Aside from the actual St. Nick that once lived (who obviously is long gone and had no flying reindeer), the modern day image of Santa is fairly ostentatious. Children are told to believe in a man who lives in the North Pole, makes toys with his elves year round, knows the names of every child on earth and their “goodness”, has 12 flying reindeer, and delivers presents to children across the globe in a single night. What’s even more amazing is that children believe the entire story without question, mostly because they trust their parents and many of the peers who believe in kind.
In contrast, if this is a Christian family, the figure of Jesus is also introduced around the same time, if not later in many cases. Though for some reason, parents find it difficult to solidify the truth of Jesus in their child and may even put forth LESS effort to prove him over Santa. Either way, these two figures who are both unseen, unheard, and hard to grasp as a child, are introduced at an early age. The problem is, one of these figures exists, and the other does not.
Then comes the day when your child discovers through someone else, or by your own hand, that Santa is not real. The stories he believed throughout his childhood of a jolly man delivering presents were a lie. He does not exist, and he never did. While a child may get over this eventually, what does that say for the man named Jesus? As parents we expect the child to believe Jesus is still real, the God he cannot see, feel, or hear, because those stories were actually true. Unlike the stories of Santa.
How is a child supposed to distinguish one lie from another? If parents told their child that Santa and Jesus were both real for as long as he can remember, how does he grapple with the truth that one still exists and the other does not? Confusion, distrust and doubt would come in and until the child gains a solid foundation of truth, historical evidence and apologetics, he or she may continue to doubt for years to come.
And what about the other stories the child was told? Those of David and Goliath, Moses parting the Red Sea, Noah and the flood, a lame man walking, a blind man seeing, a body raised from the dead? The Resurrection of Jesus? What does this say to the validity of the Bible or to us as parents?
Aside from the challenge of gaining trust and instilling the truth of Christ once again, it seems Santa is getting undue credit when a child believes in him. Many times the most desired and valued gift for a child is marked, “From: Santa.” While the parents may be given credit for the small things, Santa is said to be the real provider for the children. The Bible says,
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” - James 1:17
As Christians we know that the Father is the ultimate provider and source of blessing, so why are we placing Santa in this role instead of God? Should the child’s affections be directed towards Santa or Jesus? Is Santa the one who provides for the family and blesses? What happens when it’s discovered that Santa is not real? Where will provision come from then? For those who believe in Christ, it seems a more accurate gift label would read: