Along with about half of my small town, I took my kids to visit Santa Claus behind city hall today. We knew it was the real Santa Claus because he had a real beard, not an obviously fake white beard like some imposters.
We stood in a long line and chatted with other families before we made it up to the big man. Many people wore Santa hats, elf ears, and ugly Christmas sweaters. While waiting, we decorated sugar cookies, drank hot chocolate, and my two older kids wrote letters to Santa.
I know some ultra conservative Christians who don’t allow the myth of Santa Claus into their homes. They say they don’t want to lie to their kids, and they also typically ban the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny as well.
Promoting the story of a benevolent man in a red velvet suit who flies around the world delivering presents on Christmas Eve to all the good boys and girls can only strengthen a child’s faith in God. Sure, the belief in Santa and his elves fades as a child grows up, but following the fun myth instills faith within young hearts. It’s as hard for a child’s (or adult’s) mind to fully grasp the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as it is to believe in Santa Claus, but Santa has a physical manifestation that makes him all the more real.
At least, he is real to the youngest among us. But I see no conflict of interest in telling my kids that Santa is real, even though I know they discover the truth in a few years, and then asking them to have faith in a God whose face they will never see this side of heaven. It’s easier for a child to believe in heaven, angels, and the great flood that covered the earth if their impressionable minds soak up fanciful characters with tangible evidence.
We are definitely a full-on Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and even magical leprechaun household. Once on a blue moon, the Smurfs even paid my kids a visit. They dyed the milk blue and left a note complete with little blue Smurf footprints across the page. My kids talk with equal wonderment about how Smurfette made it through the portal, how Santa manages to get around the whole world in one night, and what heaven will look like.
I love it when my kids ask who is more powerful: Santa or God. It’s a great opportunity to tell them about God’s omnipresence and supreme sovereignty, except with smaller words that they can understand. Santa Claus is super cool, because he watches over kids and brings them presents, but I remind them that God is even cooler, because He invented Santa.
And so this afternoon, the kids sat on Santa’s lap for a fun holiday picture. Then they came home and played with their Little People nativity scene. They all know the story of Jesus’ birth and how that is the real reason for the season, but that won’t stop this Mrs. Claus from making sure they each have a toy signed “From: Santa” under the tree. Holding proof of their belief will only strengthen their faith.