When Mark and I first realized that we were going to be parents, at some point we had a discussion about whether or not we would "have Santa" in our house. We decided no.
I'm realizing now, after going through a Christmas season with a 4-year-old, that this is easier said than done. Santa is everywhere on TV and in the stores, we can visit him in the mall, and all Chloe's friends have parents who promote Santa. Grandpa Barry also dressed up as Santa yesterday afternoon while we were over at Rose & Barry's for presents and dinner. Chloe thought it was SO awesome that she got to see Santa and that he gave her a present. (Kara not so much. She kept saying "No like it!" while Santa was there, and she cried a bit.)
After thinking about it a bit in bed last night, I have realized that there is nothing really wrong with Santa - its what we say about Santa that is important. What I find wrong with Santa is the "naughtY or nice" aspects, implying that you need to be good to get presents. This is why I think it is wrong:
1) You can't expect children to be good all the time. You can't expect adults to be good all the time either. We are all born as fallible humans, sinners. This is why God sent his son Jesus to save us, the reason we have Christmas in the first place.
2) Presents don't need to be "earned." Mark and I give presents because we like to, and because baby Jesus received gifts from the wise men. We will give our girls gifts whether they were "good" or not.
3) We are ultimately responsible to and judged by God, not Santa. If we are striving to be good, we should do so in an attempt to be closer to our Father and Maker, not to get presents from some fictional character based on a God-serving man from a few hundred years ago.
So next year, I think we'll make it simple, just like this year: a single visit to say hi to Santa (no photos), no presents from Santa on Christmas morning, a discussion about St. Nickolas on Dec. 6 (and likely later too), and maybe a visit from Santa at Rose & Barry's. No "Santa is pretend" from us, but no promotion of Santa either. I don't want to deny my girls the fun of pretend, but we want to keep Christmas focused on Christ.