This Christmas Tradition Turns Your Kids into Santa and Teaches Generosity

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Santa is kinda controversial. We all know that most Christmas traditions include Santa, but every parent has to make that decision for their own family. We all want our kids to have a magical Christmas, but should Santa be in the mix?

I grew up without having Santa because my parents felt like they would be lying to me and my siblings. They wanted us to focus on the true reason for Christmas- Jesus. When I was growing up, I never felt like I was missing out without having Santa. 

My husband, on the other hand, grew up with Santa and enjoyed the whimsy of it all. He even sports a red t-shirt with Santa on it that says, “I Believe.” Ah yes, this is a recipe for a disagreement in the making. We had quite a few discussions before we landed on some middle ground, and honestly, I love how we ‘do’ Santa in our house.

So how did we reconcile our polar views (no pun intended)?  

My husband, who grew up with Santa, views him as a fun make-believe tradition that helps children exercise creativity. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that if I go along pretending that Santa is real, I’d be setting my kids up for disappointment.  What will happen when our kids eventually find out the truth? Will they start doubting other things we say that are real, like Jesus? 

So instead of the classic Santa approach of focusing on being good so you get presents, we are teaching our kids to BE Santa.

In reality, Santa is a modern-day parable of Jesus (if you tweak it right). Jesus is so generous to us and doesn’t expect or need anything in return. He meets our wants and desires even if we don’t say them out loud.  

We want our kids to practice BEING Santa to others. When our kids give to others, without expecting anything in return, they BECOME Santa. So instead of our kids getting tons of toys from Santa on Christmas morning, they are given the opportunity to give.

Let me put it plain and simple, this is how we DO Santa:

ONE

The Gift

Our kids get a little stocking from Santa with a few pieces of fruit in them, plus a card with a $5 bill. We didn’t do this with our son last year since he was only one, but we did it with our three-year-old daughter. The card tells our kids that they get to BECOME Santa.

The money they were given can’t be spent on themselves. They need to buy something for someone else (preferably someone in need) with that money.

TWO

Be Santa

Last year, we talked to our daughter about who she would like to BE Santa to.

At the time, one of the ladies in my weekly Bible Study had just passed away from breast cancer. My daughter would play every week with her children, while all the moms met up and shared life with each other.

My sweet girl wanted to be Santa to her four children and her husband. Let me tell you, it was a proud mom moment, and it was totally her idea.

THREE

Buy the Gifts

As you can guess, five dollars doesn’t go very far to help a family of five (you could use any amount), so we pretty much had two choices: The Dollar Store or Goodwill on their Monday $1 day. She chose Goodwill.

My daughter took her $5 and went up and down the aisles looking for the right color tags and what our wonderful friends’ kids would love.

She found a Little People princess castle, a big dump truck toy, a pretty dress, and BSU football shirts for the oldest boy and dad, all for a whopping grand total of $5. Our girl was so proud when she handed over her $5 bill (I paid the tax) to the Goodwill clerk.

FOUR

Preparing the Gifts

We came home and washed everything up and my sweet daughter chose to add some of her own Little People to go with the princess castle.

She ended up wrapping the presents as best she could on her own. Martha Stewart would cringe at the masking tape she used, but it’s the thought and effort that counts.

She colored them a card and everything. We made a meal and brought that over with the gifts ‘Santa’ (our daughter) wanted to give them.

FIVE

Giving the Gifts

Let me tell you, tears flowed by pretty much every adult there. My husband and I told the family the whole backstory. My sweet daughter was able to see their kids open the presents she worked so hard on. The kids loved their gifts. It was such a blessing to see the pure generosity from the heart of a child, even a three-year-old.

 

My kids will remember BEING Santa, and my hope is that this kind of generosity becomes their DNA. In our family mission statement, one of the Rich family traits is generosity, and BEING Santa gives our children the opportunity to practice giving.

For children, the classic way of doing Santa isn’t focused on generosity. Santa detracts from the real reason we celebrate Christmas, but BEING Santa aligns with the character of our Savior, and I’m all for that!!

We still read the occasional book about Santa, but our kids know that Rudolf and the whole gang is pretend. Our kids sat on Santa’s lap for pictures with our kids’ cousins, and we’re totally fine with that. But on our way to see Santa, I overheard my daughter telling her grandma that she IS Santa. Yes, my sweet child, you ARE Santa, and all of us should be.

Does your family do Santa? What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions? Let me know in the comments below…

4 Comments

  1. Lynette

    I love this! What an awesome tradition, fun and teaches so much. Blessings to you and your family 💖

    Reply
    • Amberlee Rich

      Thanks! We have loved this Christmas tradition and I’m excited to see it develop as our kids get older.

      Reply
  2. Wendy shaw

    My family picks a name off of the tree and buys a gift for that name. This year we are helping some one close and dear to the family that needs a little help. With gifts for whole family and food and other items. We have done it in the pass. But this time my family has really stepped up to help.

    Reply
    • Amberlee Rich

      That’s great Wendy! I love that you are practicing generosity for those in need.

      Reply

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