While a friend told me about her daughter’s stolen bike, her five-year-old interrupted. “We don’t need to pray about my bike, Mommy. I’ll ask Santa Claus for one.”
While I was telling my second-grade Sunday School class about the birth of Jesus, little Charlie raised his hand. “Can we talk about what Santa Claus brought us instead?”
Those memories plus my own childhood anxiety of being “good enough” for Santa, kept me from playing the Santa Claus game with my children. I wanted truth. We read The Night Before Christmas, but we treated it as the fiction it was. Edna Barth’s Holly, Reindeer and Colored Lights helped explain cultural Christmas compared to the celebration of Christ’s birth.
However, I didn’t want Santa to seem like forbidden fruit. A friend in college had lamented the lack of Santa in her life. St. Nicholas Day helped bridge that gap.
One year, I surprised the children with filled stockings on December 6th, which was St. Nicholas Day. We discussed the legends of St. Nicholas. That tradition continued a few years. Later, filled stockings made their way to my sons’ colleges as their exam-time care packages.
How have you handled cultural myths?
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