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Nov 28 2016

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Help! How do I handle Santa? Parenting wisdom from a mom who’s been there

Help! How do I handle Santa?

I didn’t think much about Santa when my newborn was nestled in his bassinet. Life as a family of three was new–and overwhelming–and came with a thousand parenting questions. Santa, as an issue, wasn’t on my radar. I had the “Baby’s First Christmas” onesie. Baby was ready for Christmas–he was happy just as he was. He had all he needed: mommy’s milk, a clean diaper, naps and bed time–plus lots of snuggles and loving’. He wasn’t going to remember it anyway, I thought. Most of Christmas celebration that year was for us parents. Christmas came and went without his being remotely aware.

My important role as a parent

Parent role to guideAs he grew, so did his awareness of the world around him. He became an expert studier of life. As a parent, I became more aware of my import role of guiding him–and I felt it. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home, so I had no context of what Christian parents did to make Christmas “Christian.” Our family celebrated Christmas,  for sure, but it wasn’t about Jesus–it was about gift giving.

A Christian Christmas

You might be thinking: Isn’t Christmas a Christian holiday? Yes and no. Christmas is a holiday, but the ways and reasons people celebrate Christmas varies. Christmas is not celebrated exclusively by Christians. In fact, many people enjoy Christmas without much thought about Christ’s birth. Some Christians celebrate Christmas by adding traditions to remember the birth of Jesus–like Advent–or reading the Christmas story together as a family.Advent

So, as a Christian mom, I desired to teach my child the importance of Jesus’ birth. I wanted the season to be another way to plant seeds of faith in his heart so that, in time, he would come to understand the gospel and believe in Jesus for himself. How could I do this during Christmas which is often filled with hustle-bustle, parties, presents, trees and decorations, and a Santa on every corner?

Experience has taught me well

I can’t tell you want to do with your family–you’ll have to figure that out on your own. But my little one is now a young adult, and we’ve added three more to our family. I’ve learned a few things since then. As a mom who has asked the question of how to handle Christmas in a way that honors God and leads my children well, I want to help you think through this one part of the holiday season: Santa. Unless you are never going to interact with the world around you, you need to answer how you plan, as a family, to respond to Santa.

Before you think about Santa

Understand that not everyone will agree with you on how you celebrate Christmas. The pressure to conform is powerful. For the sake of avoiding conflict, you might acquiesce to someone else’s ideas–like your parents who feel strongly one way or the other. That’s your choice, but a better idea is think it through and decide for yourself what you believe–and run with it.

Remember, you are free to change your mind, learn a new perspective, and grow. Parenting is a journey. God never expected you to have all the answers, he wants to be your source in the questions that come with parenting.

Also, be kind to yourself–and to others–when you feel like a parenting failure. Really. Dole out generous portions of grace in every direction–it’s a gift everyone needs.

What about Santa

There are many ideas floating around about whether or not to include Santa in the Christmas festivities. There are two prominent positions: Yes, Santa and No, Santa. Some try to avoid it altogether. At some point, even if you don’t mention it, your child will ask. Are you ready to answer? You’re the parent, you get to decide what is right for your family.

In this series, I will share with you the following:

  • Reasons to include Santa in your Christmas tradition: Santa’s real (Wink, wink)
  • Reasons to not include Santa in your Christmas tradition: Santa’s not real (Just the facts)
  • How we handle Santa as our family (It’s not either of the two)
  • How my kids have responded to our way to handle Santa during Christmas (Surprise. Children have a mind of their own.)

Here is one reason for a “Yes! Santa is part of our Christmas”

Tradition

Most people I know who celebrate Christmas with Santa do so because that was their tradition growing up. They were raised with the “Better watch out…Santa Claus is coming to town.” They traveled to the mall and took pictures. Santa captured the magical fun of the holiday and was an essential part of what made Christmas special to them. Being old enough to know Santa wasn’t real became a right of passage. Older children enjoyed watching younger siblings squeal with giddy delight over the man in the red suit, but they knew better. The fun of it outweighed any perceived harm. It wasn’t (and isn’t) looked at as a lie, it fits into the category of fantasy. Imagination is fun. Right?

Extended family, friends, the world all around. They all have their own ideas. They want you to be part of what they do. Going along with the crowd is a reason some people choose to keep Santa part of the celebration.

If you include Santa as a part of your Christmas, there are many who join you. Some have added a little Elf on the Shelf as part of their tradition.

What about you? How do you handle Santa?

It’s surprising how heated one topic can be. I am open to hearing what your thoughts are about Santa and how you do Christmas.

Please note: I will not publish offensive comments. I will, however, publish ideas that differ from mine.

Next week, I will have a post on Reasons for a No! Santa is not part of our Christmas

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