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Catholic Activity: Giving of Presents

A difficult balancing act for Catholic parents is the question of Santa Claus or not in giving presents at Christmas. Here are some points to consider when making the decision.


The custom of giving presents on Christmas, or on Epiphany as with the Italians, has a religious significance which is often overlooked. The gifts which are given represent the gifts of the three Wise Men to the Christ Child. The giving of gifts should also help us to remember that for the love of the Infant Jesus, we should love one another. Some parents have their children give Christmas gifts to the Christ Child in the form of little sacrifices and acts of love. Why Our Lord is usually left out of the present exchanging is a mystery. He has given us all and we should make some return. It's His birthday.

Therese Mueller has this to say about the giving of gifts:

As far as Christmas gifts are concerned, let us emphasize their true meaning, now so generally forgotten: overpowered by God's generosity in giving His only-begotten Son as the Redeemer of mankind, Christians feel urged to imitate in a limited manner God's great love and liberality by spreading happiness among relatives and friends through gifts. Only if our gifts — small though they be — are borne along on a wave of true charity will they be worthy to lie beside the crib, which represents the real Gift, the Gift of all gifts, without which we should still be sitting in darkness and in the slavery of Sin.
In a footnote on the same page she adds,
Thus we can easily get rid of the 'white lies' about 'Santa' or the Angels entering the home at night with the presents. It is the Christ Child who presents our family with the abundance of grace and happiness and peace, it is His love that urges us to find means to represent in visible and tangible form His great gift of Himself to us, so that we may to some extent understand the great mystery of the Incarnation. Certainly, let us do all in our power to surround this entire season with the mystery proper to Christmastide, but let us abstain from telling our children so-called pious lies. Too often they undermine the children's confidence in the words of their parents and they can never do justice to the great mystery to which we are trying to introduce them (Family Life in Christ, pp. 17-18).

Activity Source: How to Make Your House a Home by Rev. Bernard Stokes, O.F.M., Family Life Bureau, Washington D.C., 1955

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