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Santa Claus Is Just a Story

I was driving through the city with the girls a few weeks ago when Sunshine suddenly said, “Santa Claus is going to bring me TOYS!”  The Jeep had been quiet until then—no music, no talking—so the comment came completely out of the blue.  I blinked and thought,  Where did she learn that?  A babysitter?  Preschool?

I let the comment go right then, not sure how to address it.  Santa Claus is everywhere now.  She sees him in pictures at the mall, in inflatable ornaments in front yards, in paintings on store windows, on the paper I used to wrap our Christmas presents.  The songs on her Christmas CD talk about Santa Claus and Rudolph (and last night, while we drove to visit her aunt and uncle, she was singing “I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus,” much to my husband’s amusement).

Santa Claus is just a story

I don’t remember ever believing in Santa Claus, so I have no funny stories to share about learning  he wasn’t real.  My family never pretended any of the presents came from him.  I knew Mom and Dad stacked gifts under the Christmas tree and filled our stockings (on the years we had stockings—most years they were forgotten).  Of course, I knew about Santa Claus and saw him at the Christmas party my dad’s company threw for its families every year.  He was just another Christmas tradition, like the clown band at the Christmas party or Frosty the Snowman or Dr. Suess’ Grinch.

This year, Sunshine is old enough to pay attention to those stories and songs and I find myself asking what we want to teach her about Santa Claus.  Even the cashiers at the grocery store ask her, “What’s Santa bringing you this year?” or “Are you excited to see Santa?”  I smile and let her answer the questions while I think about Saint Nicholas and family traditions and consumerism and things my three-year-old doesn’t really care about.

We were all driving home a few days ago when Sunshine again began talking about Santa Claus.  My husband asked her, “Is Santa real like Daddy or a story like Elmo?

After a pause, Sunshine answered, “A story!”

We both smiled and said, “That’s right.  There’s lots of fun Christmas stories.”

My husband told her about Saint Nicholas—a man who loved Jesus so much he gave generously to others and started the legend that has become today’s Santa Claus.  It’s a nice story, but the Christmas story I like the best is the one about a stable in Bethlehem.

Sunshine has several beautiful, poetic books about shepherds, angels, wise men and Christmas stars.  There are songs about baby Jesus on her Christmas CD and when we walked up to church yesterday morning, she easily recognized the big picture of Mary, Joseph and Jesus on the front of the church. While these stories can become so familiar we forget their significance, these stories are true stories, stories with an eternal impact.

What traditions does your family have about Santa Claus?  What are your favourite Christmas stories?

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