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Dear Gramps,
Sometime ago, I was having a discussion with my seminary teacher (also a former Bishop) about lying, and how he told us it was wrong. I remember asking him if it was wrong to lie to your children about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, and his reply was, “Oh well that’s okay, because it’s fun.” So lying is ok when it’s fun? Well now that I’m a parent, I am not sure what would be the best way to go about telling my child about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. I somehow feel it is wrong to lie to our children about this because; well it’s a flat out lie. Not to mention that it takes away from the true meaning of Christmas and Easter. I feel that if I lie to my child out of amusement and fun, that I have no right to tell him not to lie. Kids are not what we say, but what we do; and we must set a good example for them to follow. What is your take on this?
Thanks,
Chuck

Dear Chuck,

There is no question that we need to be honest in our thoughts, actions and comments.  In 2 Nephi 2 we learn that Satan is the father of all lies:   18″ … he sought also the misery of all mankind. Wherefore, he said unto Eve, yea, even that old serpent, who is the devil, who is the father of all lies, …”  And in D&C 42 the Lord commands us that:  21 Thou shalt not lie; he that lieth and will not repent shall be cast out.  He did not tell us that it was okay to tell a “white”, “little”, for “fun” lie.

The following appeared in the December 1976 Ensign:  “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:

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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.

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.” Ensign December 1976.

I do feel strongly we should center our Christmas celebrations around the birth of our Savior in Church meetings and parties.  While serving as a Bishop,our Ward Christmas parties were centered around the birth of Jesus.  We would have three “wise” men bring gifts to each of the children as they did to the Christ Child or we would have each family bring a gift to be given to a less fortunate family.  I am happy to see that many congregations are having Christmas parties without Santa.

You will need to decide how you will handle it with your own children.  Christmas was a very special time of the year for me when I was a youth.  As with many my age, we didn’t have a lot, but my parents always made Christmas a special day that I have many fond memories of.  My wife and I continued this tradition with our children.  I don’t ever remember having felt that my parents lied to me.

Gramps

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