is one of the most important gifts we can give our kids. We have an agreement: We will not ever lie to them; they are not to ever lie to us. I would have a hard time teaching them that if I maintained a story to be true for years while knowing that it was not. As a child, once I learned that the Santa story I had been told was only a fable, I began to wonder if the stories about Jesus were just fables as well. Though I believed in Santa Claus as a child, and my children have enjoyed pretending the legend but knowing its roots, I did not enjoy Christmas more than they. In our family, we try to emphasize giving to others, not getting from Santa. I think they enjoy it more because they get excited about the “giving projects” we take part in as a family. We really try to make Christ the centerpiece of His birthday celebration and this way we believe we are passing on to our children a heritage far more valuable than any fun that make-believe can provide.
      As parents, you have the obligation to do and teach your children what is right for your family. I trust you will pray about this issue and are sincere in how you believe the Lord is leading. His way is always the best way!
      In the mean time, please do your best to establish Christmas traditions in your family that will focus on Jesus and how His birth provided for us communion with God! Use this holiday season to lead your children in making Christ your first priority.

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