Christmastime is here! It’s time for Charlie Brown, Frosty and all the other classic tv shows we love. Then, of course, It’s a Wonderful Life, Home Alone and our favorite Santa movies will be on multiple video platforms. So, what are we, as Christians to make of all this?
Talk to 20 people and you’ll probably get 30 answers!
For many, any mention of Santa Claus leads to controversy. I was practically thrown out of a church daycare once at the mere mention of Santa! I’ve (Santa) also been a guest at churches and even stood in pulpits to share the story of St. Nicholas/Santa.
I’ve had faithful Christians tell me, “We don’t do Santa”. Yet when I walk into their den, I see Elsa from Frozen, Mater from Cars and numerous other characters our children love. We see photos of children with Mickey, Minnie, Elsa and other fantasy characters. I know a couple of young ladies that have photos with multiple Elsa performers and each of these were THE Elsa to those children. I’ll leave all those characters to others and just address Christmas here.
So, what do we make of Santa? Can Santa be a part of a Christ centered home?
Of course, that is a personal preference, but I’d like to share a bit of my story.
As a child, we did visit Santa and he did leave us gifts, but it wasn’t our primary focus. Christ was always the center of our Christmas celebrations. I remember when I figured it all out, but I don’t think there was ever a real conversation with my parents. It was just a simple acceptance of facts.
When my sons were born, we visited Santa, then I became Santa!
My transition started as a necessity. I was the photographer and at a school to take photos of the children with Santa. But….. where’s Santa? He didn’t show up that day so I put on the suit and beard.
Little did I know that God had a plan and this was just the beginning!
After that day, I began to serve as the one in the red suit. I’ll never forget the day the son of our friends sat on my knee. We were visiting his school and I saw him approaching. I just knew Tyler was going to recognize who was behind the beard! Whew, I got past that secret. Then one day after Christmas, his mom told me Tyler was looking at the photo on the refrigerator and exclaimed “Mom, that’s Mr. Durward!” The other challenge was visiting my son’s school! I knew most of the children there and expected someone to blow the whistle. But my secret remained safe.
As each year passed and I got more involved, I began to realize a greater purpose in wearing the red suit. My venue grew to serving in a mall with other brothers in red and then to nursing homes, church events and many other occasions. Each step of the way, I simply prayed for God to use me in some way but it took many years for me to realize this was a path HE had been steering me in long before I put on the red suit.
There have been instances where children were placed in foster care when Santa recognized a problem.
Families in need sometimes confide in Santa when they won’t anyone else. With these revelations, help
can be summoned as needed. There are also times when Santa lends an ear to a parent that is facing emotional challenges.
Publicly, Santa is supposed to be “politically sensitive”. But this Santa can often be seen praying with children and families. To others looking on, it may just appear as a conversation, but prayers are voiced when God prompts the need. Tears are often shed with and by Santa. Many times, Santa has had to take a brief break to mentally prepare to see the next child. Thankfully, no one waiting in line has ever complained about a brief time-out for Santa to compose himself.
When God calls one to a mission, He always provides the right tools. For several years Ben Nye white makeup was used to cover the red beard. Then, it seems as if almost overnight, my hair and beard were white. In the years prior to this near sudden change, I always shared God’s love and when possible, the story of St Nicholas, but with the advent of a naturally white beard, I recognized the fact that this was a calling into a unique mission field. From a start in Mississippi to Tennessee, Kentucky and for the last 11 seasons in Texas, we have been able to share God’s love through the character of Santa Claus. When we were called to The Woodlands, Texas, we didn’t know anyone here and were reluctant to take the position. With much discussion and prayer, we accepted the call with the understanding that Santa could reach out to hospitals and the “specially abled” population.
We have been blessed to serve so many in such unique situations. The honor of playing with a child in a wheelchair and having mom say “she hasn’t smiled like this in a long time”, then praying with that family is an experience. Then, a few years later to have that same little girl run to Santa’s arms brought tears of joy. There have been many instances of sharing the story of St. Nicholas and his transition to being called Santa Claus. It would take a book to share all what God has allowed this Santa to experience.
My prayer is that I can continue to serve in the red suit as long as possible. I’ve never seen a 100-year-old Santa. My goal is to be one.
So, can Jesus & Santa coexist in a Christian home? I believe so.
May you have a joyous and blessed Christmas Season!
Durward Blanks has been a professional Santa Claus/ St. Nicholas for over thirty years. He is a motivational speaker and writer and enjoys sharing his many life experiences with others. As a follower of Christ, his mission is to share God’s love with as many as possible. You may contact Santa Durward at [email protected] or phone 615.496.1368