The issue of Santa bringing gifts on Christmas Eve is one of much debate within Christian circles. Questions arise such as: how do we tell them Santa is real and God is real and then later Santa is not real and expect them to believe in God? How can I flat out lie to my children? Doesn't Santa take our focus off of the true meaning of Christmas?
I had Santa when I was little. I never found it a conflicting issue with God, and neither did my sister, to my knowledge. However, I was not sure on which side I stood when the time came for my daughter's first Christmas. My husband and I decided that we would let the kids lead. We would not lie to them, but we would only tell them what they asked. We decided we would not actually tell them Santa came on Christmas Eve, but we wouldn't say that he didn't either. We would not call the gifts on Christmas morning "Gifts from Santa," rather "Christmas morning surprises." We were really unsure of how it would go.
My daughter was only two when our first issue came up. She was a deep thinker from the start and as we sat there making Christmas cookies that year, she asked me, "Is Santa like Jesus, is that why I can't see him?" I knew then that was where I had to make a decision. It was an easy one to make. My daughter's salvation and faith in Christ could not be confused with a make-believe story of Santa. I explained to her that Jesus was real and that Santa was a made-up story that people like to pretend at Christmas. I told her it was like when she played dress up and pretended to be a princess, etc. She understood and continued to "pretend" Santa was coming that year and the years to follow. Her brother didn't ask outright and we didn't tell him outright, but as he asks his simple questions about Santa, we make sure to give him honest answers. He believes in Santa but is starting to realize that Daddy is that jolly old elf!
Santa is a beautiful story of giving and joy, and in a way reflects the meaning of Christmas - giving and joy. We should embrace the story in just that way to add it to our Christmas celebration, not having to decided between Santa and Jesus. Christmas is just not the same to me without little ones going to bed early so they can wake mom and dad up at the break of dawn and run out to see what is awaiting them under the tree. It is innocence, joy and beautiful.
In whatever way you choose to approach tomorrow morning, I hope your morning is filled with laughter, love and the joy that Christ brought into the world that Christmas day long ago!