Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Day My World Turned Upside Down

Growing up, I couldn’t wait for December 25th. But, for me, December 24th held all the excitement. My sisters, mom, and I baked cookies for Santa, peeled carrots for Rudolph and the reindeer, wrote notes to Santa, set up the kid’s table by the fireplace so Santa wouldn’t miss our notes and treats, looked out in the sky to see if we could see his sleigh anywhere, and eventually went to bed—vowing we’d secretly wake up and hide in the coat closet until we heard Santa sneaking through the fireplace.

I remember vividly the day I learned the truth. I was around eight or nine years old (I can’t remember exactly because it was so traumatic), and in the middle of a petting zoo on a family vacation, I asked my parents the question every parent dreads: “Is Santa Claus real?”

I can still see the scene with remarkable clarity. My mom looked at my dad and said, “Should we tell her?” They sat me down on the petting zoo bench and broke the news—“No, honey, Santa’s not real.”

I cried so hard. “No, he IS real,” I screamed. “He IS!” Onlookers gawked. “What is going on?” they wondered. As my crying-to-the-point-of-hyperventaliting continued, my mom and dad decided to try to change the story by telling me that he was real after all. But there was nothing they could do. I already knew the truth. In fact, I took the news harder than learning of my parents’ divorce a few years later.

I vowed that someday, when I had children of my own, I would protect them at all costs from the crushing news that Santa’s not real. It’s a white lie that seems innocent enough. But is it? When you believe something so strongly and so passionately, only to find out it’s all a lie, it is devastating. Absolutely devastating.

Furthermore, as a child, I knew in the back of my mind that Jesus played into Christmas somewhere (the whole baby –in-a-manger, Silent-Night thing), but it was really about Santa to me. What was Santa going to leave me? What was Santa going to write to me? What was I going to write to Santa? What treats were we going to leave him? Santa and Christmas were like best friends forever.

For me, there are more serious implications for perpetuating the Santa story. If we believe Jesus is real, but we teach our kids that Santa is real too, when they find out that Santa is a fake, are they going to think that Jesus is make-believe too?

The evidence is very compelling that Jesus is not only a real historical figure (unlike Santa Claus), He is the promised Messiah and Savior of the world. While you won’t find Santa’s Workshop in the North Pole, I believe with all my being that Jesus is alive today in heaven—a real place out there somewhere. Scripture affirms that He is coming again, not as a humble baby, but as a powerful King for which every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings. While December 25th is debatable as His birthday (it probably wasn’t the actual day), the fact that He came to earth to die on the Cross for my sins so that I could live with Him and my family and friends in heaven for ever and ever is worth celebrating again and again every year.

That is why, to me, Christmas will always be about Jesus. It trumps Santa every time. Although the truth about Santa turned my world upside down, I am so thankful that the truth of Jesus makes my world right--eternally.

I know there are plenty of people who don’t agree with me on this one, and who believe differently than I do. If you are one of them and would like to discuss Christianity from a non-antagonistic position, I welcome you to email me at


  1. It's so refreshing to see somebody else who believes that telling kids about Santa = lying. We punish our kids for lying, and yet we lie to them about Santa. We don't do Santa at our house and people claim we are being cruel to our kids. But I want my kids to believe me when I tell them about Jesus. I don't want my kids to be confused that I would punish them for lying but then lied to them. It's not a hard concept, so not sure why so many parents overlook it.

  2. Hubby and I disagree on this point. He sees no harm in Santa. I agree with your view that I don't want to lie to my kid when I'm telling her that lying is wrong. The world is teaching her about Santa and it's hard to know how to respond. She's 3 this year and I think it will be the last year we can squeak by without taking a stand that Santa is a fake. I don't want her to "spoil" it for her friends at school, but... Here's praying that hubby and I will come to an understanding about how to approach it soon.

  3. I've also often wondered about how the 'truths' about Santa and Jesus can be reconciled. I've never had to tell my children about Santa. If they hint or ask about it, I just say, with a conspirational tone and look on my face that let's them know that I know how grown up they are, "If you don't believe, he won't bring presents." I think Santa is a wonderful tradition to represent the spirit of joy and giving.
    Furthermore, when the opportunity presents itself, I bear simple but fervent testimony that I know that Jesus lives. I know the Spirit will tell our children that He is real, especially since He is our focus all the time, not just at Christmastime.

  4. I agree with you. Telling children that Santa or the Christ Child is teh bearer of presents at Christmas may seem like innocent fun, but as you have experienced for yourself it is not. I find it ironic that an occasion that is supposedly meant to honor Jesus becomes a time to deceive children. I chose to stop celebrating Christmas many years ago because I learned that the bible does not say when Jesus was born. And although no date is mentioned, we can safely conclude it was not on December 25th because the bible says that the shepherds were “living outdoors” tending to their flocks at night in the vicinity of Bethlehem. (Luke 2:8) The cold, rainy season usually began in October, and the shepherds, - especially in the colder highlands, such as those around Bethlehem – brought their sheep into protected shelters at night. The coldest weather, sometimes accompanied by snow, occurred in December. The bible provides evidence however, that Jesus was born sometime during the ancient Jewish month of Ethanim (September – October). Yet, the early Christians whom had accompanied Jesus in his ministry, never celebrated his birth on any date. Rather, in harmony with his command they commemorated only his death. (Luke 22:17-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

    The Christmas Encyclopedia explains that the celebration of December 25 really has nothing to do with Jesus Christ but instead evolved from pagan Roman festivals held at year’s end, about the time of the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. The word pagan – means follower of a polytheistic religion (worshiping many gods) non-Christian. Those festivals included the Saturnalia, in honor of Saturn, god of agriculture, “and the combined festivals of two sun gods, the Roman Sol and the Persian Mithra”. Those pagan festivals began to be “Christianized” in the year 350, when Pope Julius I declared December 25 to be Christ’s birthday. The religious leaders became more interested in making Christianity fashionable to the pagan masses than they were in teaching truth. Hence, they gradually adopted popular pagan religious festivals and labeled them “Christian.”

    When examined in the light of Bible, virtually every facet of Christmas is either pagan in origin or a distortion of Bible accounts. John 8:32 says: “And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” This is how I felt after I learned the truth about Christmas and many other subjects. The truth liberates us from customs that displease God and can even harm us. I realized I could show appreciation to others by means of gifts at any time of the year and in away our budget allows. God is a happy God and he encourages us to be cheerful givers at all times. And more importantly, when we live in harmony with that truth, we bring joy to God’s heart. (Proverbs 27:11)

    Jesus Christ said “The true worshippers will worship the Father with spirit and truth, for the indeed, the Father is looking for suchlike ones to worship him.” (John 4:23) When God looks into our heart, does he see someone that yearns for truth? We should all hope to be seen this way by God. Jesus said: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3) Our lives, children’s lives and eternal future depend on us taking the time to learn the truth about God and Jesus Christ.

  5. We have received much grief over not jumping on the Santa bandwagon and this scrutiny comes from other believers... so frustrating!
    OUr children do not miss out just because we do not leave cookies for Santa or leave presents from the big jolly man in a red coat. They receive a few gifts from Mom and Dad and the focus of the day is on what Christ did for us - how He stepped down from his throne, surrounded by angels to make a manger his throne and be surrounded by a cold, sin filled world.
    My children are not missing out on the "magic" of Christmas, they are embracing the miracle of the Christ child.
    They know the story of Saint Nicholas and how Santa became to be, they know it is just that... a story. They know the reality of Jesus Christ because we read about him in the Bible, hear about him at church and through the radio, and see him move in astonishing ways in our lives. Our God is alive and that is worth celebrating!

  6. We are Catholic, and it works out quite nicely because of our belief in the Communion of Saints watching over us and praying for us from heaven.

    The story of the 4th century Bishop St. Nicholas, and how his spirit lives on through the earthly tradition of Santa Claus, with earthly parents 'helping out,' doesn't feel so much like lying at all.

    Also, in my family we do both Santa AND Baby Jesus, and we simply emphasize the Nativity of Our Lord, with music, nativity toys and books, and celebration of Advent leading up to Christmas, and the awesome, special Christmas Mass, that Santa almost pales by comparison. No kidding.

    I came across this post on this subject which has some interesting points:

    May God richly bless you during this glorious season!

  7. Lots more interesting discussion on this topic is here:

  8. I know we can't get around the Santa in our culture, so we've tried to emphasize that we are all santas for other people. Of course, it also helps that we were helped out a few CHristmases ago, so it feels a little more "real" to them.

  9. I made the choice not to tell my eldest daughter (now 18) about Santa when she was younger because, as a single mother with a deadbeat ex did not need another male figure in her life disappointing her when he could not deliver that super expensive gift (mum could not afford) on Christmas morning...At the time I was not a Christian...

    As both she and I have grown older I do have regrets about this decision and do feel she missed a little of the earlier magic of Christmas...Even later when I found Jesus and listen to those around me go over this same subject from a Christian stand point, my own sisters children never knew of Santa, only the birth of our Savior, but were taught to respect those children that did believe and not "spoil" it for them...Just like the tooth fairy.

    I am blessed to be doing it all again with my second daughter (now 2) and this time we will be incorporating Santa into our Christmas'...but as a fairy tail figure like Snow White or Cinderella...Jesus is the focus all year in our house and Christmas is a great reminder of the extraordinary gift he was to the world... But though toys and other worldly presents are fun, they can not compare to God's gift to us, and for this reason, why not give the fleeting joy of those worldly things in our childhood to a childhood figure...and then keep the ever lasting gift of life in our hearts always by giving thanks to Jesus daily not just one day a year.

    Blessings Kelsie