My youngest daughter Kristen came in crying one afternoon, she had been at the neighbors playing, and I naturally assumed she had been fighting with her friend Elizabeth. She ran immediately over to me, and of course I hugged her tightly until the tears stopped. I then began to ask her what had happened.
She looked up at me with her beautiful green eyes brimming with tears and said, “Elizabeth said if I believe in Santa Claus, then I can’t be a Christian. Cause Santa Claus is not a Christian belief. She said he wasn’t real. Is that true, Mom? I like Santa.”
So I sat her down upon my knee and I began to talk with her about Christmas. I reminded her that Jesus was born on Christmas day.
To which she answered, “I know that He came to save us all from our sins. I learned that in Sunday school. But they never said Santa wasn’t real.”
I knew she was not quite ready to give up on the belief in Santa yet, and although we were Christian, and had talked with our children many times about the true meaning of Christmas. I saw no harm in allowing her to believe in the mythical Santa Claus if she wanted to; so after a great deal of thought I asked her why she thought we gave gifts on Christmas day?
She thought about it for a minute then she said smiling bright, “Because it is Jesus’ birthday so we give each other presents to remind us of His birth.”
I smiled and said, “What a smart little girl you are, that is right we do give gifts in honor of his birth. Then I reminded her of the midnight visits of the Shepherd’s on the night Jesus was born, and also of the Three Wise Men who had come from far in the east to worship the newborn baby king.”
She of course said, “I know that Mom. They came and brought him gifts of gold, and fraken-something, and myrth. But what does this all have to do with Santa Claus?”
I laughed and said, “Yes, they did bring Him gifts, but they were gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And if you will give me a minute I will explain it all to you. So God gave us his only Son on Christmas day so that He could save us all from our sins. So the kings weren’t the only one giving gifts that day, you see.”
She looked thoughtful for a minute and said, “Yeah, but I still don’t know what that has to do with Santa.”
So I explained very patiently, “the spirit behind Christmas is the spirit of giving, and if you believe in that spirit of giving then you have to believe in Santa Claus. Because although he may not be a real person it is what he represents that is important. Santa Claus is in truth representative of the spirit of giving. God gave us a very special gift on Christmas day, and so we exchange gifts with each other to remind ourselves of the true spirit of Christmas.”
She smiled a big bright smile and said, “Then Santa has to real, even for us Christians.”
I laughed and said, “That’s right, what a smart little girl.”
She hugged me tightly and said, “I love you, Mom. Now I am going to go and tell Elizabeth that you can be a Christian and still believe in Santa Claus.” Then she turned and ran quickly out the back door.
I looked up to heaven and mouthed a quick, “Thank you, Lord.” You see I wasn’t ready for her to give up on Santa either as I knew when she did it would take her one step closer to adulthood, and I was definitely not ready for that. Besides her little brother Jeremy still believed as well.