What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Monday, December 01, 2008

Santa, revealed

A wide-eyed girl, asking pointed questions in the backseat. Trusting, completely, that my answer is truth~ that my answer is solid, good and right. Earnest and intent upon my words, she sits waiting. No doubt enters her mind at all that I will lead her astray~ for what I say is how it is-plain and simple.

Children retrieve in their minds what you first put there. Being a parent is a powerful thing. We are, in essence, brainwashers. Children never doubt you-only trust and believe. We can learn much from them, and for these reasons are called to be like them.

The power I hold in my hands; the dark eyes peering at me with absolute trust makes me waver.

Santa Claus.

As a child, I LOVED to believe in Santa Claus. Nothing thickened the air with anticipation as that jolly elf did, nothing could compare to the lying awake in hopes of hearing a tinkling upon the roof. I adored Santa Claus~and even when I realized that he wasn't real, I was thankful for the magic and wonderment that was added to the season because of his story. I *still* like to think of it.

So naturally, I enjoyed the play along with my own children. I never had to lie because the story was fed through books, sights, and all other manner of media and the children were too small to contemplate the truth of it. After all, isn't the story of Santa Claus the very same thing as reading a story about a talking pig? or a gnome and sprite filled forest?

But now. NOW. I have a five year old, asking me when Santa sleeps. How he knows when she is good? and all other manner of trivia. Before, those questions were answered with "How do YOU think he does it?" or "The story goes..." But now, girlchild who is growing up too fast, is not satisfied with those answers. Girlchild says "I know what the STORY says, but I want to know the TRUTH." And the word lingers in the air. She doesn't want to know the truth. I know her heart like my own, and know that she will be devastated when she hears it. But she deserves to hear it, true? Her insistence on "the truth" bites me. Truth is not a relative term. It simply is...or isn't.

Those same wide eyes ask me about Jesus. God. Heaven and hell. That same trusting heart yearns for answers and seeks them from me, wholly believing and trusting that I will guide and direct her in truth. And I have, and I do.

But I don't WANT to tell her the truth. I don't WANT to take away that childlike anticipation and excitement. I don't want her to be sad. Not to mention, to admit there is no Santa Claus will have me mourning my own magical, awe-filled childhood and her lack of it.

But how can one expect a child to believe you, unquestioningly, when they realize that you have lied about other things? If there is no Santa, who is to say you've been lying all along about Jesus too? Oh-it would break my heart-SHATTER IT-if doubt were to arise in the hearts of my children because of a silly seasonal tradition!

I go to bed, wondering, pondering my next move. I don't WANT to take Santa away from her sweet childlike imagination. But is the risk too great?


The next day, headlines are read at the dinner table. Newsprint comes to life as I read the words stamped coldly on inner pages of paper. A post-Black Friday horror story..sandwiched between Football players and glib editorials. A Walmart employee trampled-TO DEATH-by 2,000 Black Friday shoppers. 2,000 people acting more like elephants than humans, idolizing material goods more than people. A VCR, on sale cheap more valuable than human life. This is true for a stampede of two THOUSAND people. Not a single Samaritan in the bunch.

My heart drops to the floor as I read the words, and try to absorb them. My throat constricts in madness and deep grief. Oh GOD, how wicked a people we are! I am livid and filled with despair at the same time. What is WRONG with this nation? I know what is wrong-Sin. Yet-the perverseness of it still surprises me at times. The ugliness. The evil of it all. I want to shield my eyes and see only my sweet suckling babe, or my twinkly eyed loves.

What's worse? This news; horrible, tragic news isn't as important as a football player shooting his own foot by mistake, and takes a backseat to the commemorative Barack Obama paraphanalia now available. It isn't frontpage...it isn't "TAKE A LOOK AT YOURSELVES, people!" It isn't as newsworthy as the rest. It doesn't seem at all shocking.

We are on the brink of economic collapse and still, people are ravishing for 'stuff'. Meaningless STUFF. We don't think twice about killing our babies-yet stand picketing the rights of animals. Our children have Christmas wishlists that are longer than grocery receipts and we laugh, while we encourage their greed. Teenagers spend Thanksgiving curled in a chair listening to Ipods while great grandmothers sit alone, mouths silent of stories past. Togetherness means nothing because Miss Spoiled doesn't get a kitty. We worry more about flat-screened TV's or cellphones than we do the investment of time in the family.

Suddenly, I am sick. Sick with my own dizzying thoughts.

Where is He in all of this?

He is far FAR from this story. Forgotten. Abandoned.

And suddenly, it seems far easier for me to separate myself from this Santa Claus story, this tradition of the world.

I want to reject EVERYTHING that the herd of Walmart shoppers valued.

I REJECT the lists of WANTS. Shouldn't we be thinking of what we have already received, that victorious day so long ago and each day of our lives?

I REJECT trying to buy the love of others, or share my own love on the wings of coin and paper. The investment of time is the only one I choose to depend upon. Present economic state notwithstanding.

I REJECT the hustle and bustle in a time that ought to be quiet. A time that ought to be rejoicing in remembrance. Thankful in contemplation. Joyous in its stillness.

I REJECT the ignorance I give to my children when I tell them that "something" comes from "nothing". I want my children to understand that what they are given has VALUE. Value from the hardworking hands of Papa and Mama. That their gifts came with consequences. That Papa worked hard for the money to buy them. That my fingers worked hard to create them. That our thoughts and love for them came before the gift. They need to know these things, before any appreciation for the gift can even happen.

I REJECT that society tries telling my children (and me) what we need, or should want. My children will know that we value them wholly, and show it by very personal gifts. Not the latest from the toy catalog, but something that is wholly and wildly adored by THEM. I don't want society dictating ANYTHING to me, or my children. I want to be set apart.


"Corynn, come here please. I'd like to talk to you about something. Something that will probably make you sad, but MAY make you happy." I say, and she walks into my arms. Waiting. Listening. Intent.

I tell her the TRUTH, about Santa~ and the tears flow. While warm tears race down her cheeks, I speak quietly, telling her WHY the truth needed to be said. I tell her that I want her to trust me always and know that I will never lie to her. That I worried, if I played along, she might one day think I was only "playing along" about Jesus too.

"But I LIKED believing in Santa, Mama!" she cries.

"But you CAN Corynn. You can pretend he is real just like you enjoy talking to and with your dolly-or that you find fairies in the woods. You can still pretend just like always before, and I can pretend with you if you like...but I wanted you to know the TRUTH. That it is just pretending. Some stories are make believe, and they are FUN to think about and pretend with. Some stories are true. And it's important we know which is which."

As my voice quietly soothes with explanation, I notice the sniffles dwindling . I tell her that it is Papa and I that fill her stocking each year. And that we do so because we love her. That the gifts tucked within we got especially for her because we knew she would like them and the giving of them gave us joy. The look on her face when she discovered them gave us even more joy. With that, a sparkle returns to her eyes for a moment and a smile plays at her lips.

Then, I turn it all around-to the very beginning. To where it started and where it ends. To where it ought to have been the whole time. Christ. Savior child. The greatest gift the world has ever received. I told her she had someone FAR greater than Santa Claus.

"Santa Claus, after all, is limited. He comes but once a year and IF you are good, will give you something you want.

God in INFINITE. He sees you everyday, and NEVER leaves you nor forsakes you. He doesn't come just one day a year but is EVER present. He not only gives us things, He gifts us things even when we are BAD. He blesses us even as we are so undeserving. But then, of course, He gives us things that are BETTER than what we want for ourselves...He surpasses our own expectations! He blesses us more abundantly than we could EVER ask for ourselves!" Cheeks are streaked with trails of tears now dried. I see joy again, bubbling from within. Then, we find ourselves sharing the gifts we have already received. Mentally writing the "Wishes Granted" list, sharing it with one another.

~ The birth of Jesus, our Savior, Redeemer and Sustainer in life. Miraculous child, Miraculous God.
~Our tastebuds. Food needn't have been sweet, or delicious-but God EVEN thought of that!
~Sunsets and snowflakes
~Smiling eyes and warming hugs
~Reading together
~ Legs- how HANDY they are!
~Minds that can create and learn and invent.
~The shape and colors of creation. Leaves. Flowers. Pumpkins. Stones. Acorn hats.
~Prayers answered.
~Each other, togetherness
~That mothers can make milk for their babies (that was one of HERS, by the way)
~the sound of giggling.
~A baby sister
~The sweet softness of her skin

By the end, we were both smiling and giggling, cuddled closer into one another than before; finding comfort and joy in one another and in the Giver of Joy.

Turns out, it's true: we have been gifted things I never would have thought to ask for. Any wishlist we may have created has already been far surpassed.

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Girl Scout Mama said...

Awww I feel For you, I really do. I just had that same conversation with my two girls. Except they were told by their little friend next door. WHen I asked if they were okay with it, they both said yes that they liked knowing that mama and daddy were santa claus, the tooth fairy and easter bunny.
But it's stil sad for me though, a part of me didn't want them to find out to soon. But they grow up so fast now days.
Congrats on your new bundle of joy. She is such a cutie!

Veronica said...

What a wonderful post!!
As a child I too believed in Santa, but now, as a family we have chosen not to "do" Santa with our daughter - for so many of the reasons you listed above! But, she still knows about him - she sees him/pictures at the stores, or hears about him from friends...And, I have wondered about how to clearly explain the TRUTH, and re-focus on CHRIST...without taking away the magic of "pretend," as we also read fantasy stories about fairies, princesses, and talking pigs...And, she loves to play dress-up, and I love to encourage her imaginative games...)
Your post expressed it all beautifully!!! Thank you!!
P.S. Bunkin/Adele is beautiful!!

Kraesc said...

Thank you so much for sharing this! I often wonder if we will let our children believe in Santa Claus. And then how to break it to them that he's not real. You have encouraged me and I hope that I will be able to handle it with such grace as you have. Your baby is precious!

Christine said...

What a beautiful post! We have chosen not to teach our children about a mythical Santa Claus, because of the very thing you have mentioned. We don't want our children to doubt the truth we speak about God. As you said, truth is truth. The Walmart story broke my heart. A human being was killed because thousands of people treasured things, over people. The gifts obtained in such a heinous way, look pretty insignificant. You have touched on so many important things in life. Blessings!

Anonymous said...

Wow. perfectly written.

Martie said...

Absolutly wonderful post - your best yet!! Excellent.

Congrats on the baby - I just kept checking and checking to see if the baby had made her arrivial.

Enjoy your blog. Trust you have a wonderful Christmas season - focusing on TRUTH!!


The FD said...

Beautifully written!

Woodsy Ivy said...

My mom sent me a link to your blog because she had read this post and knew I was struggling with similar feelings as to whether or not to tell my almost 5 year old "the truth" about Santa. I think we should tell him for the same reasons you had. My husband thinks we shouldn't. I wanted to tell you that this is the most precious post I believe I've ever read. It brought tears to my eyes. You did the right thing even though it wasn't easy. God bless! Jill

Deborah said...

Beautifully said! I couldn't agree with you more.

Diane said...

Thanks for sharing with us all. With my little guy turning one on 12/17 I wonder what next year will be like, what do we tell him. I always debate internally.

The picture at the bottom is just adorable!

Andie said...

How in the world do you have the time, energy, and brain power to get so deep, spiritual, and amazingly thoughtful when only one week post pardum with baby #3??? When Bethanyw as a week old, I think I was struggling to put three words together to make an intelligible sentence. (Ok, so I still struggle most days!)
An amazing, thoughtful post. My children have been asking a lot of questions lately that I wasn't sure how to answer...thank you for helping me to figure it out.
Blessings to you-

Anonymous said...

We decided not to tell the kids it was "santa" that brings gifts. We didnt want them to doubt us when we told them of Jesus. They know that people do it for 'fun' and part of my oldests history we do the original story of where St. Nick came from. Trying to keep Jesus at the center of it. Not the hussle of presents. This was beautifuly put. Thankyou so much for opening up and sharing your thoughts.
I love the picture of her with sweet loving hands holding her :)


Quinne said...

Hi Rebecca :) This is wonderfully written - thanks so much for sharing it here.

What a blessing it is that the Father gives us the words to say at times like these!

I am linking to this post tomorrow. Love to you, Q

~~Anne said...


This post brought tears to my eyes. I think it is one of the most beautiful, heartfelt things you have ever written (and you HAVE written MANY other great posts). You explained it all so well to Corynn...in your gentle, loving manner. You are a terrific mom!!

That Wal-Mart story was absolutely horrendous. I read of another one where a pregant woman was knocked down and stepped on too. Thankfully, both she and her baby were fine. But, how can people be so, so uncaring, selfish and greedy?

Anyway, I really enjoyed reading this post this morning. May God continue to bless you all.
Baby Adele is gorgeous!!


Miss Breezy said...

What a precious post. So good, and convicting. I have the same feelings about materialism, and I too felt sick and horrified about the Wal-Mart tramplers. I'm so glad that God used this "moment of truth" to draw you closer to each other and Himself.

Congratulations on Adele! She is beautiful. I'm so happy for you all.

God bless you all and Merry Christmas!
(P.S. I now have an Etsy shop: http://breezytulip.etsy.com/
Come have a look!)

Morgan said...

Wow, what a wonderful post. Thank you!

SuzyQ said...

This post took my breath away.
And brought more than one or two tears to my eyes:0)
Just beautiful!
I found your blog by way of Jewel's place " Eyes of Wonder".
I'm so glad I did :0)
Blessings and Peace to you and your lovely family in this season of "quiet" joy.

abigail said...

You did the right thing, as you know, with a touch of wisdom and grace.

Today's the Feast of St. Nicholas. Did Corynn leave a shoe out last night? :) In all your spare time, you could teach Corynn about the man himself. (When Millie saw a picture of Pope Benedict in the newspaper after he was newly...poped (?), she said, "I know who THAT is; it's St. Nicholas!"

abigail said...


And because I forgot to do more than imply it, this was a beautifully written post.

Kimberly said...

Rebecca that is beautiful and definitely brought tears to my eyes! I wish I had had your wisdom when my children were the age of yours! You are such a good mama!

4bitts said...

I have been combatting relatives/family friends for a while now on this subject. Well, I think you've written out my feelings exactly. Could I ask your permission to copy/paste this post (or create a link to it) on my blog so that I can share your experience to help enlighten my own circle?

Rebecca said...

of course you may, 4bitts. I appreciate you asking. I would appreciate you including a link, though. Thanks!

4bitts said...

Just posted a link. Thanks Again.


rach said...

I have so much to say about this subject that my comment could end up as long as your post, so I'll just say this. Please show me one child, who upon finding out that Santa was make believe, responded by questioning the realness of Jesus.

Rebecca said...

Rach~ I am the first one to admit that I don't KNOW the whole world, so providing you with an answer to your question gives you an unfair advantage. I didn't question Jesus after finding out about Santa Claus-but later in life I DID question the truth of it...and perhaps that might have been because of my uneasiness of all the stories I had been told. I don't know.

The question for me is this: is the Santa myth WORTH it just in CASE?!? I am not a psychic so I don't KNOW the future effects of my decisions, but personally, I don't want to take that chance with my family.

I am not judging. I LIKE playing Santa Claus and had a hard time letting go of it. Because-it's FUN. Other parents can play the Santa game-more power to them! I would never say they were less of Christians or more immature. I simply shared what convicted me, why, and how I dealt with it in MY family. So, no need to get defensive.

rach said...

I'm not defensive; I'm annoyed. I really don't have a problem with a parent choosing not to participate in the Santa tradition. It's your right as a parent to raise your children any way you choose. I get annoyed because those who take the route you've chosen can't simply do Christmas without Santa. You instead have to insinuate or just flat out say that to allow children to believe in Santa will somehow turn them into rude, obnoxious, materialistic members of a trampling mob.

There are plenty of well-manered, respectful, non-materialistic children who enjoy believing in Santa. My daughter is only 15 months old, but when she's old enough, she will believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny, the toothfairy, and anything else I can think of that might make her stretch her imagination and smile.

As far as lying to your kids - are you saying that you absolutely tell your kids the truth about everything? What do you tell the 3 year old who wants to know why the lady in the grocery store is so fat? Or the 5 year old who wants to know where babies come from? Parents never lie to their children - please!

I do believe that parents should create a trusting environment for their children. I just don't believe that finding out that Santa is make believe when you're 8 or 9 or 10 can or will shatter that trust. (or make you question Jesus). Most children I know figure out for themselves that Santa isn't real when they reach the age where they are able to reason and think logically about some of the aspects of the story. Learning to reason and discern fact from fiction is an important skill for children to have and while there are many, many ways for them to learn it, once they know it, they can definitely apply it to Santa.

You believed in Santa, I believed in Santa, and pretty much every adult I know believed in Santa... And we turned out ok. We still trust our parents. None of us trampled any store employees while Christmas shopping this year.

I don't care if your child believes in Santa or not, but to say it's because you'll never lie to her lest she one day question Jesus is absurd. Teach your child to be intelligent enough to know the difference between Santa and Jesus and lie to her when she asks where babies come from.

abigail said...
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abigail said...
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Rebecca said...

Before I address the main disagreement here, I want to clarify something that needs it. I guess my words could have been misconstrued and I don't want to have implied or have my reader feel that a certain message is implied. I do NOT think that all people who encourage the belief in Santa Claus turn out to with shoddy morals and will trample the next innocent bystander that walks by. Anyone who WOULD think that is foolish. Nor do I believe that Santa Claus naturally breeds greed. Up until this month MY children believed in Santa Claus and my Corynn only ever asked for one thing. Last years was SUNGLASSES for Pete's sake! Greed is something made manifest by the parents' willingness to accomodate and thus, children always push the envelope for MORE. So no, Santa doesn't in ESSENCE, breed greed although the figure who makes dreams come true wouldn't stay so wonderful if He didn't return all that the child dreams for. So...it is an added pressure on parents to perform.

My point was not to correlate the two-but to share what pushed me over the top. I LOVED Santa and didn't WANT to break the news-but reading those things and what society has become helped me to overcome silly, cultural traditions. I hope that is more clear, because I never intended to link the two and imply that IF Santa, THEN "all these bad things". Not so, AT ALL.

NOW that THAT important disclaimer has been made: your last question sums up your point and it seems that's where our differences lie. (no pun intended)

I don't think there is ever any warrant to lying, except in the case of protecting and saving a life (as in the case of the midwives) and I believe Scripture only reinforces that fact. No where in the Bible does it say Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness...except when talking to your children.

I would never lie to my children about where babies come from or why the person in the store is fat, and frankly, I don't really understand WHY one would be tempted to do so. It wouldn't help the situation at all, only make answering the questions later on. There are very real, very important lessons that can be learned from answering all questions with honesty, so long as the answers are age appropriate.

This is such a great topic, I think I will expound in a blog post but I lack the time to do so this morning.

I appreciate your difference of opinion, and respect it...and I moreso appreciate your discussion written in a kind way. No hate mail at all, and for that I am grateful. I always enjoy a good DISCUSSION.

I promise I will expound upon my "truth" theories in a post very soon. Maybe tonight if opportunity arises. So check back!

abigail said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rach said...

I first came across this post in a link from 4bitts, one of my oldest friends. The following is a comment I made on her blog about this topic. A few comments are specific to her, but the overall message fits here. I'll let you read it and then be done with this discussion.
The only other comments I have are these:
1. I completely agree with giving "age appropriate" answers, but "age appropriate," by its very definition is never the whole truth. And not telling the whole truth is in effect, lying.
2. I do believe that when your child is old enough to ask for the truth about Santa, you should tell them. I just think you should let them enjoy the story as long as they will.
3. I really do not have any problem at all with you or anyone else deciding to tell the truth about Santa. My problems with your post were the statements you made about trust, materialism, and Jesus. But, your last comment explained that a little better. Thank you.

Here's the comment from 4bitts' blog:

I'm passionate about the magic of childhood, about kids being kids, about children being allowed to dream about and believe in things that aren't real. The real world and "truth" will hit them soon enough. Why force it upon them any sooner than we have to?

I'm not saying that you should lie to your children for the sake of lying. I'm only saying that to deny children one of the joys of childhood because it makes you feel better isn't right. It doesn't really even bother me that you've decided not to let them believe in Santa as much as it bothers me that you or anyone else would equate the tradition of Santa with the truth of Jesus. Or suggest that to find out the truth about Santa would cause a child to question Jesus.

I remember the year I found out that Santa wasn't real. I felt like I'd just figured out the biggest secret out there. I had successfully reasoned my way through a tall tale... my first in what was to be a long line of "stackin' 'em up and knockin' 'em down" I knew the truth about Santa - now I was officially a member of the Big Kids Club. I had to "pretend" Santa for [my little sister] for a couple more years, which was just as fun. Its a part of growing up - a rite of passage. Like I said before, choosing not to believe is ok with me. But, suggesting that those who do choose to enjoy this tradition are creating a situation where their children will later mistrust them is wrong.

My hope is that [my daughter] does learn to question everything - Santa, Jesus, her parents... and that I'm there to guide her in finding the answers to every one of those questions. I'd never want to hand her all the answers and hope she just trusts me.

The rampant consumerism of Christmas disappoints me but I still believe in the magic of Santa.

Jean Marie Bibby said...

Thank you for taking the time to make me stop and think things through.
We did tell Luke last year there was no Santa Clause, but the fact that were was a man named Saint Nicholas, etc and so forth.
Santa as the spirit of Christmas is nuts! I am not sad for the fact that I didn't want to have to tell him there was no Santa after telling him for x amount of years there was. I remember my experience as a child was heart breaking.
I never want them to question Jesus, but want them to question the world. :-) Thank you so much.
I love you dearly, my friend.
I hope the kids like their gifts, they are already on their way. Why do you have to live so far away?! Good thing I'm not in control. :-)

Melodie said...

Thank You so much for this post! I have been toiling over this very subject for some time. My sons are only 2 yrs and 5 months so I wanted to figure out how we were going to approach such topics as Santa in relation to our faith. I didn't want the hollow fantasy of Santa to get in the way of the richness of the true meaning of the season. Yet, I didn't want them to miss out on the fun of Santa. Your post has clarified that choice and presented options for me that I had not once thought of. I will be talking this post over with my husband for his input so we can start talking it over with the family (and pray they take it well!)
Thank you and God Bless!