Guest Post: Mama Hall & Santa

my children love Christmas. they know Christmastime is lots of fun, we make wonderful memories, spend extra time together, and it’s a very special time of year.

and Santa Claus isn’t involved in any of it.

both my husband and i grew up loving Santa Claus at Christmastime. but when we ourselves became parents, we decided to kick Santa to the curb. it was getting too conflicting and confusing to try to celebrate Jesus’ birth and let Santa have center stage. teaching our children to honor God’s one and only Son who was sent to live and die for us became more important than anyone coming by a flying reindeer-pulled sleigh from the North Pole. the gifts under the tree meant less and less as we turn our hearts to The Ultimate Gift from God.

we have taught our children, ages 6 and 3, that Santa is a pretend character that a lot of children think is who brings them presents on Christmas Eve. we teach our children that the Christmas presents they receive are selected lovingly by Mom and Dad, bought with the money that we saved by working hard and making small sacrifices as a family.

our children each get four Christmas gifts: something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. these four presents represent the simplicity and purity of Christmas, and do not distract from what we are intentionally celebrating. just as baby Jesus received the valued gift of gold, the sacred gift of frankincense, and the life-celebrating gift of myrrh, our children receive purposeful, heartfelt gifts that hold meaning.

we teach our children that Christmas is a time to celebrate Jesus’ Birthday, and at someone else’s birthday, it’s not about what we get; it’s about what we give. it is quite a challenge to teach this in our consumerism-Santa-centered world we live in. toy store catalogs pile up in our mailbox, commercials on radio and television blast Christmas sales and encourage adding the latest whatnot to our “wish lists,” and even well-meaning strangers will ask my children what they’re asking Santa to bring them for Christmas this year.

but we have taught them. when the toy store catalogs come, so do the giving catalogs from World VisionCompassion International, and Gospel of Asia. we have taught our children to care for the lost, the crying, and the dying. we have taught them about our responsibility as Christians to share the good news of the gospel, and about Jesus, our Savior. we have taught them to give because God so loved the world that He gave.

birthday parties are fun, and Jesus, of course, gets the best birthday party of all. we celebrate BIG, with a bright and decorated Christmas tree and a birthday cake and homemade cookies. we send cards to all of our family and friends. we talk about that special night in the manger. we get to spend time with grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. we go to church at night and we sing about Jesus, to Jesus. we make meaningful memories for our children and generations to come.    

my children love Jesus, and Christmastime is all about Him. we have a lot of fun, we make wonderful memories, we spend extra time together, and it’s a very special time of year. and Santa Claus isn’t involved in any of it.

Eryn tweeted this week, “We aren’t mad at Santa, we don’t ignore him or hate on him. He just isn’t a part of our Christmas.” 

Eryn Hall is making the most of every single wonderful day according to Ephesians 5:15, and blogging all about it at


  1. This was wonderful. We don’t play ip the santa thing but we haven’t come out and told them either. I think we are going to this year. Though that tradition was part of my own childhood, I feel as if its let it go. I just want there to be no distraction from Jesus…. thank you for this… and your photos are beautiful…

  2. Love this! would ask a couple of things, do u let your children have presents from the rest of the family? (grandparents, uncles , aunta, cousins, neighbours, friends etc), and do u and your husband buy for each other? Please reply to these, thanks, Nicola (Im just interested thats all)

    • Hi Nicola,
      Yes, my children get gifts from other family members. In fact, my mom still pretends they are from Santa. Even though she knows my kids know the truth, she’s just stuck in her old ways 🙂 And yes, my husband and I do buy gifts for each other. We have a lot of fun and no one feels “short changed” because Santa isn’t involved.

  3. I think this is is so easy to get caught up in the commercialised month that is december so focusing more on jesus and less on santa is a lovely way to remember what christmas is all about.

  4. A number of years ago (when our oldest was about 5) I spilled the beans on Christmas Eve NIGHT that Santa was not in face REAL. Man did I think I was going to ruin Christmas. As it turns out she liked the idea of US, her parents, the ones who love her – giving her gifts. What I will remember from that night as we lined up the cookies on the plate for “Santa” to eat and filled the glass with milk were her innocent questions, ones she had not asked before about the validity of the man in the red suit. I remember in that moment having a choice: speak the truth even though it is going to hurt or prepare to perpetuate a lie for a very long time.

    We ripped off the bandaid fast. She cried and I cried. We read the story about the truth behind St. Nic.

    Now we only purchase a 3-4 things per child (I love your idea of 4 items categorized). We focus more on giving to others. This year we bought winter coats for a family in need, a real family we know. We also bought baby basics for a teen mother due soon. A real live mother needing a Christmas blessing.

    What is the spirit of Christmas? What is that truth for your family? Can it include Santa and still be ok? All I know is the choice we made that Christmas eve a few years ago… when with tears I shared the truth. Our family hasn’t been the same.
    Merry Christmas!

    • *fact

      • Thanks for sharing, Jessica. When we celebrate Christmas with my sisters/brothers and my children’s cousins, they all believe in Santa and my kids go along with it. It isn’t the end of the world – we don’t go to extremes to cut Santa out or ignore him. It’s okay. We just told our kids that someday, those people will know the truth.

  5. Great post and beautiful pictures. I love the simplicity of 4 gifts.

  6. I really enjoyed the spirit and the love behind the story. I will share with my friends.

  7. thanks Eryn ! I remember when my (younger) neighbor shared Santa wasn’t real. I felt so bad my parents and my sister went to such great acting to pretend he was. With our son – we didn’t do anything differently, but also didn’t go to great lengths to make something “special” by pretending. One day I told him he couldn’t fly off the couch “because Superman wasn’t real and please GET DOWN! People can’t fly”.

    He looked at me (age 3) and said, “then Santa isn’t real either”. I told him he was right – and Christmas wasn’t about Santa but to rejoice over Jesus’ birth and coming to save us. I didn’t expect him to call out the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny. But he did – and we’ve been ok with it. We still exchange presents and enjoy the holiday spirit – and even dye/hide eggs in the spring.

    When something else happened years later he said, “I believe you because you’ve never lied to me before”. That was worth it!

  8. What an interesting topic!

    It’s been said: “When your child discovers Santa isn’t real, he’s going to question whether God is real, too.” I grew up thinking of Santa as a fun fairy tale – I never once thought it was real, but loved pretending. Then I met my husband, who would love to throw out all of Christmas along with Santa (at least celebrate it when Christ’s birth actually happened, for goodness’ sake…), and it’s required some serious adjustment… 🙂

    Not to be Freudian, but I’ve often thought that parents’ positions on Santa have a lot to do with their own childhood – either they want to mimic it or had a bad experience they want to avoid. I love that your experience is different – a logical approach rather than sentimental. Some great thoughts and a great post.

    • I grew up with Santa but without Jesus, so yes, in a way I am trying to avoid a potentially bad experience. I grew up with a very commercial, very Santa-centered Christmas. I was FLOORED when I found out that Christmas is the celebration of our Savior. I want my children to know Jesus and the truth way before I did.
      Since we never told them that Santa was real, I can’t imagine my kids would ever question if God is real. He is very real and very much alive in our home on a daily basis. Thanks for your comment!

  9. Merry Christmas Eryn! I love your heart!

  10. Wonderful post dear friend. Wishing and hindsight………..we probably would have done the same if we would have been Christians when our daughter was born or even 5 or 6 but with our late start we continue Santa but try to focus on Jesus much more with a great birthday party and many things you say especially as we get closer and closer to him. I pray you and your family have a beautiful and amazing birthday for Jesus. I love you girlfriend.

  11. Betti Caywood says

    Wow! So wonderfully written! This is exactly what we do with our family and for those exact reasons!

  12. Eryn-great post! We were not going to do Santa and caved. Two years ago-we sat down and had a long family talk-our home is more peaceful now-the feeling of trying to keep up with others-dissipating-the knowledge that God provides all and Daddy works hard for the blessings God gives us-keeps us more content. It is hurtful when friends/family tell us we are wrong in this journey we have chosen and choose to live-not argue and accept that we all have choices to make in this life- thanks again!

  13. I have a bittersweet story to share..

    We don’t celebrate Santa either…our boys have been taught by us that they are actors in suits, not real. But there were a couple of years recently where my oldest really liked to visit Santa at the mall and chat with him. If there wasn’t a line we allowed it, the youngest would go with him. This particular Santa worked the part both years and recognized our boys when they’d come for another visit (we’d visit the mall numerous times so Santa got numerous visits from the boys).

    Last year we took the boys to the Breakfast with Santa with Chik-fil-a providing the casual breakfast foods and Santa gave each child there a small gift from Build-A-Bear. My oldest gave the same Santa we grew to recognize all these times, a “million dollar gospel tract” with a Santa pictured on it.

    This year we visited the mall and the Santa was different. I was disappointed. I told my friend about it and she told me she saw in the paper that the Santa we “knew” had died. Maybe a heart attack.

    But- because my son gave him that gospel tract I have hope that we will see “Santa” in heaven 😉

    By the way, teaching our boys the truth about Santa has led to grief with his side of the family who is worldly-oriented, not God oriented.

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