Legends and tall tales are instilled in the minds of most children from birth. Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny are fictitious characters that are very real in the minds of our children.
I’m 56 years old but I can still remember the devastating pain and sadness I felt when the Tooth Faith “forgot” to exchange money for a tooth I left under my pillow as a child.
You can find a mall Santa in every mall across America during the Christmas season. But wouldn’t it be great to have a mall Jesus that our kids could take pictures with instead of Santa?
I remember the gut-wrenching sobs and my inability to tell my mother the reason for such and outpouring of emotion over breakfast as I painfully discovered that the legend I had placed my faith in was a lie.
There is nothing wrong with childhood myths and legends per se. However, potential problems can arise when we as parents fail to make a distinction between fictitious characters from traditional legends and Jesus.
The Deception of Legends
Usually adults (mainly parents) go to great lengths to perpetuate the existence of childhood legends in the minds of children. As children grow older and mature, they eventually find out that Santa is really mom and dad. That the Tooth Fairy who secretly sneaks into their bedroom at night and places money under their pillow isn’t who they thought he was. And they come to the realization that Rabbits don’t lay eggs.
One has to wonder if after we find out these characters which some of us placed so much hope in are phony, affects how we view Jesus?
It takes faith for a child to believe in a myth, but also in the one who shares the myth. Care must be taken that as our children grow up and discover that these mythical characters aren’t real that Jesus isn’t lumped in with them.
Have we really instilled in our children that the unseen Jesus will never leave us or forsake us? Or have we subconsciously cultivated thoughts within our children that Jesus, just like all the others whom we placed our childhood trust in is just a legend?
I personally don’t ever remember telling my kids that there was a Santa when they were younger. Likewise, the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy never played a significant role in our home.
We still participated in Easter egg hunts and I left money under their pillows when they began to lose their teeth. I don’t think my downplaying the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy took anything away from their childhood fantasies.
Sadly, I think we as parents (and society in general) spend more time making legends more real in the minds of our children than sharing the reality of Jesus.
For instance, you can find a mall Santa in every mall across America during the Christmas season. But wouldn’t it be great to have a mall Jesus that our kids could take pictures with instead of Santa? I would even settle for a mall Jesus in addition to the traditional Santa.
Making Reality more Real than Legends
There is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying historical and family traditions that have been handed down and observed from generation to generation. But in all the enjoyment that comes with traditions, I encourage you to make Jesus more real than mythical characters and traditions in your household.
The reality of fictitious characters will fade away, but the image that we instill in the hearts and minds of our children about Jesus will remain forever.
Make strides to live a life that exemplifies the ways of Christ in front of your children. Taking steps to show the reality of Christ to your children will assure that they know that Jesus is the reason for all seasons.