I have a sister who never let her son believe in Santa and who stopped celebrating Christmas a few years ago. Her reason was related to the pagan origins of the winter solstice and her conviction that celebrating Christmas would upset God. We had a few discussions on the subject via email, each one citing Scriptures and finally left it at:
One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it... For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself… (Rom.14:5-7)
In my experience, Christmas was a time when it was acceptable to hear songs played overhead about Jesus. Christmas carols were my hymns. Our experiences may be unique in the details, but carry a common human emotion. If I was a young thirsty soul for God, there were bound to be others who felt the same way. If there are others who are spiritually encouraged upon hearing Christmas songs about Jesus Christ, why would I want to do anything that removes the thought of Him, from the public square? Play on “Silent Night”, “Go Tell it on the Mountain” and “Angels We have Heard on High”!
Over the years, I came to appreciate Santa as I participated more in making Christmas happen for someone else, as well as for my own children. Christmas offers abundant opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, God’s gift to us. Every soul insulated from love is touched by the expression of love from others, even strangers, especially at Christmas. My list of people to buy for has only grown over the years as my oldest married and is now the father of 5. Those additional little people and daughter-in-law added a bit more strain to the pocket book so I had decided before venturing out recently that I was not going to buy anything for my daughter’s boyfriend’s son whom I never met. This six year old boy had been one of the many who crossed the border this past year from El Salvador with his mother, who was never married to his father.
I convinced myself that I had enough people to buy gifts for, but the Lord placed in my heart the thought, “Why give anonymously to strangers if you are going to walk past this little boy knowing that he has needs? Whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? (1Jn.3:17) When the Lord places such things in the heart, we don’t buckle under the burden, we are energized by the opportunity. We also know that the Lord is very intentional about His dealings with us, and so if He is leading, He has a reason to do so.
It doesn’t get very cold in El Salvador, so it seemed obvious he would need warm clothes. After purchasing a few winter outfits and toys, I included 2 bilingual books about Jesus. Christmas was such a lifeline to me, and it may be the same for this little boy who has left all of his friends behind and now lives in a country where another language is spoken. Setting politics aside, every soul matters to God and His word says much about caring for strangers and doing for the “least of these”. Santa is a friend to Jesus and makes it possible to give without leaving a sense of obligation to the recipient. Santa is simply the vessel through whom God gives to the world around us. Santa simply means “saint”. Every Christian, according the Bible, is called a saint. It is not a rank, but a title for all true believers. I can truly appreciate Santa for the good that he does in the name of Jesus Christ, inspired by the love and Spirit of God. Of course Santa is real! He’s been sharing the love of God for generations.