Monday, December 9, 2013

Why we teach our kids to believe in Santa

 I've recently discovered online tonight that not everybody shares my warm feelings about Santa Claus, and have even gone so far as to call parents who teach their children that Santa is real, liars. This made me so sad and I immediately thought of one of my favorite books of all times A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I think it gives the best reasoning I have ever heard for the importance of believing in Santa Claus.
“Because,” explained Mary Rommely simply, “the child must have a valuable thing which is called imagination. The child must have a secret world in which live things that never were. It is necessary that she believe. She must start out by believing in things not of this world. Then when the world becomes too ugly for living in, the child can reach back and live in her imagination. I, myself, even in this day and at my age, have great need of recalling the miraculous lives of the Saints and the great miracles that have come to pass on earth. Only by having these things in my mind can I live beyond what I have to live for.”
So beautifully put. The world can be an ugly place, and I love that memories of Santa are one of the things that makes my time on earth a little more lovely. This is one of the reasons I've decided to continue the tradition of believing in Santa with my children. I believe the memories of magical Christmases have helped me look for the magical moments that sometimes I could easily overlook as an adult. I count the times I've sat together at the dinner table with family, noticing each smiling face as magic, you know, the hallmark card sort of type. Little moments that happen every day can have that same magic feeling as Christmas does. 

Often during Christmas there are ample opportunities for service as well which also create spiritual feelings related to Christmas. I believe Santa is also an important example of performing service, he sees all children the same and treats every one with love. Santa and the Savior are both examples of loving your neighbor and how we should treat one another. 

However, I don't want to down play the importance of the Saviors birth in any way. He is the most important reason we celebrate Christmas, and our children are very aware of the nativity story and the importance of Jesus in their lives. I don't feel that allowing them to believe in something magical for a time, and seeing the delight on their faces Christmas morning, lessens the joy our children feel when learning about the Savior during this season.

One of my favorite memories was my first Christmas at my aunt Debi's house. It was a ritual of mine to sneak into the living room in the middle of the night in hopes to catch Santa Claus. As I came down the large staircase and tried to see into the foyer I saw red light and was sure it meant Santa was there. I squinted trying to adjust my eyes and sat when I reached the second to last step. 

What I saw was a 3 foot tall Christmas tree with red lights and red decorations. Missed him again I thought, but he’s been here, I know it!  I wonder why he would leave us another tree? It is beautiful though, just exactly the way I would have decorated if it were mine. 

The next morning I discovered that my presents were under this small tree instead of the big one where the adults presents were. I couldn't believe the little tree was actually mine. It was as if Santa had left behind some of his magic. Every year after that I would set up the little tree with the red lights in my bedroom, and revel in the cozy feeling it gave. Of course when I was older I knew the tree was bought by my aunt but the knowledge of that didn't lessen the warm memories it provoked.

I never wanted to stop believing in Santa no matter how old I was. By the time an adult finally broke the news to me, I had already kind of figured Santa was mythical, but I was hoping nobody would tell me the truth so I could continue to pretend he was real. I wanted so much to hold onto one magical thing in my life. Now, I love getting to relive some of that magic through my children's eyes, and hope that they will have wonderful memories from this time of year to look back on as well when they are grown. I do not believe for an instant that believing in Santa detracts them from also feeling reverence towards the Savior and the reasons for his birth.

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