By Alicia Searl, Crosswalk.com
Santa Claus is coming to town!
Pretty soon, our scout elf will be on house surveillance, hiding in the lights or tucked within the garland, secretly watching who is being “naughty” or “nice,” and then sending the report back to the Big Guy!
The anticipation grows as we busily prepare for the holidays and make a little extra room in our hearts to honor the glorious birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But it often brings to mind…Is there a happy medium where the belief in both Jesus and Santa collides?
Can our children truly love both?
As a family that wholeheartedly loves Jesus, I can tell you that we enjoy Good ‘Ole St. Nick too! So, yes, I do believe there can be a sweet spot where you place the sole focus on Jesus while incorporating the fun elements of Mr. and Mrs. Claus.
While this is a personal decision not to be taken lightly, if you are wondering how to teach your children how to love Jesus and Santa, then mosey on down to Santa Clause Lane, and let’s meet him while giving thanks to the Lord above!
Here are four simple ways that you can celebrate the birth of our King while also enjoying Santa Claus.
1. Keep Christ in the Center
Jesus is the reason for the season. The slogan we hold near and dear this time of year. But how do we keep Christ at the center with our children while also incorporating Santa?
We discuss the story of Jesus while encouraging them to encounter and experience this season by embracing God’s love for them through His Son.
Here are some purposeful ways to keep Christ as the center focus this Christmas:
- Read Luke 2 with your children.
- Attend a Christmas play or live nativity scene.
- Have a “play” nativity scene for them to act out the Christmas story.
- Share the love and serve others as a family.
- Read a family devotional; Watch The Star.
We have to make Jesus our top priority because Santa will easily slip into most activities or will make appearances at local social events and gatherings, swaying our children’s attention.
When we re-align all our events back to the sole reason we celebrate, as our children grow older, they will be able to distinguish the fun behind Santa and the Truth behind Jesus.
2. Remember Santa Is Seasonal, but Jesus Is Eternal
Jesus should be a topic of conversation year-round. Whereas Santa is a topic just around Christmastime.
It’s easy to get consumed in commercialism, but in keeping Christ as the main focus and topic of conversation, our children grow excited to celebrate a holy birthday that changed the world.
We can teach our children the power behind the beloved verse John 3:16 and continue that promise God gives us by reading John 3:17 as well. Letting our children know the pathway to heaven is Jesus. He is our eternal hope — the real gift!
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him(John 3:16-17).
When they do encounter Santa, we can remind them that he displays love through generosity, kindness, and giving, but Jesus gives them so much more through His selfless sacrifice on that cross. Point out that Jesus was born with a purpose, and God had an ultimate plan for Him.
Retell their birth story and how special it was as you share the story of Jesus. Make it personal to them and let them know that Jesus was born to save them from the sins of this world. Even when they sin and are considered “naughty”, they are still adored by Jesus.
3. Know There Is a Difference in the Message
The message of Santa is different than that of Jesus. While both are a message of love and spreading goodness to others, Jesus offers so much more than the acts of goodwill — Jesus offers us hope!
Santa is magical and full of surprises. He spreads good cheer, and his workmanship teaches children that with dedication and a heart that serves others, tenderness and love grow. We can learn a lot from our friend, Santa.
Valuable lessons to take away from Santa Claus:
- Kindness matters
- Our behavior can affect ourselves and others.
- Giving is often better than receiving.
Jesus isn’t magical or fictitious, and He is the real deal! Once our children learn the “surprise” about Santa, we learn that Santa may love them, but Jesus loves them indefinitely and without boundaries.
Our actions and good deeds do not go unnoticed, but Jesus is looking for a personal relationship with us and yearns for our hearts. He gives us not just a better life but an abundant one!
Valuable lessons to learn from Jesus’ love for us:
- Jesus is everywhere and is always with us.
- Jesus loves you no matter what — naughty or nice.
- Jesus offers us grace wrapped in forgiveness.
- Jesus models how to live this life well, with grace and dignity.
4. Lean on Faith During the Reveal
It’s been said that once our children find out the truth about Santa, they will question their belief in Jesus. Fortunately, we have not had that experience.
Here’s the truth we have to come to grips with as parents. Most likely, at some point, our children will question their faith, especially as they enter their pre-teen and teen years. This has nothing to do with believing in Santa or not, and they just want to discover who Jesus is in their own personal way.
So, when our daughters began to ask questions about Santa, we always asked them, “What do you believe?” It gave them a safe place to either continue to believe or to let go.
However, when they ask questions about Jesus, we strive to do our best to lead them back to Scripture, revealing that their faith is their everything.
We want them to understand that Santa is a belief they can carry and let go when they are ready, but Jesus is a life-long pursuit. Jesus is their constant lifeline.
All that being said, we continue to label gifts from Santa and hide our elf around the house. Our seven-year-old now has two older sisters that love to take part in the fun and have been known to give us a few great ideas to add to the magic!
We have also always shared the real story of St. Nicolas and how he was a nobleman that sold everything he had and gave it to the poor.
His secret outpour of love helped the needy, sick, and malnourished, which is a lesson we should tuck within our own hearts, as we are called to do the same (Luke 12:33-44).
This sweet time of year allows us to teach our children to open their hearts to those in need. To graciously give as St. Nicolas did and humbly serve and love as Jesus teaches us through His Word.
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
As we enter into the season full of magic and wonder, may you find special ways to celebrate our Lord Jesus Christ with your family. In time may it grow your child’s faith and wonder of the incredible love of Jesus!
If Santa is a part of your celebration, I pray the memories you create allow for precious conversations that open your child’s heart to generosity, kindness and giving this year.
Have a Holly Jolly Christmas!
For further reading:
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Prostock-Studio
Alicia Searl is a devotional author, blogger, and speaker that is passionate about pouring out her heart and pointing ladies of all ages back to Jesus. She has an education background and master’s in literacy. Her favorite people call her Mom, which is why much of her time is spent cheering them on at a softball game or dance class. She is married to her heartthrob (a tall, spiky-haired blond) who can whip up a mean latte. She sips that goodness while writing her heart on a page while her puppy licks her feet. Visit her website at aliciasearl.com and connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.