I’ve never believed in Santa. Not even for a moment. Growing up we knew the stories, watched The Santa Clause in the theater with my Grandpa, read The Night Before Christmas, but I never believed there was a Santa. It was just a story.
The Christmas I was 7, we were at my grandparents house with aunts and uncles and cousins. My cousins are younger than my siblings and I and on Christmas Eve we set out cookies, milk and carrots for the reindeer (for the first time in my life). We read The Night Before Christmas and went to bed. The next morning, before the chaos of 15 people opening presents all at once, there was the pause to see if Santa had eaten the cookies. He had, and written a note back to the cousins which was suspiciously in my mom’s handwriting. I loudly proclaimed this only to be shushed by my mom; your cousins still believe in Santa Claus she whispered in my ear. Still believe in Santa? You mean people actually believe in Santa? Like, that he’s real? Why?
Then there was the year I got a letter from Santa. I didn’t mean to get a letter from Santa. I meant to give my sister my Christmas list in a funny, creative way. So I wrote it out as a letter to Santa, addressed the envelope to “The First Door On The Left Up The Stairs”, put it in the mailbox and told mom to have my sister get the mail. My one mistake was not realizing the mail hadn’t come yet. The mailman took my letter. What did they think of the address? Well, at one point the United States Postal Services didn’t throw out all those letters to Santa. (All the ones collected since taking them to the courthouse in New York at least.) In Dover, NH the letters to Santa were read and replied to, at least mine was. About a week later I received a letter from Santa, telling me Mrs. Claus was doing fine and that he was getting the reindeer ready for the big night. Also that he would try to get the things on my list and to be good.
I’ve been thinking about this letter recently, seeing as it is Christmas time. This year my husband and I had to decide: are we doing Santa? Cora is two and is getting so excited about Christmas. I told someone we probably weren't going to do Santa. Her response? How will she have faith in anything? I was shocked. I pray daily that she will put her faith in Jesus Christ. If I tell her Santa is real and the tooth fairy is real and Jesus is real, then someday she realizes Santa isn’t real and the tooth fairy isn’t real - how will that affect her faith in Jesus?
Needless to say, we have decided to not do Santa. I point him out in books, she will learn the stories. Someday we will watch Miracle on 34th Street. But I don’t need her to believe Santa is the one bringing her the presents. I want her to know the gifts are from her aunts and uncles, her grandparents, her great grandparents, her cousins, people who love her. I read somewhere that telling children to be good so that Santa will bring you presents makes the presents conditional, they have to earn them, they have to deserve them. But that is contrary to the very essence of gift giving. We don’t deserve gifts. We don’t earn them. They wouldn’t be gifts then. They would be reimbursement.
I give to my daughter because I love her. I love her because she is my daughter. Her actions don’t change that. Giving gifts at Christmas is a symbol of the ultimate Gift Giver. He gave us His Son not because we deserved it or earned it but because He loves us. He loves us because we are His children. We can never deserve what God has given to us.