There is an either/or about Christmas. You hear preachers talking about it. You hear well-meaning Christians discussing it. You hear mothers and fathers wondering about it. In fact, the movie "The Miracle on 34th Street" puts it out in front of us. What I am talking about is the decision as to whether or not a Christian can have Santa Claus. Should a Christian parent tell his/her child that there is a Santa Claus, when Santa is not the real reason for the season? Jesus is the reason for the season. Christmas is all about the birth of Christ and not about some guy in a red suit. And if you tell your child about Santa, allowing them to have Santa in their lives, then you are turning your back upon Jesus and the true meaning of Christmas.
After all, Christmas is about the birth of the Savior. That is what we learn on "A Charlie Brown Christmas." When Charlie Brown asks, "Can anyone tell me the true meaning of Christmas?" Linus does not answer, "It's about Santa Claus and his giving of presents to good little boys and girls." No, he quotes Luke 2. (To me that is the best part of the movie, and seeing that scene gives me the joy of Christmas. It is all about, "While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born and she gave birth to her firstborn, a Son...") There is absolutely no way that a Christian can have Santa and still celebrate Christmas.
We live in a time when it is one or the other - Christ or Santa.
But is that the truth? Is it really one or the other? Do we have to make a choice? I would like to say that there is another option. It was the very option that we opted to follow. A Christian can have Santa Claus while celebrating the true meaning of Christmas. We did that very thing. We taught our children the true meaning of Christmas. they understood that Christmas was about the birth of the Savior of the world, the Son of God. They celebrated year after year that Jesus was born. They rejoiced at the wonder of the Child in the manger. Their eyes sparkled as they took part in the Christmas program each year. They sang with gusto (well, Rachael sang with gusto, Matthew just took part since he didn't like to sing in front of people). Celebrating the true meaning of Christmas, our children had the fullness of Christmas.
And yet they also had Santa Claus. They went to bed on Christmas Eve in wonder that somehow Santa Claus would come to our house and leave them presents. They were wide-eyed when they got up early on Christmas morning and there were presents there where there was only empty space the night before. They were sure that they heard Santa on the roof. They were certain that Santa ate their cookies and drank their milk. They were convinced that the reindeer indeed ate the special food that we left out for them.
Santa was real to them. And when all was said and done, if you asked them what Christmas was all about, they would tell you, "Jesus' birth." Santa was real to them but the real meaning of Christmas was about the birth of their personal Savior, the Son of God. Our children are a living example that a Christian can remember the full meaning of Christmas, the birth of our Savior. And at the same time, they were able to have the fun part of Santa Claus and the wonder that held for a few years. Santa lives only for a couple years in the lives of the children. Jesus lives forever in the heart of the Christian.
Jesus is the reason for the season. Santa Claus will even tell you that fact.