A few days ago a young college friend of mine (who is full of great questions and posessing a very teachable heart) sent me the following question on Facebook: “What do you and Andrew do about Santa and the Tooth Fairy?” It was a fun question to answer, and I thought I’d share my slightly edited answer here.
Hi, Gurtrude! (Ok, so that’s totally not her name, but as long as I’m making up a name for her I thought I’d make it an interesting one.) That’s a fun question. The Tooth Fairy we definitely do, but the kids know right away that it’s us and we are just pretending something fun. With a big house full of kids, it’s important to find every possible time to celebrate the children as individuals, and losing a tooth is a great time to make one kid feel special. But, as I said, they know it’s their mom, and that’s just part of the fun. I will add that we only give them a dollar, so they aren’t exactly getting rich off of us.
Santa is another issue, though, because that coincides with the incarnation of our Savior. Our thought is, why on earth would we want to add something fake to a holiday that is already so amazing and TRUE? As I said to the kids just yesterday when they asked why we didn’t do Santa, “It would be like choosing to eat an old hot dog from the floor when someone is offering you a gourmet meal.” In other words, Christmas is so wonderful and so absolutely true that it doesn’t need anything extra. Scripture calls it “the fullness of time,” after all. At best including Santa can confuse a vitally important moment in redemption history, and at worst it could take glory away from our Savior and give it to a fairy tale.
We do have a family tradition that is similar to Santa, but happens earlier in December and is rooted in Church history as well as my Dutch heritage. On December 5 we put out our wooden shoes and on December 6 they are filled with candy and a simple gift from St. Nicholas on St. Nicholas’ Day. As with the Tooth Fairy, the kids know it’s their parents, but it’s still a lot of fun to pretend. We don’t have a problem with this little celebration because it’s not confused with any Biblical observance. And the real St. Nicholas (from whom the Santa figure evolved) was a very interesting and godly character from early Church history. From what we know of him, he was persecuted for his faith and did much good to help the poor. So on top of a little fun celebration we get to give them a dose of education, too.
Whew! That was a long answer to your question. Probably more than you wanted. These are not issues that we would necessarily condemn other parents for making different decisions about, if they made those decisions prayerfully and wisely. However this is what we have come up with for our family, and by God’s grace we hope it is honoring to Him.
Keep those good questions coming!