Christmas, Santa, Elves and Rudolph

As we move through the shopping, decorating, and special traditions of Christmas, we remember the true meaning of this glorious day and relate it to our children. As the popular saying goes, “Jesus is the reason for the season”.

Despite the real message of Christmas, questions about Santa, elves, and why reindeer fly on Christmas Eve still exist and need to be addressed. The dilemma of balancing materialism and gift giving with the understanding of the gift God sent to us one night long ago can weigh heavy on the heart as does the many myths associated with Christmas.

Parents recognize that children need to be guided through the maze of distractions that this season offers. They also recognize that when children leave the protected environment of home and church, they enter a world where they must face and respond to the comments and beliefs of others. Because children cannot understand pagan origins or draw the line between reality and fantasy, and parents find this complicated to explain, the status quo becomes the easier path to follow.

But as role models, it is important for parents to be honest. The environment in which we live promotes and supports the tales that can harm a child’s trust. The belief that a frog will become a prince, that good almost immediately triumphs over evil, and that Santa exists to make toys for children can be misleading. Marrying a frog can result in prolonged heartache for a couple that is unequally yoked, evil often appears to prosper, and Santa, as depicted today, does not exist. Sadly, there is a day of reckoning when children learn that what they were told is not true.

No parent wants to rob their children of the joy and excitement that these stories and expectations can provide. They often do not know how to explain them in a world that encourages these beliefs and widely held fabrications, and therefore they allow the fabrications to exist. They have forgotten the pain they felt when they themselves learned the truth.

Fortunately, children are resilient and incredibly forgiving. Thus, if parents weave the truth into the myths of Christmas and emphasize those truths, the forgiving nature of a child will remember the words of the parent and allow those truths to override the myths. As a mother, grandmother and author, I believe that parents should be honest when confusing circumstances exist. To do so, parents can consider giving their children a simple explanation that provides the truth while allowing the ethereal fabrication to exist. Why there are Santa’s, why elves are Santa’s helpers, and why reindeer fly is a challenge to explain and a greater challenge to allow yet negate.

Here is a simplified story that parents might use as a base from which to build their own story for laying the foundation to teach their children the truth about Christmas:

Once upon a time, long ago when Adam and Eve lived in the beautiful Garden of Eden, everything was good. One day, the evil Satan caused Adam and Eve to stop listening to God and commit sin. But when they did, everything changed and life was no longer good.

But God loved Adam and Eve so much that He promised to send them a Savior who could help them find forgiveness for their sin so they could come back to God.
In time the baby Jesus, God’s Son was born and grew to become the Savior who would bring the forgiveness that had been promised. This could help every person who ever lived or died. God’s children were so thankful for God’s gift to them that they began to celebrate the birth of Christ every year.

Over the many years, the celebration of Jesus’ birth would grow into a wonderful occasion. The people would cook special meals, invite others to visit, and give gifts to one another as a celebration of the birthday of The Lord Jesus. This day became known as Christmas.

From the time of Christ, men of God who taught the people about Christ were inspired to travel the world. They told people in far off lands that the Lord Jesus had brought them an offer of forgiveness and provided a way for them to become worthy to spend eternity with God.

Some of those who brought the news of God’s gift to men were known as the Apostles of God and others that followed were missionaries and ministers. Many brought the good news of God’s gift to people who lived in the distant parts of the world, and one was a very religious man who was the bishop of a church in a far off land called Turkey, and his name was Saint Nicholas.

Saint Nicholas was also called The Good Saint because he was so kind to everyone and because he brought gifts to adults and children who were very poor. He dressed in fur and the long robes of a bishop to keep warm and he carried gifts of money, fruit, nuts, candy and other items to those who were poor. He told those he visited the good news of forgiveness that God offered them through the birth and love of Christ. He often dropped coins into boots left on the doorsteps of the homes of the poor and became so popular that others imitated what he did and how he dressed.

But, Satan, God’s enemy and the enemy of all mankind, did not want the people to learn about God and did not want them to know that Christ had come for the forgiveness of sin. Satan hated those who were loving and kind and those who tried to help others or teach the people about God’s gift to them.

Satan was so evil that he began to fill the minds of children and adults with the desire for larger and more expensive gifts and cause them to forget why the gifts were given. Satan wanted the people to forget that gifts were given and received as tokens of love in imitation of God’s greater gift to them.

Satan used Christmas to introduce greed into people’s lives and make them want more and more gifts and to push away all thoughts of the Baby Jesus and the life and sacrifice of Christ. Satan was angry to think that anyone would travel to many places in the world to spread the word of God’s gift to all men, so he confused the people. He made some believe that Christmas Day existed only to create and deliver toys and gifts to children and not to be reminded that they represented God’s gifts.

Satan took advantage of the many traditions and symbols that had developed as part of the Christmas celebration and used reindeer and sleds, Christmas trees and Yule logs, greeting cards and even those who wanted to copy what the Good Saint Nicholas did, to distract the people from the true meaning of Christmas. He did everything he could to make them forget that Christ was born on that day and that through Him we would be able to see the Kingdom of Heaven.

Over time many children and then adults no longer understood that the Christmas celebration had originated to bring them the true meaning of Christmas and through gifts of love, turn their attention to the gift of Christ. The loss of this understanding is sad because what God gave us is a precious gift for everyone and many have forgotten this.
So, if you understand the true meaning of Christmas you must teach others that the first Santa, Saint Nicholas, brought God’s love and the news of Christ’s birthday to others. When we think of Santa today, or his helpers, or of sleds and reindeer and Christmas trees and gifts, we should remember the Lord Jesus. The real reason Saint Nicholas, the first Santa visited children throughout the world was to remind them, through gift giving, that God gave the greatest gift ever when He gave His Son.

And always remember that God can use your words to touch the heart of other children and use your love and stories and all the parts of Christmas to bring His word and His love to others. God knows that His enemy Satan will try to make you forget the truth about Christmas, but trusts you to help Him spread the news that the greatest gift of all is the gift of The Lord Jesus.

All of us, and every Santa in the entire world, and all the gifts we give to one another, should help us remember Christ and what He did for us and help us thank God for giving us the first and most precious gift of Christmas.

So whenever we see a Santa, let us be reminded of the true meaning of Christmas and of the gifts that represent the greatest gift ever given: The Lord Jesus Christ. And when we do this and thank God for what He has given us we will gain God’s blessing, and help everyone else find God’s blessing too.

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