Jolly Old St. Nicholas....
I began forming my views on Santa long before I even thought about having kids or getting married. Maybe because I tend towards a black and white analytical and critical view of everything, or maybe because I had believed in Santa until I was ten... I am not sure. But I have had strong opinions on the guy for awhile.
Let me first of all say that if you are reading this and you do Santa that is awesome. My opinion really doesn't matter. If you're comfortable with your traditions and you've arrived at them prayerfully then you are probably doing the right thing for your family. We all have the freedom to change things up too if you read this or other blogs and realize maybe you don't want to "do Santa".
This blog post probably won't be anything new or revolutionary. There are dozens of blogs about Santa and St. Nick that are more insightful and detailed than this one, and I will link to them. Below is just my heart and what we've decided for our family.
I grew up celebrating St. Nick's Day on December 6th and it was always a lot of fun to see what he would leave outside for us to find. (I still get St. Nick gifts as an adult and the family member has yet to reveal themselves). I've read a whole book on St. Nick called The True St. Nicholas, given to me by a family member trying to convince me to do Santa. The book actually deepened my conviction to not do Santa as I learned that the original St. Nick and the modern day Santa really have hardly anything in common.
As we had started having children we hadn't established whether or not we would do St. Nick's day. Last year I ran across this blog at The Art of Simple about celebrating St. Nick's Day and my heart was rekindled for approaching St. Nick in a Christ honoring way, not as a saint to be glorified, but a man that can point us to Jesus.
We purchased these two books on St. Nick to read the night before or morning of St. Nick's Day.
St. Nicholas, the Real Story of the Christmas Legend
The Story of St. Nicholas
On the morning of St. Nick's they get a new Christmas book, movie, or craft, or some combination thereof. The point is the St. Nick's gifts point them to the true meaning of Christmas. We tell them we are playing the St Nick game and that the gifts are from Mommy and Daddy, since St. Nick is dead of course. It is fun for them to pretend, knowing it is us playing St. Nick.
In the future I'd like to play St. Nick to someone else and have the kids think of a way to bless a poor or needy family, just as St Nick did, as St. Nick followed the example of Jesus.
So that's how we incorporate St. Nick. I really appreciate them learning about the real St. Nick.
We don't do Santa for several reasons. The first being that I see him as a distraction when incorporated in the traditional way on Christmas morning. We don't think he is evil or Satan, but he is a HUGE distraction. We don't think the birth of Christ needs anything extra to make the day more magical. If the incarnation isn't magical enough then we all need to check our hearts and try to really think about how miraculous Christ's birth actually is. Because it truly is... miraculous!
Second of all, because we want to focus on Christ, we try to keep gift-giving to a minimum and to instead focus on giving gifts to Jesus. A great book for this is The King's Christmas List. It is really tough to do Santa and keep gift giving to a minimum. Not impossible, but tricky.
Third, we don't like the theology that modern day Santa teaches. Just think about the words to Santa Claus is Coming to Town. For thoughts on this I turn to Noel Piper. :