It’s almost December. The hustle and bustle is in overdrive. Everything smells of Fraser fir. Pinterest is a holy grail for moms everywhere. It’s that time of year where decorations, fashion and even radio music all have the same focus. I find this time of year magical. I always have. That span of calendar between Thanksgiving and Christmas is, in my opinion, the most wonderful time of year!
Now that I have children of my own, this time seems even more precious. I get to see Christmas through the eyes of a child. Two actually, an eighteen-month-old and a four-year-old. And now, those children are being raised up in our Christian home and it seems I am asked almost daily, “Do Y’all do Santa Claus?”
Here is my answer: Absolutely! And we don’t do anything halfway.
There are countless articles out there explaining how different families have chosen to go about handling what is apparently a huge holiday predicament. This blog is simply that, MY family’s choice and how we came to it. I have appreciated ALL the articles I’ve read. Like anyone, I agree and disagree with various points. I expect any readers to do the same of me. I just wanted people to know why we do our thing. It’s not a holiday predicament. It’s a tradition. Like eating turkey on Thanksgiving. It doesn’t kill you. It doesn’t make you any less spiritual. Has today’s culture made it consumeristic? Yes, but they’ve been doing that for decades. They do the same for birthdays and back-to-school.
Now, my family does our best balancing the reality of the TRUE meaning of Christmas with the magical aspect of Christmas. I have amazing conversations with my four-year-old when she sees our Christmas tree ornament with Santa kneeling before the manger. She asks why Santa is praying and I explain that he is thanking God for the greatest gift of all, Jesus. Santa is NOT a God. Santa, real or not, bows to Christ because Philippians 2:10 tells us we all will. She asks why Santa brings gifts. I explain that Santa was so thankful that God gave the gift of Jesus that his heart wanted to bring gifts to others. God set the example of a giving heart and we are to have a giving heart. All these lessons must be taught to our children, though.
Simply, Christmas is about giving – because God gave.
After Chris and I went through Hurricane Katrina, we experienced the body of Christ and how they give. We received gift cards, gifts, and it seems every time we shook someone’s hand they were slipping us cash. It was uncomfortable. We were vulnerable. I wasn’t sure how to receive help. I spent so much of my ministry giving that I’d abandoned the power of receiving. That time was a great reminder to me of the importance of receiving. God gave His Son and we are to receive Him.
There’s a balance. It is learned. It must be taught. We are to teach our children both: The importance and joy of giving and the humility and heart of thankfulness from gracious givers.
It is hard to compete with Santa if you are letting the culture dictate what is important to your family. My 18-month-old has NO idea that Santa brings gifts. She just knows that Santa is funny and we get excited when we see him. She gets just as excited about singing Jesus Loves Me or going outside to play.
“But Santa is make believe and it supports an unhealthy view of reality.”
Guess what? So does Doc McStuffins, Sophia the First, Transformers, Disney Princesses and every other thing your kids get excited about. Spoiler: Stuffed animals don’t really come to life and talk when adults aren’t present. Girls with magic necklaces can’t talk to animals. Heavens, our parents grew up watching Mr. Ed the Horse talking to Wilbur. It’s just my generation that panics about the psychology behind damaging our children due to skewed realities. What parent sits down with their child after every tv show, video game, movie or stuffed animal gift to explain “how this isn’t reality. It’s fantasy and I want you to know the difference.”
Bottom line, they are kids. They don’t get to be kids for long. They will quit believing in magic and make believe all too soon. They will struggle with identity, acceptance and body image for MUCH longer than if the Elf on the Shelf really traveled to the North Pole every night. Their struggles will be real, and hard, and painful. Reality will crush them and beat them and wound them and scar them. My children are learning of Noah, Moses, Adam & Eve. These are stories of truth and biblical history. But before that first heartbreak, I cherish the fairy tales too.
Don’t come at me with your “Santa pushes good works” fight either. Good. So do I. If you go in the potty when potty training, you get a piece of poo poo chocolate! When you push your sister down, you get in trouble. If you behave properly in Target, I’m probably gonna give you a Cafe Icee because I’m proud of you. Do you get treats for every good thing you do? Nope. I EXPECT good behavior, but sometimes I’m gracious in my treats and gifts. Sound familiar?
Guess what…scripture teaches us we are judged according to our works too. Now, salvation – THAT is free! But our actions and works while we live on this earth will bring both blessings and consequences (in this life and the next). Read the bible.
I believe I can be both gospel-centered AND have fun this season of my kids’ lives because that’s what it is – a season. This season will be gone in the blink of an eye. Sure, for 30 days I’m cheering on Santa, but I’m also doing everything I can to glorify God 365 days of the year. I take my kids trick-or-treating and when they lose a tooth I’ll put a dollar under their pillow (maybe I’ll even wear a tutu to get in character). They watch Disney and Power Rangers. They eat Cheetos and bread filled with gluten and they love to sing Jesus Loves the Little Children and Let It Go! They won’t find a scale in my home to weigh themselves and I’ll give them Tylenol or Thieves essential oil…whatever I can find if it makes them feel better. They get vaccinated but it’s usually at an appointment three months behind. They are hopefully balanced and won’t feel the legalism of pro or anti sides. I try not to stress myself. They are God’s and I am a steward of them. He controls their destiny. But while He entrusted them to me we are gonna bake Christmas cookies, feed Rudolph and read the Christmas Story for as long as they will let me.