What Shall We Do with Santa Claus?:

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    Each year as Christmas comes around one problem that faces nearly everyone in the Christian world—parents especially—is the question of Santa Claus: “Should we continue to make Santa Claus a part of our Christmas celebration?” The Ensign put the question to a number of Church members and received a surprising range of responses, from the idea that Santa is a false notion and should have no part in Christmas to the idea that there can be a proper balance in Christmas activities, including both the worship of Christ and the spirit of giving embodied in Santa Claus—to the idea that Christ’s birthday shouldn’t be celebrated on December 25th at all, but instead on April 6. Here is a sampling of opinions received. We feel your thinking will be stimulated as a result of reading them:

    I have noticed that those who say they don’t want Santa in Christmas because he is a lie—a fictional character—seem to overlook another deception of a sort. That is, they overlook the fact that the Lord was not born on December 25; he was born on April 6, in the springtime “beauty of the lilies.” So maybe we shouldn’t be celebrating anything on December 25.

    Frankly, it’s hard not to be cynical about the whole subject of Christmas these days. Nevertheless, I have seen a good balance at Christmastime where the worship of the Savior and the spirit of giving embodied in Santa Claus have worked very well together. Maybe it’s the balance that’s really important. Miles L. Bachman, Los Angeles, California

    I never really faced the “problem” of Santa Claus until my small children began to ask each Christmastime, “Who is Santa Claus?”

    I wanted to answer honestly and yet not spoil their joy. So I told them this: Santa Claus is anyone who gives gifts at Christmastime. When you give gifts to Mom or Dad or your friends you are being a Santa Claus. When parents give children gifts at Christmas they are being a Santa Claus. Some people love being a Santa Claus and want to bring joy to children so much that they dress up in a red suit and don a white beard.

    I remind them that Santa Claus is sometimes called St. Nicholas, after a man by that name who lived many hundreds of years ago. This man loved children and often gave them gifts.

    I think it is important to tell them at some point that St. Nicholas and Santa Claus really have nothing to do with celebrating the birth of Christ but that down through the ages they have become associated, perhaps because the wise men gave gifts to the child Jesus. LaRee Farrar, Southfield, Michigan

    Illustrated by R. Hull