For a long time – until last Christmas – we did all the fantasy characters with our kids. Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny. We didn’t see anything wrong with perpetuating the myth. Along with that went all the commercialism associated with said characters – Christmas stockings, Easter eggs, a Tooth Fairy pillow, etc.
Hubby and I got to talking during the Christmas season last year and realized that if our kids came across the truth of these stories on their own, we would lose credibility with them. The question we asked ourselves was, “If we ‘lie’ to them about Santa Claus, how can we be sure they believe us about Jesus?” The answer was, quite simply, we couldn’t. We live in a time where Jesus isn’t here physically. We have to train our children to believe in him and love him unconditionally – and yes, experience him – without ever laying eyes on his physical body. The same is true for those holiday and special life event characters. We expect our kids to believe in the truth of those figures. But they’re not real. And if our children decide that we’ve lied to them (as opposed to simply “having fun”), we have no basis in matters of faith.
That was a frightening thought.
So we had a conversation with the boys. We told them that the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny don’t exist; we had been the ones giving money for teeth and Easter baskets. We told them the real story of Saint Nicholas. We even traded out our “traditional” Christmas stockings – designed to hold lots of small gifts – out for holiday themed socks (yes, regular socks from the apparel department of Fred Meyer). Our new stockings remind us of the simplicity of the true gift of Christmas – God’s son. And that we should be caring for others during the season, not just buying gifts for ourselves. Just like the real Saint Nicholas did.
It was a little bit of a tough pill for them to swallow, but they did so with no less grace than I would expect from my children. And now we have confidence that they’ll believe us when we tell them that they need to have real faith in important things.