Joy and Santa

This question has come up more than once this Christmas season and I would like to share with you my answer.

"Why do Christians celebrate Santa, and lights and presents? Isn't that wrong? Doesn't it have pagan roots?"

My answer.

My take on it, for believers who choose to engage in some of the traditions, is this. When Christ came, it was a big joyous occasion. The angels heralded it, told us that JOY to the WORLD!! They are more engaged and public around his birth than any other event. We're meant to remember His birth with joy and celebration! These traditions get us "in the spirit" of joy. They amp us up, give little kids something to be excited by. So partaking in them is actually good so long as we connect the dots and complete the loop and get that associated joy connected to the birth of Christ. The dichotomy of 'yeah we know it's about Jesus, but we're excited about Santa' should eventually be coached to helping each person focus that sense of Joy on the depth of what Christ has done, so that by the time they are mature adults in Christ they can say 'I am sincerely joyful each year at Christmas, because of Christ.' For me is about this discovery of Joy. If we take out all the 'fun' of Christmas to kids, we are teaching them in fact the exact opposite. While trying to combat the many 'evils' of Christmas, we end up teaching our kids 'Being a Christian at Christmas is a drag, because we don't get to do the fun things the other kids do.' and it makes it much more difficult for them, as adults, to become truly joyful about Christ. Not impossible, just, harder.

I don't offer any judgement on Christians who go the other way and choose to disengage from Christmas, because you have to do as the Spirit leads you.

I realize my answer sounds like a justification for doing what I want anyway, but I had to seriously consider this as a young parent when one of my good friends challenged me on the topic.  So it isn't a justification it is a real life choice that I made before having kids.

My kids are teenagers now, and haven't believed in Santa for a long time.  From a very young age they understood that giving was better than receiving and are very generous people.  They have never felt 'lied to' nor 'deceived' about Santa, and in our house are Christmas traditions involved daily Advent readings, a 'Happy Birthday Jesus' cake, etc.

We have always kept our traditions Christ focused while still enjoying and engaging in the other traditions. So our kids were able to move easily into the joy of Christmas being about Christ.

We have also, having raised them overseas, have had the chance to engage with meaningful community during the Christmas season, as well as serving others (and escaping commercialism). And so the kids have grown up with this excitement for Christmas that doesn't revolve around what they are going to get.

For them it centers on, what we get to do together, what Christ did, and what they can do for others.

I'll admit to being a classic overthinker, and to having a strategy for this from before they were born.  My wife and I have been accused of having too many Christmas traditions, but I guarantee you, that every one of them has the side effect of accomplishing strong moral character in our kids that we have already begun to see fruit from.

So before anyone goes around bashing other Christians who engaged in the holiday spirit a little-too-much for their tastes, please consider this perspective.

Oh, and Merry Christmas!