Beyond Santa Claus – Helping Kids Discover the True Meaning of Christmas
by Lori Ramsey – real life parenting with a mom with 6 kids
Little children believing in Santa Claus brings a whole new depth of magic to the Christmas season. I know what it’s like to sneak off to go Christmas shopping with the little ones clueless. When ours grew older and more aware, we told them we went to meet with Santa’s elves. It was a tale told to me by my mother and I completely believed her. I thought when she left me with my grandparents, she honestly spoke with a real elf. To my memory, she actually did talk to an elf. But I also have other memories of that time and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
On the not so magical side of the Santa Claus belief is the kids who ask for toys they never received. I remember asking for a particular doll and being disappointed on Christmas morning that Santa didn’t bring it to me. But he gave it to the little girl down the street. My parents told me all sorts of tales as to why Santa wouldn’t give me what I asked for and would give it to the kids up the road.
The reasons above have a good argument for the total belief in Santa Claus. Where do you draw the line for your children? I know parents who will go out and buy everything on their child’s wish list to the point of being ridiculous. Then there are the kids who barely get anything. My daughter asked me one year why Santa would choose to pour the gifts on some and not on others.
Some parents make the choice to be honest with their kids from the beginning and the belief in Santa is never practiced in their homes. These are the children who will tell other kids Santa isn’t real and then you have the discussions with your children if he’s real or not.
We do allow our children to believe in Santa Claus, but we try to portray Santa as more of a human who has limited resources and how he has to shop for toys throughout the world and sometimes he can’t find individual items, so he has to substitute. I feel it’s often a tangled web when we get into it. I am relieved when they outgrow the whole Santa thing because then we can be real about it. It begs the question, what should we be teaching our children about Christmas and Santa Claus?
Teach children from a very young age the true meaning of Christmas. Turn the table instead of it being all about what they want. Instead, make it be about how they can give to others. The real meaning of Christmas is the first gift our Father in Heaven brought to us, our Savior Jesus Christ. His life came to show us the way and in this, we can experience the real meaning of Christmas. We need to show our children what it means to be a cheerful giver.
Examples of Giving
Giving is the way to show the real meaning of Christmas goes beyond giving gifts to our family and friends. We do that anyway. Giving to those we don’t know or who aren’t within our circle shows our children how we can express Christmas in an entirely different way. Start by letting your kids see you give. Give to the Salvation Army, let your child drop money in the red bucket. Give to the holiday charities that stand in front of busy stores and on street corners. This is a start.
Many different avenues of giving exist around the holiday season. Often, we may overlook these opportunities but they offer an excellent chance for teaching our children what it means to care truly for our fellow man. Find a store that hosts the Christmas Tree giving, sometimes referred to as Angel Trees. You choose a card that lists a child and their little wish list. You can then take the list and purchase the items for the child in need. This can be a fun experience for your child to help choose the gifts. Explain to them they are giving to a child who wouldn’t have a Christmas otherwise.
Ask your local church to help gather items for families in need. Every community has families who feel a greater need for food, clothing, and even toys during the holiday season. Go grocery shopping and purchase an entire Christmas meal for a family in need. Let your children help to prepare the package including wrapping gifts. Find a way to give these boxes anonymously to families in need. If the church doesn’t know of such households, ask the local authorities, such as the local social services, and ask around in general.
Start a food drive. Take initiative. Have your family and friends help with giving and meeting needs. Keep your children involved in the process of helping others. This is an excellent way to give back to a community and especially to those who are hurting during the holidays. Do a coat drive and make sure all the children in school have a good coat. You can probably have your church or local clubs and businesses get involved in this process. The list of needs is endless. Find a need and fill it. Let your child know this is the joy of giving and in helping those around us.
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