Mr. Native Texan and I have had our fair share of (ahem) disagreements over the years. One of the first, and most polarizing, was over whether or not we would include Santa Claus in our Christmas celebrations. (We didn’t even have children yet. In fact, I think the disagreement began before we even got married!)
I’ll let you speculate as to which of us was on which side of that argument, but in the end we’ve adopted a middle-of-the-road stance on the matter. We do not focus on or teach our children about Santa, nor do we ignore him completely.
Santa is sort of hard to avoid this time of year, and our kids do know who he is.
[Although....Little Brother gets him confused with Noah. While out and about one recent Saturday, Mr. Native Texan pointed to a picture of Santa and asked Little Brother Who is that? Little Brother immediately answered Noah! Mr. Native Texan informed him it was, in fact, Santa Claus, to which Little Brother responed No, dat Noah! with a smile that said "silly Daddy!"]
At the same time, we try to keep the focus on the true meaning of Christmas: We celebrate Christmas in honor of Christ’s birth, and we give gifts because God gave us the best gift of all in sending His Son, Who gave us the gift of salvation on the cross.
As our kids get older, we plan to learn more about the real Saint Nicholas. As it turns out, there are only a few meager facts known about this famous man, among a host of legendary stories. The history associated with St. Nick is quite fascinating, spanning hundreds of years and several continents.
Rather than reinventing the wheel, or pretending to be an expert on the subject, I’ll mention a few additional resources for those interested in learning more about the history behind Saint Nicholas, or for Christians attempting to determine the appropriate response to the contemporary tradition of Santa Claus.
I’m sure there are many resources available on this topic, but these are several I’ve read and would recommend (Please let me know if you know of additional reliable sources):
- Who Was St. Nicholas?: Kevin DeYoung of the Gospel Coalition shares a brief overview along with his thoughts.
- The Real Saint Nicholas by Ted Olsen of Christianity Today
- It’s Time for Christmas by Elizabeth Hough Sechirst and Janette Woolsey presents a nice historic overview in the section entitled St. Nicholas.