How Christians tell their kids about Santa

Well, not all Christians. Mark Driscoll. I can’t include all because he’s only writing about his own family, but he suggests others explain Santa Claus his way:

When it comes to cultural issues like Santa, Christians have three options: (1) we can reject it, (2) we can receive it, or (3) we can redeem it.

Down the page he explains the history of Nicholas, he of “Jolly Old Saint” fame. He also claims that the best way to deal with Santa and all the lovely imagination of a fat fellow able to shimmy down chimneys to deliver gifts is to explain to kids the history behind the stories. This is an important step to do because kids need the truth from their parents, all the time and, writes Driscoll,

Conversely, we ask that they be honest with us and never lie. Since we also teach our children that Jesus is a real person who did perform real miracles, our fear is that if we teach them fanciful, make-believe stories as truth, it could erode confidence in our truthfulness where it really matters.

I think most atheists will agree that Jesus the man probably existed. Jesus the man probably did have some followers on account of his charisma and his dreams for a better future. But we also know for a fact that everything written about Jesus got written down long after he died and people who told stories about him before that point likely exaggerated his abilities in much the same way as stories about Nicholas battling demons somehow became “You Better Watch Out!” Why is the truth about Saint Nick’s mythology important to explain to kids while the dubious water into wine crap gets a pass? Hmm?

So, we distinguish between lies, secrets, surprises, and pretend for our kids. We ask them not to tell lies or keep secrets, but do teach them that some surprises (like gift-giving) and pretending (like dressing up) can be fun and should be encouraged. We tell them the truth and encourage them to have fun watching Christmas shows on television and even sitting on Santa’s lap for a holiday photo if they so desire.

I expect atheists who are parents would land on the same side here. Let kids have a little magic at Christmastime. They’ve got the rest of their lives to deal with truth of reality.


Edit Dec. 13 — saw this today and had to have it (via)

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