What’s a parent to do when asked about Santa Claus by a child?
I don’t believe in lying. I also want to encourage a belief in goodness and delight in unseen, unknown forces that work together for our good. Santa Claus represents that to me. So when asked, you can say that you are Santa’s helper. Recently I told one of my children when asked if Santa is real, “There’s really not a Santa Claus who lives at the North Pole. But the spirit of giving without being noticed or getting credit is real, and that’s what we call Santa Claus.”
Every child and parent can get in on the act of anonymous giving for parents, siblings, friends, relatives, neighbors and even enemies. This spirit of anonymous giving, the spirit of Santa Claus, comes from Saint Nicholas, a real person who followed the example of Jesus, also a real person. Jesus, most of all, exemplified this spirit of anonymous, selfless giving.
(Here’s a picture from our ward Christmas party of my daughter and my baby, terrified of Santa. Poor baby!)
I love the way Tim Slover, a playwright, explains the story of Santa Claus. He has such charming explanations of how Santa does his work and how children can help in Santa’s work by becoming helpers after they know “the secret ” and become “signatories to the pact.” He creatively weaves a story of how all the elements of Christmas (the Christ Child, Santa, reindeer, Rudolph, elves, parents who act in Santa’s behalf) fit together to make a meaningful, spiritual holiday. It’s a holiday about giving and creating a better universe. This story is called The Christmas Chronicles. I’ve encountered different versions of the story of Santa Claus, and this is the best! It will leave you with a song in your heart and a spring in your step, and a belief in Santa, as defined as the “the spirit of anonymous giving.” The story has so many fascinating elements from folk tales and history that you could easily spend a homeschooling month or more studying them.
Here’s what Classical 89, the radio station that helped Tim produce the story, says about the Christmas Chronicles, “The series originates in accounts of the astonishing life and activities of Santa, recalled and told by the author, Tim Slover, to his children. Richard Johnstone is the other primary performer. It all started with a strictly scientific answer to a child’s classic question: ‘How does Santa deliver all those toys all over the world in just one night?’ That’s the query that unlocked the grand adventure to keep the magic in, and the cynicism of the world at bay.”
You can listen below to each episode in audio form (FREE!) through December, or get the book newly published by Random House.
Listen here http://classical89.org/programs/christmaschronicles/
You can purchase the audio CD, mp3 download, or hardcover book here http://classical89.org/programs/christmaschronicles/purchase/
Sounds like a great last-minute Christmas gift for a whole family of relatives or that hard-to-buy-for person!
ExaCtly! We love bringing the real St. Nicholas story into the conversation and have always told our children (when THEY ask) that ANY person who gives a gift in secret is being “a Santa”, just like St. Nicholas was: some wear Santa suits, some even have real white beards…and many don’t. I love that explanation because, not only is it a GREAT help for keeping us all in the spirit of gratitude as we remember the generosity of secret givers in Christmases past, but it also doesn’t really create a problem for anyone when that inevitable conversation comes up among friends.
I like how you state it, too, and thank you for sharing about the Christmas Chronicles: good story.