After a very terrible weekend in behavior (both mine and G's) I was strongly convicted about what gift giving really means, especially if Santa plays a part in the giving at Christmas. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ, Who was Himself a gift given to an undeserving people to save us from our sins. He didn't come because we were good, actually it was the very opposite, we weren't/aren't good (to our very core we are evil continually).
So here we are at a celebration of that gift given not based on how we act other than rottenly (is that a word) and yet we use Santa to control our kids using the same concept of gift. Santa won't come bring gifts if you aren't good or well behaved. Well if that is the game we play, then the child doesn't receive a gift, s/he receives payment earned on his/her behavior. I was convicted in that how can I tell G that she will only get gifts if she is being good but then tell her that her being good isn't needed when it comes to the gift of eternal life in Jesus. I do not want to tie her behavior to the word gift.
Now, I am not knocking Santa because the history of St. Nicholas is based on an Orthodox Priest who was loved greatly by the people. He himself was a priest to the Gift that we celebrate on Christmas. St. Nicholas spread the gospel (good news) giving people a gift of life through introducing and celebrating the Babe in the manger (not necessarily the way we do today). So Santa (though his image has been changed to fit our culture) is not necessarily a bad concept (and he visits us on Christmas) in giving gifts that represent the greatest gift of all, but maybe the tying good behavior to it could be rethought.
Well, like I said, bad behavior fit us both this weekend, her instigation and my poor response, such that I took all her presents away from under the tree. Then I was sorely convicted. I gave them back and explained that her gifts weren't based upon her or anything she does or doesn't do but are solely based on me, the giver. I explained that Jesus didn't give us the gift of eternal life based on us but on Himself only. And that Santa gives based on a heart to show Jesus to the world through giving gifts to children.
I explained that some children get things to meet their basic needs rather than things that would be useless for survival and that we get to be to those children like Santa through giving money to the church or shoe boxes through Samaritan's purse.
I am really this close (pinching fingers tight) to telling G about Santa being a historical person (with all the history) and now being more of a thought or idea to make surprises at Christmas special. But I do really like the idea of Santa in context and so G will not be earning her gifts. They will come and forget the elf on the shelf or coal in stockings; G will be given gifts because I love her, she is mine and I claim her. I want to show her what a gift is so that she will eventually see Christ's gift being only based on Him and His love for her. He has claimed her as His own and showers her with His gift of love and life.