The Great Santa Debate

I have seen other folks discussing Santa and the controversy that can sometimes surround him so I figured I’d throw my two cents into the ring. I grew up in a Christian Methodist home complete with Sunday School and church on Sundays. We were made to go up until we were Confirmed wherein we were then considered responsible for our own faith and decisions involving our faith and could decide whether to attend regularly or not. In the United Methodist Church, Confirmation refers to the decision a person makes to respond to God's grace with intentional commitment, publicly reaffirming his or her baptismal vows before the congregation. It is offered in the early teen years and involves classes, studies, field trips, etc. which culminate in a ceremony during service to publicly affirm your faith. For the most part, after Confirmation I continued to attend on a semi-regular basis. I enjoyed going to church and youth group however as a teenager I didn’t always want to get up in time to be there on time. Hence the semi-regular basis. As an adult I went through periods of not going at all, going every week and points in between. As a mother now, I am trying to be more regular with attendance so that Reagan can have a faith-based upbringing as well.

Back to Santa. In our Christian home, Santa visited every year. I can still remember the excitement and belief and how magical it was on Christmas morning to awake to see that he had come. The whole idea of Santa is wonderful to me and I have many cherished memories from those days of belief. After I discovered the truth, the only negative feelings I had about it were that it wasn’t true. It never occurred to me to distrust my parents because they “lied” to me. As a matter of fact, I am grateful that they perpetuated that myth so that I can remember the magic.

Counter-balancing the commercialism of Santa were plenty of church events and discussions about the birth of Jesus and Nativity scenes and traditional songs. I remember being equally excited and in awe of the blessed event and that tandem excitement made Christmas that much more special. One of my most cherished pieces of the Christmases of my youth is a Nativity set that belonged to my late maternal Grandmother who died when I was 10. She would set it up each year and tell me not to touch it when I was little. It is now my Nativity set and each crack and chip on it represents all the love in our family throughout the years. Even after all the years of Santa, it is the setting of baby Jesus’ birth that I cherish the most.

So, with all of the wondrousness that I remember from my childhood Christmases, we welcome Santa into our home. I want Reagan to have the same magical experiences that I had as a child and knowing how fleeting childhood is and the short, short window for pure magic, we will tell her the stories of Santa and his elves and his reindeer and the North Pole and all else that is Santa. She will also be taught that the true meaning of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus. We started this early with her – on her very first Christmas, when she was only 3 weeks old, we began a tradition I have always known I would begin with my child. We sang Happy Birthday to baby Jesus before doing anything else that day. We will do this every Christmas so that first and foremost we will always be reminded that the day is to celebrate Jesus’ birth and we will sing to the baby Jesus that is part of my Grandmom’s Nativity set. And the presents will be for her, from Santa, on behalf of baby Jesus’ big celebration.

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