One of my favorite Christmas movies is Fred Claus, with Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, and Kevin Spade. Needless to say, the Laxton’s have watched this movie many times over the last couple of years.
There is a point at the conclusion of this movie that I want to highlight. Santa’s brother, Fred (played by Vaughn), expresses that there are no naughty kids and urges his brother to begin the practice of giving every child a gift at Christmas. I have to admit that it is a very emotionally moving statement and concept. Who wouldn’t want every child throughout the world to get a present for Christmas.
What Santa’s brother is lobbying for is the dismissal that kids aren’t bad, aren’t naughty. Sure, they may do naughty things from time to time, but that doesn’t mean they deserve a lump of coal. And it is this kind of messaging that has infested our culture.
Both the traditional view of Santa, delivering presents to “good” little girls and boys—which is a works-based reward system; and this more modern view of Santa, delivering presents to “all” little girls and boys because no one is bad—which is an entitlement reward system—are both contradictory to what Scripture teaches.
The Scripture teaches there is no one good, not even one (Ps 14:3; Rom 3:12). Scripture also teaches that man is born inherently sinful (Rom 5:12,18,19). Based upon Scripture everyone is not good—our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isa 64:6). Thus, humanity deserves God’s punishment and wrath.
Such contradictions make it difficult for Christian parents to celebrate the contemporary beliefs about Santa. Many Christian parents struggle to find the balance between Santa, Elf-on-the-shelf, and Christ.
In the Laxton house, Santa is part of our Christmas rhythm. In fact, this year we added “Rex,” who is our Elf-on-the-shelf guest for the Christmas season. I know some Christians won’t approve and will see the practice of Santa and Rex as shallow and unchristian. Nevertheless, I believe that Christian families can walk and chew gum at the same time —they can keep Christ as the center of the season while at the same time including Santa in their holiday cheer.
Let me share three ways to keep Jesus as the center (as well as the Bible’s teachings) while including Santa in your Christmas festivities.
1. Teach your children that Jesus is the hero of Christmas, and Santa is the helper.
I think what happens many times is parents go overboard with Santa. Santa becomes the central focus of the Christmas season because of what he does — brings presents that the kids want. Over time this script is flipped where Santa takes centered stage and Jesus becomes a supporting actor.
Parents must groom their children to understand that Jesus is the hero of life, and Christmas is the time we celebrate his coming to earth to rescue sinners. And this rescue mission brings the greatest gift any human being could ever receive—forgiveness of sin and thus reconciliation with God. Therefore, there would be no Christmas if there was no Christ.
Here’s the reality, grooming our children to understand this is not only a December discipline, this is a discipline that should be practiced year-round.
In cultivating this awareness and understanding in our children year-round, we also teach them how Santa is ultimately Jesus’ helper. Teach them the origin of Santa, a.k.a. Saint Nick.