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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Santa Clause is Coming to...my house!


I love Christmas. I love the smells, the weather, the beauty and the meaning. I love celebrating Jesus' birth - remembering that Heaven's child was sent for one reason - to set me free! I love singing songs about His birth and life, reading scriptures, celebrating Advent, etc. I also love going Christmas shopping with my mom on Black Friday (one of my favorite traditions as an adult, I am blessed to get to spend this time with her!). I love going to Christmas parades, watching Christmas movies and yes, Santa!

When I was a child, my parents were big on Christmas. They kept Jesus at the heartbeat of it all...we did advent as a family every year, we took family communion in remembrance of the sacrifice Christ's birth ultimately led to, we read the biblical Christmas Story every Christmas morning before we could open even one present and we spent more time at church preparing for Christmas plays, cantatas and special services than anywhere else!

My parents also made Christmas every child's fantasy! We made our lists to Santa, knowing and understanding that we would not get everything we asked for, but that it would be special no matter what. Every Christmas Eve, we saw Rudolph fly past our windows (my dad made a wooden Rudolph with a red light bulb nose) and we heard the reindeer paws up on our roof (my dad would throw boots attached to a rope). We believed in the wonder and merriment of Santa. My mom often read us a book about Santa Clause - it told a story of a man named Saint Nicholas who loved God and His children so much that he wanted to make sure that every child would have a gift to remember to celebrate Jesus. That was the Santa I knew. A kind, God-fearing man, who was spending His life making children smile.

One of my favorite Christmas memories growing up, was as a teenager. On Christmas Eve, we found out about a family in our community who was not going to have anything for Christmas - they did not know that we found out. They had 5 children, young children, and they were going to wake up Christmas morning to an empty tree and empty cupboards. We were having a small party with some friends and family, and so we all decided that we wanted to give up some of our gifts, and also go out and find as much as we could for this family. I think some people ended up at a liquor store, to buy some milk and bread. We raided our closets and rooms. We ended up with multiple gifts for every child, and even some gifts for the parents. We filled a couple of boxes with food and even a Turkey! We drove to their house around midnight and loaded everything onto their porch and left a sign that said "Merry Christmas, Love Jesus!". I love this experience, it was so cool to be a part of showing Christ's love to a family in need on Christmas Eve...but I also see where it has a lot to do with Santa. My parents raising us to believe in Santa taught us the importance of normal everyday people having a spirit of "giving".

Did I grow up indulged and commercialized because I believed in Santa as a child? I don't think so. Do I feel that my parents lied to me, or that I couldn't trust them? Quite the opposite. My parents let us be children, they let us love fantasy, and we learned a valid lesson of believing in things you cannot see. Make believe and fantasy are a vital part of children's development. There are many things that children love that are not real - can vegetables really sing & dance? Does their bed actually turn into a rocket ship at night? No. But their belief as young children that those exist, makes them the unique, creative, out-of-the-box thinkers that we want them to grow up to be. At some point, we all figure that Santa, and other fantasy ideals, are not real. But for a brief blip of time, I got to believe in a world of pure imagination.

So now, I am a mother and I have come to a new and wonderful joy of experiencing Christmas through the eyes of my children. We try to keep the focus on Jesus, and keep the commercialism at a minimum. We haven't really done the whole "sitting on Santa's lap/pictures with Santa" thing, just because they are young and I don't want to force them to get a picture with a stranger. And I kind of think some of the wonder of Santa is keeping him at a distance. Never really seeing him up close, but believing that he exists anyway. I never sat down with Evelyn and told her about Santa. Obviously, Santa is everywhere during the Christmas season, and she has come to understand who he is and what he does. This year, is the first year that she will be learning about Saint Nicholas and that even the world of Santa is about Jesus' story and sharing His love. This year we started the tradition of Operation Christmas Child boxes, to help our kids remember that not every child has all the toys and luxuries that they do, and so we can help by picking out toys and gifts for other little boys and girls.

Our children believe in Santa, as well as many other fantasy and make-believe characters. And I am okay with that, because they also believe in Jesus. And we talk about Jesus everyday of the year. God is an integral part of our lives, and so their belief in Santa and living in his wonderful world for 2 months a year, is and will always be secondary to their faith in God. Their gifts under the tree on Christmas morning will be from Santa, I don't need recognition or credit for those gifts...after all, isn't it about a spirit of giving? Soon enough they will be faced with the harsh reality of the world we live in, but for this rapidly passing period of their life, I choose to let them believe.



4 comments:

  1. Still love this. Shared with my friends who were struggling with the Santa dilemma. Thanks again!!

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  2. Wow, I could have written that same post. I believed in Santa until I was 13 because my mom made Christmas such a magical time. I never felt lied to, I felt blessed and amazed that they did so much to help me enjoy my childhood. I have an older one she is 10 and still believes with all her heart. We keep Jesus at the heart but still enjoy Santa his reindeer and the magic of giving! Great Post!

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    Replies
    1. What a wonderful mom you have, and how awesome that your daughter still believes! Thanks for commenting! Merry Christmas :)

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