The Case for Keeping Santa Claus in Christmas

Santa Claus and Jesus seem to be in a perpetual competition for the Christmas spotlight. When you ask a child who Christmas is about you, never know which of the two contenders will win the battle.

As Christian parents, we worry because our children often seem to be more focused on Santa Claus than they are on Jesus. We worry because they seem more interested in what toys they are going to get than on the spiritual significance of what we are celebrating. We worry that Christmas has been taken over by consumerism, and we wonder if Santa Claus is the culprit. While I agree that it is important to vigilantly resist the pull of consumerism that certainly threatens to hijack the holiday, I’d like to take a minute to advocate on behalf of Jolly Old Saint Nick.

Before we completely throw him under the bus, let’s consider what Santa Claus brings to the Christmas table.

Santa Claus brings hope.

The month of December is a time of joyful anticipation for children because they believe that on the night of the 24th this jolly old elf is going to slide down their chimneys and leave them all sorts of good things. The weeks before Christmas are filled with excited conversation about what Santa is going to bring, who is going to sneak into the living room to see him, and whether he’ll eat the cookies and give Rudolf the carrots. The anticipation, the hope, is almost as magical as the event itself. There are few things in life as powerful as hope—the joyful anticipation of something wonderful that is going to happen very soon transforms our present reality.

Santa Claus brings wonder.

Santa Claus exists in a world of wonder. How in the world does he get down the chimney? And how does he get back up? There is so much we don’t know about Santa Claus, and we are left to ask and ponder and wonder. Children can talk for hours, imagining a million different scenarios to explain how he gets to all of the children in the world on that one night, how he carries all of those toys, and how in the world a bunch of reindeer can make a sleigh fly! The mystery of Santa Claus fills a child’s imaginations with mystery and awe and wonder.

Amy Bost Henegar
Amy Bost Henegar
Amy Bost Henegar is a minister for the Manhattan Church of Christ in New York City. She is a graduate of Pepperdine University and Fuller Theological Seminary, and recently completed a Doctor of Ministry degree at New York Theological Seminary. She spent the first part of her ministry in hospital chaplaincy and has been in congregational ministry since the early 2000s. She is one of the leaders of the Community of Women Ministers, a group that provides support and friendship for Church of Christ women pursuing vocational ministry.

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