Tonight we went to see my mother with my children and the subject of Christmas was naturally brought up being so close. We sang some Christmas carols to prepare for the season. While others were singing Santa and North Pole songs, I took it upon myself (playing the role of the faithful pastor) to balance our excitement with the good Christian Christmas songs. (Waiting for applause to slow down). My daughters were just wanting to sing the Santa songs. My wife asked my oldest daughter Katelynn (7yrs old) before I started the balancing act, “What is Christmas all about”? To which she responded “Presents, candy, Christmas tree, presents [again], and Santa.” My wife looked at me with the I-am-about-to-laugh-because-I-know-how-much-trouble-she-is-going-to-be-in-from-daddy look. Then she said, “Katelynn, Christmas is about Jesus, not Santa.”  

I know you THINK you know where this is going, but you don’t. At first, my reaction was the typical OK, this confirms it. We are not watching anymore Santa movies, cutting way back on the Santa fun, and not going to talk about getting presents anymore. But that never feels right. I quickly turned away from that and started singing the Santa songs with them. Why?

Well, everyone is going to hate me, but why not? I will just dive right in. I don’t have that much trouble with Santa, sleigh bells, Frosty, and presents being emphasized at Christmas. I won’t even get too uptight with situations where Santa becomes the priority. (Waiting now for boos and hissing to cease). Santa is fun. Frosty is silly. And presents give us a chance to teach to give and exercise the gift of giving (since it is more blessed to give than receive). My daughter did forget the true meaning of the Christmas and I could have gotten very angry. But here is the thing: generally speaking, she hardly ever forgets about Christ. Christ is part of her life everyday. She talks to her friends about Him, she reads her Bible, she asks great questions, prays with me, she often voluntarily gives her allowance for others, and she honors her mother and I. Heck, she is even having me teach her Greek (no, I did not force this!). Who am I to step in when she is singing Christmas carols that don’t mention Christ and say in a rather legalistic fashion that she can’t sing those because it dishonors Christ? I have looked through my Bible and I cannot find where Christ gave a command to celebrate His birth on a particular day of the year. Yet He did say to celebrate the meaning of his birth everyday of the year.

This Katelynn is doing. What message am I sending by mandatorily sanctifying a particular day or season when every day is sanctified? I know that there are some days that we set aside in special way, and I have no problem with that. Neither do I have a problem when we set aside particular times of the year to focus on God and what He has done. But if Katelynn is doing everything else right and not forgetting about God throughout the year, I should not get upset if she forgets about what the meaning of Christmas is. I should not demonize Santa and other “secular” Christmas cheer when it is the life throughout the year that is important. I would rather my daughter tell one of her friends about what Christ means to her in July than to have her focus on the manger in December. Telling others about Christ all year round is commanded in Scripture and is the true meaning of Christmas.

As well, [stepping on my box] it would seem that there are so many people who choose to set aside all their secularism in December and require that there be a moratorium called on all things not pertaining to Christ, but forget the rest of the year. This seems to evidence a loss of priorities. I have often heard it said by Christians that Santa has taken over Christ in December, but I would argue that December has taken over Christ for Christians.

Should Christians play Santa? I have no problem with it. Personally, I can’t bring myself to tell my children that he actually exists, but I have no problem with others who do and I have no problem singing Christmas carols that don’t involve Christ so long as Christ is the focus of our lives, not just our Decembers. If Christ is not the focus of our lives January-November, December is not going to make any difference anyway because, contrary to popular belief, December does not sanctify the rest of the year.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

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