Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Santa Claus Drama

As many of you know, Tom has been down in the capital city working as Santa at many different shopping centers, private parties, and events. One lady has even hired him to surprise her child on Christmas morning. This is helping to raise funds for the orphanage.

When Tom was planning the trip I decided to help him get some publicity, so I posted an ad on a Facebook page that caters to missionaries in Zambia. I thought perhaps some of them would like Tom to come help out at parties they might be holding for their charities.

When Tom found out what I’d done, he said with a chuckle, “Get ready for hate mail”. Even though I know not everyone is a fan of Santa, I was sure he was wrong, but he wasn’t. It only took about an hour before a letter landed in my inbox.

A long-time missionary here in Zambia was shocked and outraged that we would even consider having Santa be a part of our Christmas.

She had some valid questions and concerns, and I know many people have the same questions about how a Christian household can be OK with including Santa in the Christmas holiday.

I thought I'd address some of the issues as I see them. I don't claim to be an expert nor do I feel that these decisions are right for every household. However, they are right for this one.

Doesn't Santa detract from the real meaning of Christmas? 
Won't finding out one day that Santa isn't real cause the kids to doubt Jesus?

This whole month we are keeping Jesus up front and center. We have the Jesse Tree and the manger scene. We talk about what He brought to the world every day. He is the reason for the season. 

Santa is just a fun guy that helps deliver presents one day a year. 

Though some worry that when children learn Santa isn’t real they will discount the Truth of Jesus, I just don’t see that happening. 

By the time the kids are old enough to start realizing the truth about Santa, they will have experienced for themselves the Truth of Jesus and He will continue to be Real to them.

There is something special about children getting to enjoy their childhood and to let them believe in magic. It all ends so quickly. They all grow up eventually. All too soon real life will be here for them. They will have to deal with reality and there is no going back from that. Why not let them enjoy make believe for a while?

I really like the way this lady explained the 'mystery of Santa' to her daughter. I'd prefer it with a bit more of a spiritual approach, but it was very good.
How will you explain to the children that Santa never visited them before they came to the orphanage? How will you explain that he doesn't take presents to the other children in the village?

Again, a good question. 

But, I’ll take it a step further. 

How am I going to explain to them why God allowed them to come live with a loving family with a mom and dad, and aunties, and friends around the world, when so many children around us have no one? How will I explain why they get to eat 5 times a day when so many children around the world struggle to get one meal? How will I explain how they have a bed all to themselves with sheets and blankets while the children in the village share a bamboo mat on a dirt floor with several siblings? 

How am I going to explain that for some reason their original moms and/or dads were taken from them?

Those are seriously tough questions. One day I am going to have to walk with them on a journey of discovering Who God Is, and while not all their questions will be answered, they will be covered and coated in a gifting of grace and faith. 

In light of all this, I feel the whole ‘you mean Santa isn’t real’ thing is going to be minor.

We plan on taking the older children to visit the hospital when Tom gets back from Lusaka so they can share some joy with others. It's important that that kids learn to share their blessings with others. Seeing that not everyone is as blessed or fortunate, will help them to grow up more grateful and compassionate.

As I explained to my kids as they were growing up, Santa Claus is based on real historical characters that cared for others and showed love for those less fortunate. As long as we are showing love, and learning generosity we are honoring the One who inspired Santa to begin with. 

And, for me, that is the most important thing!

What say you? On which side of the Great Santa Debate do you fall on? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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