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Yes, I’m a Christian. Yes, we do Santa

November 24, 2009

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Raising kids is controversial. Homeschool or public school? Immunizations or not? Whether you’re talking about television, what you let your kids read, or whether they’re allowed to be online, text, or wear skinny jeans…there’s always a critic. I am tired of feeling insecure because of well-meaning moms saying horrible things about what I do or do not let my kids do.

I know I am tempting all kinds of good Christian women to send me hate mail by writing this post, but I am feeling rather opinionated lately. I’ve been responding to some questions on blogs and Facebook, and I realized I wanted to say it all at once, and I wanted to say it here.

So. Yes, I believe in Jesus and yes, I am a Christian. And yes. We do Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and Easter Bunny. Yes, I carve pumpkins with my kids and let them dress up as favorite characters and go to a harvest fair. Yes, I go to sleep each night with a clear conscience before my God.

There has been quite a little debate raging on Twitter lately about Santa. So far, I seem to be in the minority. In real life, I am considered normal, but online buddies are vehemently against the whole Santa thing. I don’t mind difference of opinions, that’s what makes life interesting. So the moms that bother me aren’t the ones who state their beliefs and reasons, but the ones who essentially tell moms who do differently that they are ruining their kids’ chances of growing up Godly.

Well. In the beginning, I said all the same things. I don’t want to lie to my baby. Christmas is about Jesus. And so on. Then my dad had my two year old for a day close to Christmas. She came home so indoctrinated and so excited about Santa that I threw up my hands and went along with it.

I was a young mom and went along with what my parents and in-laws said. I might have done it differently if I’d had kids in my thirties, when I started being more sure of myself. I’m glad I didn’t, though, because we’ve had great fun over the years with Santa. Our focus is always on Christ, and Santa is part of that celebration. It doesn’t take away from the true meaning of Christmas unless you let it.

I never had to convince my kids, or figure out reasons for parts of the story that don’t make sense. As soon as my oldest started asking questions, I told her the truth. And guess what? She is thirteen now and she is on fire for God, in love with her parents and tells her mommy every little thing. She trusts us. She believes in God.

This disproves the arguments I’ve heard, and I’ve heard it all. That our kids won’t trust us in the future or that they’ll end up thinking we’re lying about Jesus, too. Well that’s just silly. We might teach our kids about God, but He draws them to Himself. We show them the way, but they grow to know Him in their own hearts. Him—a real, loving God with whom they have a personal relationship. Not a random character that plops a Barbie on the fireplace once a year. How could anyone not see the difference?

My girl is proof that a kid can believe in Santa and still end up being a Christian.

My guess is, several of those angry moms are proof, too. They admit their parents did Santa for them. So while I understand their reasoning, I do not understand the need to condemn moms who choose differently. It’s the same thing at Halloween. Carving a pumpkin does not make me a pagan. And, just so you know, calling someone a pagan does not make you a better Christian.

Now that my youngest is six and will probably learn the truth too soon, I am nostalgically reminiscing of the days when both my little ones went to bed in anticipation of the unknown. Of slipping candy in stockings and hearing relatives ask all day long, “What did Santa bring you?”

It’s part of our culture, our country’s traditions and my family’s, too. So, please. Can’t we agree to disagree? I promise not to tell you you’re ruining your children, and you can leave me alone, too.

As long as I’m being controversial, here are a few more tidbits. I don’t let my kids read Harry Potter. They’re not allowed to wear anything with skulls, or watch most television. But we do love iCarly and SpongeBob is a household favorite. I let them wear pretty much whatever they want, (besides skulls) as long as not too much skin is showing. We love makeup and shopping and sometimes have cookies for breakfast.

I’ve spanked. I’ve skipped church for no good reason. We’ve slept ‘til noon and stayed up ‘til 2am. And here’s the big one: I homeschool my kids and I teach them that the only way to heaven is through Jesus.

You can disagree. That’s okay. Just don’t tell me I’m not a good Christian because my silly rules are different than yours.

What are some things you’re sick of being criticized for?

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24 Comments leave one →
  1. November 24, 2009 4:40 pm

    Last year, I had SO many issue with how I celebrated Christmas in the blog world it was unreal. I wrote my own post last year about how I felt right here (http://exemplifyonline.com/editor/2008/12/08/christmas-confessions/) and wholeheartedly agree with you.

    I appreciate you taking the time to stand up for your traditions and love you even more for it!

    By the way, when I have kids, we will be doing Santa. ; )

    <3, Kristen

  2. angelamills permalink*
    November 24, 2009 4:49 pm

    Thanks, Kristen! I read your post, it is beautiful!!
    I was a little scared when I clicked “publish,” but I already feel better :)

  3. November 24, 2009 4:50 pm

    Fantastic post. I really enjoyed reading this and I identify with so many things that you’ve written. Great job.

  4. November 24, 2009 5:02 pm

    I love this line: “And, just so you know, calling someone a pagan does not make you a better Christian.”

    This is a great post! At first, we were against everything Santa, then we decided to tell the kids the story of Santa, and play the “game” on Christmas morning. I’m planning a post on this very subject, and a MomTV show about it, too. I think you can bring the focus on Jesus while still doing Santa. We just tell our kids that Santa loved Jesus so much that he wanted to bless the children of his town.

    I really hate that we (Christians) make these blanket statements and judge each other for trivial issues! I applaud you for standing up.

  5. November 24, 2009 5:02 pm

    We do Santa and we’re Christian, I even work for a church. I agree with you. I dont see it as a big deal. We teach our kids the truth. We are Christ followers. I dont think having the fun of Santa changes any of that or takes away from the true meaning of Christmas because we don’t let it.

  6. November 24, 2009 5:07 pm

    Good for you!

    My story is a bit different in the Santa area (because we started it and then I grew to hate it then I learned to not overreact to it) but we have a lot in common.
    Yesterday I wanted to write something SO BAD in reaction to a conversation I had with my uncle about our Switched on Schoolhouse and about his opinion that if I correct my 4th grader’s lesson to give her credit for questions that she got right but the computer counted wrong because she didn’t add a plural ‘s’ or the article ‘the’ at the beginning, then I am setting her up for failure in the real world because in the real world, right is right and wrong is wrong and in college she’ll fail those questions.
    What?? Since when.? In college, humans are grading papers. Unless they are “fill in the bubble with the pencil” tests in which case plural s’s don’t matter. And in “the real world” there are shades of gray all over the place. And besides–what happened to being NINE and not worrying about college and just focusing on whether or not she is actually learning the material and does or does not know who Magellan is? UGH. I couldn’t get it out of my head for two days. Why do we let comments like this rile us up so much?
    I guess maybe because as you said, raising kids is controversial and maybe I’m feeling a bit insecure myself. Maybe it’s time I just stood up and said, “Hey – this is how I am raising my kids. End of story.”
    I still may write that post after all….

  7. November 24, 2009 5:09 pm

    A HEARTY AMEN!!! And THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!! I feel the same way … and I am so thankful someone far more articulate than me has finally said what I feel. Especially loved the oh-so-needed reminder that it is GOD WHO DRAWS US TO HIMSELF. Bless you and bless your sweet girls who are growing up with a mom who stands up for what matters and has taught them to enjoy life!

  8. November 24, 2009 5:37 pm

    I have a 2 1/2 year old and a baby and my husband and I were just discussing this very subject while walking the dog the other night. He grew up believing in Santa and remembers the “magic” and excitement of waking up on Christmas morning to see what Santa had left for him in his stocking. I don’t remember ever actually believing in Santa. We played the “game” and left milk and cookies for “santa” to eat when he came… but I’m pretty sure it was always a joke whether Mom or Dad would be Santa Clause that year. As for our girls… we’re undecided about what to do. I have a feeling we’ll do something very similar to what you’ve done/are doing :-)
    All that to say that I really enjoyed reading your post!

  9. November 24, 2009 6:32 pm

    Well, I would likely be called a ‘carnal’ christian by some although frankly I don’t believe there is such a thing. We celebrate Santa, dress up for Halloween, listen to all kinds of great music, read Harry Potter and Twilight and trust in Christ and Him alone for our salvation. Themes of mercy and redemption and generosity can be found in so many different venues and we celebrate them where we find them.
    Thank you for the post and so nice to ‘meet’ you my friend.
    Hugs and love and a very merry Thanksgiving!
    edie

  10. mamala permalink
    November 24, 2009 7:43 pm

    Yup.
    Your neck must hurt, what with all the tipping back of your head as you speak to the high-horsed set. Typical humans, seems they aren’t happy if grace abounds–really much happier when there is a set of rules that they can hold you to.
    Oh, but what fun it is to have the freedom, the deep-breathed exhilaration of never knowing what fun He will plunk in front of us next.
    Jesus is no Scrooge.
    Of this I am quite certain.

  11. Turtlemomma permalink
    November 24, 2009 8:19 pm

    Love the post girlfriend. Love the stregnth in it and the fact you didnt hide, but let it all hang out. Kudos to you.
    At least you teach your children about Jesus and modesty. At least you teach them that they can come to you any time they need to talk. At least you teach them something positive in their life.
    We love Jesus but pretend about Santa and Toothfairy and we dress up for Halloween. We do believe in not lying to our children, but not keeping them out of the fun.
    As for things that I am sick of being criticized for…I guess Im just sick of being criticized at all. Wouldnt it be nice if people put you up and said positive words to you way more than someone says something negative or critical?? Wouldnt it be nice if we were more positive ourselves??

  12. November 25, 2009 7:16 am

    “It doesn’t take away from the true meaning of Christmas unless you let it.”

    Yes, yes, yes. Thank you for this! I wholeheartedly agree.

  13. November 28, 2009 9:05 am

    I just wanted you to know that I agree with you 100%.

    I don’t tell my kids that Santa is watching to see if they are being good, and I cringe slightly when my MIL tells them they Santa sees their every move, but I would not take away their Christmas Santa excitment. My oldest is 9 and this will probably be her last year to “believe in Santa”. When I stopped believing in Santa, my parents let me help be “Santa” for my younger sisters, it was so much fun! My children are passionate about God and I don’t think Santa will hinder them in any way.

    Glad to have found your blog through twitter.

  14. November 29, 2009 10:51 am

    i’m a christian and we do santa too! our kiddos love the santa stuff. one year santa left us reindeer poop on our roof (bits of tootsie roll and a folded empty wrapping paper tube used to make deer prints). one year santa left a note telling the kids thanks for the cookies, the next year we forgot the cookies and his elves made a mess in our kitchen looking for them. we have a lot of fun with it….BUT if you ask my kids why we celebrate Christmas they always say Jesus!
    i’m on staff at our church as the children’s director – we need to stop making our kids mini-adults and let them have some wonderment in their lives…..i think it helps with the wonder of God, something we boring adults forget about!

    loved this post….just stumbled here:)

  15. November 29, 2009 2:57 pm

    I love your post. We don’t do santa or holloween, but I also feel that God’s Word teaches us to have grace for one another. Instead of nit-picking and finding fault with one another, we need to be loving towards eachother as the body of Christ.

    Blessings!!

    btw, i love your blog… I just found it a few weeks ago, and as a new homeschooling family (two girls 10 and 7) I find it refreshing and encouraging! Thank you. :)

  16. cocoaroundtheworld permalink
    November 29, 2009 6:30 pm

    I love this post, it reminds me of when I was little imagining ringing bells on the roof. Leaving out milk and cookies and being so fascinated when there were only crumbs left on the plate and my little stocking was filled.
    I am a teenager now who is in love with Jesus Christ! Nothing could change that. Yes I carve pupmkins and help my little sister write a note to Santa, but the true joy of Christmas is knowing that the Lord of the Earth was born in a manger and came for all of us!

  17. November 29, 2009 7:32 pm

    Amen, Amen, and Amen. Well said.

  18. November 30, 2009 2:33 pm

    I’ll be the first commenter to put my hand up on this post and say that we don’t do Santa.

    I find it disappointing that you have been receiving such criticism for your decisions though. I’m pretty new to blogging, so don’t know what the blogging world is like, but in real life, our decision not to do Santa is rare. We haven’t attracted any criticism so far (though our kids are only 18 months and 4 months old), but we have had quite a few raised eyebrows.

    I have found that some Christian friends take our decision not to have Santa as a personal insult against them, though it is not like that at all. Many of our best friends “do” Santa, and we have no problem with that. I guess we just need to think a little more about how to help our children “fit in” when everyone around them has Santa. I don’t want to be in trouble for our kids blabbing about Santa to other kids, but at the same time, I want to stick with our decision. Lots to think about as our kids get older…

    I’m glad you have been able to have such fun and build your family memories and traditions with Santa though… :-).

  19. Becky D permalink
    November 30, 2009 10:54 pm

    Oh – lovely! I have a controversial question and maybe I’m just stirring up a hornet’s nest…… But where are your accusers now? Maybe without a leg to stand on… or a stone to throw? Well said, my friend.

    And no, this isn’t a challenge or an invitation to bring on criticism or to divide any further. PLEASE don’t bring that to the table. This is simply a modern-day example of what grace and redemption is all about – it levels the field and reminds us that we all start out on the same filthy dungeon floor. If we spend too much time condemning each other in the dank darkness, we’ll totally miss out on the LIGHT show above.

    Love you, Ang.
    Becky

  20. coffeemom permalink
    December 2, 2009 2:53 pm

    I knew there was a reason I liked you! ;)

    Thank you for this post. And for the record, I am currently drinking my Christmas Blend coffee out of a huge mug with Santa on it. Oh, and I give presents. Because I like to. And lots of ‘em!

  21. Robin permalink
    December 2, 2009 3:47 pm

    Angela, I don’t think I know more loved and trusting girls than yours! Santa has far from ruined their lives! I’m amazed to hear the criticism you’ve received and find it ironic because years ago I caught all kinds of flack for NOT doing Santa from mostly my christian friends. My kids have always had stockings and everyone in my extended family sneaks stuff into the stockings throughout Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. Nobody thinks Santa is any one person, but everyone has the joy of giving to each other. When my kids were very young (2-4 years old) we told them that Santa was fun and a game. We explained that some kids know Santa is a game and some do not. They were never to tell! It would rob all the fun out of it for their friends. They are 13 & 15 now and I still don’t know of anyone they ruined it for. They are happy to play along with anyone’s version of the game. Santa can be whatever you choose it to be and still work for all! It’s the criticism that sucks the joy out of celebrating the way we want to. Go on have Santa!

  22. angelamills permalink*
    December 2, 2009 3:52 pm

    Thanks Robin…you are the only real life friend I know of who doesn’t do Santa. It’s funny, people will always find something to pick on you for! You for NOT doing Santa, and me FOR doing it. Silly people :)

  23. angelamills permalink*
    December 2, 2009 3:56 pm

    Julie, you’re not the first! Joy (turtle momma) and Jana don’t either!

    Love that there’s so many different kinds of readers here, but you have something in common…you are all so SWEET!

  24. December 4, 2009 4:53 pm

    I believe we were separated at “almost” birth (since I am older)LOL. I feel the exact same way. We did and do do Santa-our 21 yold and 19 yold are not screwed up Christians because we did-our 15 yold and now our 8 year old (who figured it out last year) are far from horrible examples of Santa talk gone bad-in fact, we have always made it clear why we celebrate Christmas, and we’ve never let the Santa and reindeer and whatnot overpower the season-and we did all the other characters too. I think it is easier for people to slam others who choose to do something a bit differently, than to be kind and let it be between them and God. I have yet to be convicted about celebrating Christmas with Santa, Easter with the Bunny, Halloween (altho this one I am not fond of-we do it, but bare minimums) and so on. Some are convicted because the Lord knows better and perhaps they can get too sidetracked by celebrating that way-but again not everyone has to forgo it to “look like perfect Christians” which we both know doesn’t exist-
    I dunno why they feel it worth getting their panties in a bunch! I choose to ignore those discussions and focus on more important things. I am glad you did this post-seems like too many are afraid to truly post what they feel.
    Amen Sistah!

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