How do we teach our kids the true meaning of Christmas without getting distracted by Santa?

Both the traditional view of Santa, delivering presents to “good” little girls and boys—which is a works-based reward system; and this more modern view of Santa, delivering presents to “all” little girls and boys because no one is bad—which is an entitlement reward system—are both contradictory to what Scripture teaches.

The Scripture teaches there is no one good, not even one (Ps 14:3; Rom 3:12). Scripture also teaches that man is born inherently sinful (Rom 5:12,18,19). Based upon Scripture everyone is not good—our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isa 64:6). Thus, humanity deserves God’s punishment and wrath.

Such contradictions make it difficult for Christian parents to celebrate the contemporary beliefs about Santa. Many Christian parents struggle to find the balance between Santa, Elf-on-the-shelf, and Christ.

In the Laxton house, Santa is part of our Christmas rhythm. In fact, this year we added “Rex,” who is our Elf-on-the-shelf guest for the Christmas season. I know some Christians won’t approve and will see the practice of Santa and Rex as shallow and unchristian. Nevertheless, I believe that Christian families can walk and chew gum at the same time—they can keep Christ as the center of the season while at the same time including Santa in their holiday cheer.

Let me share three ways to keep Jesus as the center (as well as the Bible’s teachings) while including Santa in your Christmas festivities.

1) Teach your children that Jesus is the hero of Christmas, and Santa is the helper.

I think what happens many times is parents go overboard with Santa. Santa becomes the central focus of the Christmas season because of what he does—brings …

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