My son is currently seven years old, and he believes in Santa Claus, and I’m fine with that. Some people don’t want their kids to believe in Santa Claus, and I think that’s okay, too. I think it’s a matter of personal preference. But here are some of the reasons why I think it’s okay for my son to believe in Santa Claus.
1. Santa Claus is based on a real, historical person
The idea of Santa Claus is based on the historical person of Saint Nicholas, a Greek Bishop of Myra (Demre, part of modern-day Turkey), who lived from 270-343 AD, and had a reputation for secret gift-giving. And I love the fact that today, almost 1,700 years after Nicholas’ death, we have the idea of Santa Claus because one man made a difference in his community.
There is a quote that I sometimes think of:
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that has. — Margaret Mead
I try to teach my son that he can make a difference in the world, that he can make a difference in his class, and among his friends, by being a positive example and role model for others to follow. And I try to model that for him as well, by doing my best to be a positive example and have a positive impact on my family, my church, and my community. So why shouldn’t we celebrate the idea of a man who gave gifts to those who were most needy?
2. I don’t believe that Santa Claus’ emphasis on “being good” has anything to do with salvation
There are many religious people who don’t like the idea of Santa Claus because they think that Santa teaches kids that “good works” and “good behavior” are most important, and that somehow the kids will conflate this idea with religious beliefs. I have no such concern. My son clearly understands that Jesus Christ is the only hope of his salvation.
For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. — John 3:16-17 (HCSB)
For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast. — Ephesians 2:8-9 (HCSB)
However, the truth is that there are many things in this world that are based on good behavior/works/performance. The allowance that my wife and I provide him is based on his performance. The grades that he earns at school are based on his performance. As he gets older, his opportunities to earn a spot on a sports team and then to play during games will be based on performance. As he starts to work, his income and bonuses and promotions will be based on his performance. Reward for performance is a fact of life. It has nothing to do with his eternal salvation, but everything to do with life here on earth.
3. I like the fact that Santa Claus exists for all children
There is a universality to Santa Claus — he exists for all children. And I can use that to help remind my son that Christmas is not solely about him. Yes, he will receive gifts as part of Christmas, but Santa wants to be sure that all children receive gifts on Christmas, so we need to do our part to help Santa toward his goal, whether that’s through donating money, through donating new toys or gently used toys, or through volunteering time for a local charity, we can play a part in making sure that no child is forgotten.
4. I think it can be healthy to believe in something that we can’t see or explain
There are lots of things that I believe in that I can’t see, nor can I explain them to everyone’s satisfaction.
I believe in God. I believe He exists; that He created everything; that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price for the sins of all mankind by dying on the cross; that Jesus conquered death and the grave by rising from the dead on the third day; and that one day, I will spend eternity in heaven with Him.
I believe in gravity. I believe in the wind. I believe in China (hey, I’ve never seen it, although a lot of the things I buy are evidently made there).
I don’t have to see something to be able to believe in it. I don’t have to be able to explain how all of it works. I don’t have to rely on the fact that others believe in it. I can believe in it all on my own, and that’s okay. And that’s a message I want my son to have, too.
5. I believe in Santa Claus
That’s right — I’ll be forty years old on my next birthday, and I believe in Santa Claus.