Why you should go easy on the Santa thing

mean-santaSome kids think Santa is a totally unfair jerk.

Over the years Robin and I have worked with hundreds of kids as their teachers and coaches and some of them really dislike Santa. Why?

Because Santa doesn’t like them.

Relax. We love Santa in our house. I’m even one of his official helpers. I have a suit, the hair, boots and a big bag. So, no. This isn’t a Santa rant.

But, consider this for just a minute as though you are in second grade. Why would Santa bring the kid next to you a $500 Xbox One and only bring you a hat and a pair of mittens? Why did he bring Shelly a giant Barbie Dream House and you a used remote control car that doesn’t work?

Clearly, Santa doesn’t like you as much as he does the other kids at school. What other reason could there be for the disparity in the level of his gift giving?  From a poor kid’s point of view, the whole Santa thing can get pretty complicated.

Santa can be pretty tough on low income kids at Christmas while showering the kids who already have way more than they need.

Have you ever given Santa’s gift-giving pattern a second thought? Kids do. Low-income kids do.

In our house, as our children were growing up, we asked Santa to limit things and just bring one or two small things. His gifts were always unwrapped and under the tree. Sometimes he brought an inflatable sled or new toy snow shovels. Our kids were always excited to see what Santa brought but Santa’s gifts were never their focus. He stuffed their stockings with things like toothpaste, favorite candies and trinkets but nothing major.

When they got to the age of questioning, Santa transitioned into part of the fun of Christmas and even recruited them to join in with the fun of surprise gift giving.

We never had a Santa crisis in our family because Santa, though fun, was never the center of Christmas. When they got larger gifts, our children expressed thanks to us or their grandparents. Their understanding of Santa meant they never even asked him for the huge gifts.

One of our children’s fondest memories came during a time when we were working with a struggling teen ministry and totally dependent on donations. Our cupboards were empty and our mortgage was unpaid. A minivan pulled up in front of the house with every square inch packed with brightly wrapped gifts from the people of the little Pleasant Hill Baptist Church nearby. Robin and I were humbled and so very grateful watching our children open both practical and fun gifts that were not from Santa, but from Jesus followers. We hadn’t signed up on any list for services or gifts and hadn’t broadcast our needs. Somehow we had our own Christmas miracle, complete with boxes of food to restock our pantry.

Please, do me a favor and think about it if Santa goes overboard at your house. I encourage you to take the time to get in touch with him and ask him to limit it. I’m not saying do less or even give less. I’m just asking that you let Santa off the hook so that when the child from a struggling family who sits next to your child at school asks what Santa brought, it isn’t big deal.

What about your child? Will he think Santa loves him less because he brings less? Ours didn’t. I think that’s because we were fortunate enough to always have much more than was ever needed under our tree. Santa just wasn’t a huge deal because they were so excited by what Nana and Grampa gave them or what Robin and I had wrapped for them. If Santa got snowed out or stuck somewhere, Christmas in our house wouldn’t be ruined like all the Christmas TV specials claimed.

We love Santa in our house. We love listening for the reindeer, watching the weatherman track him on the radar, and leaving cookies and milk for his snack. We love dumping out the bobbles he leaves in our stockings and seeing what he left under the tree. But, in our house, the focus quickly changes to thanking one another, grateful hugs for thoughtful gifts and sharing Christmas joy together.

Please, just think about it? How about helping Santa shift from the center of Christmas day to just a fun part of your celebration?

By Scott Linscott

About Scott Linscott

Living life to the fullest, walking in the dust of my Rabbi, creating art through photography and written word, speaking words of hope wherever and whenever the opportunity arises.
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