Question: As a child, Christmas was always my favorite time of the year. I really enjoyed hearing stories about the birth of the Savior. I also have special family memories associated with the anticipation of Santa’s arrival on Christmas Eve.
I would very much like to offer these same happy experiences to my young children, but it seems many of my Christian friends think it’s wrong or harmful to include any mythical characters as part of the Christmas celebration. How do you feel about this?
Answer: My sentiments mirror yours exactly. Christmas memories are among the most cherished of all my childhood reminiscences. The fantasy of Santa Claus coming on Christmas Eve was an important part of the fun. I’m reluctant to deprive today’s kids of an experience that was so exciting for me.
On the other hand, I understand the concerns expressed by many Christian parents about the pagan celebration of Christmas. They don’t want to link Santa Claus, a mythical figure, with the reality of the baby Jesus who was born in Bethlehem of Judea. They have good reason to fear that they might weaken the validity of the Christmas story by mixing it with fantasy.
So this is the dilemma–Santa is fun, but Santa could be confusing. What are Christian parents to do? This is a judgment call to be made by a given family. Shirley and I chose to play the “Santa game” with our kids, and we had no difficulties teaching them who Jesus was and is. Other families regret mixing the two images.
What is best? I don’t know. But if I had to do it over, I would still let my children thrill to the excitement of Santa’s arrival down the chimney on Christmas Eve.
James Dobson is the Founder and President of Family Talk, a nonprofit organization that produces his radio program, “Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk.” This editorial first appeared in Dobson’s blog.
Read more at Can Santa and Jesus co-exist?