Tuesday, December 9, 2014

When It's Time to Come Clean About Santa

I rarely write blog posts directed toward a particular religious audience, but this post is directed at a subset of Christian parents out there. My Facebook feed has been a-flutter for weeks with distressed parents whose children - in the late stages of elementary school - are finally catching up to their peers and discovering the elaborate ruse that loving adults in their lives have created for them every year involving stockings, gifts, and the hotly-debated presence of a man from the North Pole. 

Every year, parents freak out about the discovery and the distress their kids are feeling. Just like I don't like to deliver bad news about poverty without a constructive solution involving kindness and generosity, I don't enjoy the idea of a parent delivering this harsh news about the Big Man and then just releasing kids to their own rooms to stew about it. 
Yes, Virginia...there is a Santa Claus...and it's YOU.
Did I blow your mind, Virginia?

Consider an invitation to be part of the magic as a way to ease your children from the "getter" state of mind to a higher level of expressing love as a "giver." In my interfaith home, we adapted the tradition early on, so that the children knew that they were as much Santa as anyone and had a role in filling stockings in a clandestine way on Christmas Eve. (They get to put the candy and clementine oranges in) Of course, the littlest one still didn't believe me when she was three and swore she heard sleigh bells on the roof, but she thanks me now as she helps her 3rd grade friends cope with their crumbling faith.
My appeal to you this Christmas...end the increasingly complex web of lies and transform the stress into something beautiful and constructive. Invite your children to be part of the magic of giving to children who are excluded from the Santa tradition because of economic struggles or other reasons.There are many ways to do it, but here are a few hands-on to consider:
  • Pack a Shoebox for Operation Christmas Child to send much needed toiletries, toys, and love to kids living in poverty overseas with Samaritan's Purse
  • Pick a name off of a local gift tree at a grocery store or your church and let your kids be Santa for young children in need in your community
  • Give to Toys for Tots at a local dropoff center
  • Send a Chanukah card or gift to the children of your Jewish friends. You probably didn't notice how carefully many of them kept your secret through the years anyway while hiding their own tears because the myth suggested that they were permanently on the "Naughty List." 

If you thought it was charming to see your little ones believing in the myth and the magic, wait until you see how beautiful the truth can be when you see your babies growing into giving and caring children fully participating in the spirit of Christmas!

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