December 20, 2013

Yes, Zachary, there IS a Santa Claus

I'm going to make this as simple as I can.

Growing up, the magic of Santa was part of what made Christmas so special to me.  Because of my parents, I also knew that we were celebrating the birth of Jesus and what that meant for humanity and what that meant for us.  Even as children, "Jesus was sent to love us and take away our sins," was easy enough to understand.  For us, Jesus was serious.  Santa was magical.

I'm 32 years old and only just now beginning to scrape the tip of the iceberg about the different kind of magic that comes with knowing and having a relationship with Jesus Christ.  I cannot possibly expect my baby boy to understand that.  We will read the story to him of what we believe to be the true reason we celebrate Christmas every year, and reinforce those values year-round.

But there will also be magic.  There will be awe and wonder.  There will be stories of selflessness and giving because we love, not because we are good. 

There will be Santa.

If my child learns that Santa is not real (either from us, in a gentle way, or from some jerk kid who ruins it for him long before I'm ready to let that part of his innocence be taken away) and then begins to question everything he is told, I see that as a good thing.

I want him to ask questions. I want him to understand why he believes what he does and why we act the way we do based on those beliefs.

If he asks why Santa doesn't come to those who are in lower economic stations, we will hopefully say things like "Baby, we helped Santa those years, when we were selfless and mindful of others and gave to those we could help."

But the magic and awe and wonder I already see in his eyes...whether it's because he can't believe he has these things called feet attached to his legs or because the lights and sparkles of our tree are just too beautiful for him to comprehend...I want to see that for many years.

Then, as he grows older and begins to question things and discover the love that Jesus has for him on a more mature level, and how we can see and emulate Jesus all around us, I look so very forward to seeing a new light in his eyes each time a new realization creates a spark that wasn't there before.

There are so many allegories of faith and love and the supernatural and magical in the belief in Santa and the relationship with Christ, and those parallels can be seen in one of my very favorite pieces of writing: the famous editorial, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" (emphasis mine):

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

I support 100% the choice of other parents and families to not implement the tradition of Santa Claus into their holiday traditions.  However, for my husband and me, this was not even a discussion.  We both remember the magic and the joy, and we cannot wait to experience it on the other side of the coin now as parents.

Z, may you always know the magic of the holiday season, whether it's because of the anticipation of Santa Claus or because of the wonderful heaviness of the knowledge of Christ -- God's ultimate gift to us -- that will bring you to your knees in wonder and gratitude.


  1. We don't do Santa with our kids but I think a big part of the reason we don't is that I didn't grow up with Santa, and neither did Noah. Our presents were under the tree long before Christmas Eve, when we crazy Dutch people opened our presents. After the evening Christmas Eve service.

    My kids know that Santa is not real, but they also know about where the whole Santa thing came from and the good intentions of a man who lived a long time ago. I've also instructed them not to ruin it for their friends, and if a friend of theirs believes in Santa, to let them have that belief. It's not their job to tell their friends that Santa is not real.

    So you go ahead, Mrs. Rausch. :) I love family traditions, and if Santa is a part of yours, more power to you!

  2. I LOVE SANTA!!! For us, the jolly man was a HUGE part of growing up Williams and will also be such for all wee Adamos. Heck, B's cousins still believe in the magic (they may already know about the whole parents-getting-the-gifts thing, but they choose to be blissfully believing) of Santa and I hope B does the same for many years to come. For me, its not about using him as a way to get her to behave (what good does that do me for the other 10 months of the year?!) nor is it a replacement for the true story of Christmas. Its just another way to make this time of year special, sparkling, and truly this day and age kids are growing up so so fast that anything I can do to keep my littles little in their hearts and imaginations, I going to do. Of course I support a parent's decisions to "keep the Christ in Christmas" (I cringe when I say that because of all the jerks out there who use the phrase as a shield), but I don't support the grinchy behavior exhibited by many non-Santa-ers who do their best to show off their self-imposed high-and-mightyness above those parents who still speak of Santa. But you know me...I'm totally out on the bitchy believers...not because they believe, but instead because they're bitchy :). Soap box away! Enjoy Christmas (or any holiday!) however you choose - I hope for everyone that this time is full of love and thankfulness, above all! And also candy. And cookies. And cinnamon rolls. And glazed hams. Mmmm. Belly calls.

  3. I don't remember when I first heard Santa wasn't real, but I do know that I was never "devastated" by hearing that (like I've had some friends tell me).

    We have always done Santa. Santa gets one, maybe two gifts, for the kids each year and it's always a board game or something else that can be enjoyed by the family.

    I'm not sure when my kids stopped believing, but we've always discussed Santa as someone who wants to bring joy to kids and not just a way to get tons and tons of toys and be taught to be selfish. And now we discuss how he is real, because he was a real person who did loving and caring things and parents and others keep that spirit alive by taking over his duties. My kids show that they enjoy giving gifts to others more than receiving, so I think we did it right. We also discuss the Christ part of Christmas, as well as other religions and holidays around this time because we're not very religious- long story there....

  4. I think Santa actually is a wonderful symbol for faith- just because you cannot see it/him/her, just because family, friends, or generous people are the agents of Santa in that no one person is Santa, does not make him any less REAL. Just as we have not met G-d, we have not met Santa. They work through others to make the world a place we want to be. To make life better, happier, sweeter. I think the holiday characters actually teach kids to believe in what they cannot see, in a way teaching them to have faith.