In the last few days a friend (Thanks Shelly!) posted this article from Our Muddy Boots about why that family chooses to not celebrate Christmas with Santa. This article hit me very close to home, because for many of the same reasons we choose not to celebrate Christmas with Santa. He doesn’t come down the chimney and leave presents for our kids. He isn’t watching over us to see if we have been naughty or nice. In our house, Santa is just another character…along with Rudolph, Mickey Mouse, and Dora. While I know many of you celebrate Santa in your homes I know that choosing to either not celebrate Santa or the minimize his involvement in the holiday is becoming more popular is some circles and so I wanted to give you some ideas of how to have a Santa-free or Santa-reduced Christmas.
Here is what we do…
We never told the kids the story of Santa coming down the chimney. We taught them the story of St. Nicholas (although we aren’t Catholic, it is still a good story). We differentiate between Santa Claus the character and St. Nicholas. We reinforce this each year by watching Santa movies that clearly portray Santa as make-believe character (The Santa Clause series, Rudolph, etc.) versus movies that portray the story of St. Nicholas (VeggieTales St. Nicholas). This very easily establishes Santa as a character similar to other characters we love. The Disney Princesses are favorites around our house but we know (even though we met them as “real” people at Disney World) they are made-up characters; and the same is true for Santa.
There are other things we do to minimize Santa’s involvement in our holiday season…
We open stockings on Christmas Eve. After church on Christmas Eve we come home and open stockings, which always have 3 things…Christmas pajamas, a new movie, and a small toy (play-doh, hot wheels, etc.). The kids aren’t told that Santa filled the stockings. We then eat dinner (always something made in the slow cooker!), put on Christmas PJs, and watch a new movie as family with hot cocoa and cookies. Often the movie has Santa in it. We casually talk about how Santa on TV is like Mickey Mouse (or whatever other character is currently their favorite). We then have a time of family communion and prayer for the coming year. This keeps the focus on Jesus and not Santa. The movie and communion and prayer time often includes friends who don’t have family to visit on Christmas Eve. By ending the night with a focus on God, prayer, and friends, we once again reduce the involvement of Santa.
On Christmas morning we start with Happy Birthday Jesus cake and reading the Bible accounts of Jesus’ birth. Once again, this removes Santa from the equation and helps reduce him from the primary focus to just another character in a TV show. We don’t decorate our house with Santa decorations, instead choosing to use Nativity theme decorations or “plain” ornaments with no characters at all mingled with family ornaments…a new one each year that we date plus special ornaments from the year each child was born for both the child and the family.
We do not try to remove the character of Santa from Christmas, we only try to put that character in proper focus, with the emphasis of our Christmas celebrations being put on Jesus, family, and fiends.