Saturday, November 11, 2006

Concerning Christmas

Since Angella starting posting her Christmas Countdown, I have decided it's not too early to talk about Christmas. I have been thinking a lot about Christmas this year as we're going to be doing it a bit differently. For the first time there will be lots of family around. Usually it's just us and maybe our immediate families if that can be arranged. But this year we'll be near my Grandparents and our Aunts and Uncles and all that jazz. We are also involved in a Church family this year, which means the usual Church Christmas stuff but also get togethers with the people we've grown close to.
Another difference is that we've decided to completely skip the gift part. Usually we scrape some money together, totally stressing the whole time, and stuff each other's stockings. Now last year we had Belle and the temptation to get your kids the "perfect" gift was way too much and in an effort to find the "perfect" gift we spent too much. I can hardly imagine what it would be like trying to find two "perfect" gifts. There are so many people who have poured so much love on us and showered the girls with so many gifts that there is also the temptation to give back to everyone and their dog. So we decided to just skip it. Now if you were thinking of giving me a gift, I can honestly say that the greatest gift would be some time with us doing something other than watching tv or just hanging in the living room, (something to take pictures of), or if you live far away the best gift in the world is an updated family picture to put on our wall! And I will definitely be returning those gifts.
There are a lot of differences in who me and Nick are too this year I think. We're growing and re-setting our priorities and time has actually become a commodity at our house. So Christmas will be quite different. I like the differences. I like that the affect it's having on me is focusing on Christ and my little family and the parts of Christmas I want to be remembered and the traditions that are truly important.
Which leads me to the actual point of my post today. (Man am I getting long winded or what!). I was part of a conversation in September about Christmas that still has me thinking.
One of the ladies said that they leave Santa out of Christmas at their house. Now the crowd was all Christian ladies and this was the first time I met this gal. I didn't know if I was setting up for a lecture on materialism or what, but I was ready to listen. She explained that they decided to skip all the "fakes" of the holidays. Like Santa and the Easter Bunny and even the Tooth Fairy. And she had a very compelling reason for doing so.
Consider for a moment about Santa, The Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. We tell our kids about them and create traditions around them, but they aren't real. Inevitably at some point our children will come to the realization that these characters don't exist, they're just enjoyable folklore.
Then consider that at the same time you're telling your children about Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy you are also telling them about Jesus. Jesus in person they will never see. Inevitably at some point in their lives someone will tell them Jesus isn't real.
If you let them let go of their belief in Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, how can you expect them to hold onto their belief of Jesus? Easy enough to shrug off. I mean Jesus isn't a silly character that brings us treats on a particular occasion. But you have to conceive that it's not that big a jump either.
I do know that I plan on going to the Santa Claus parade on Sunday and when my kids are old enough I'll have them write letters to him, and I will continue to go through the hassle that is getting pictures with Santa in the local mall. I will wait for my kids to come to the tearful conclusion that he doesn't exist and then challenge them to embrace instead the ideal of what Santa represents.
And I am challenged to make sure that Santa isn't bigger than Christ during our Christmas celebration and that while I talk about Santa for a season I never stop talking about Christ. I'll do my best to make Santa an acquaintance and Jesus a friend. But, I'm not exactly sure what that looks like in action, specifically during the Christmas season.
How do you practically make Jesus the reason for your holiday season?


motherinlaw said...

Our boys started the tradition in our family of having a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas Eve. It is His Birthday, isn't it??

Thay also started not putting the baby Jesus in the nativity until Christmas Eve. They took turns. I really had to keep track of that one.
I don't know if they realised but there is hardly anything on the tree that does not have to do with the first Christmas and God's creation. I also chose to use very traditional colours but they mean something to me. Red for Jesus' blood. Gold for His royalty. The green tree for Spiritual life. White for Purity.
I think there is only one picture of them with Santa. Some of our best Christmas memories are when we had very little in worldly goods.
By the way MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!

Elizabeth said...

That is definitely going to take some thought. I like the idea of leaving Santa out, actually. My hubby comes from a Dutch family where they open their gifts the night before so there wasn't ever a Santa in their house. We did have Santa. One gift and a stocking. I haven't yet thought about what we will do. I guess we'd better start.

Angella said...

We don't do Santa, but my parents did. And my mom sends gifts to the kids from "Santa" I don't stress about it, because we talk about, and TO, JESUS every day...not to Santa :)

Robyn said...

Interesting thoughts. I guess I'm like Angella in that we talk about, and to, Jesus every day so I'm not worried about our kids thinking that He is just a lovely fairytale (they love Colin Buchanen's song about that too). I didn't have Santa or the Easter Bunny growing up, although I think Paul did, so its not a big emphasis for us. Bec wanted a photo with Santa last year so we did that but we keep the emphasis on Jesus.
The present giving is a challenge for me. I LOVE spending time thinking about the person and what they'd like, the challenge of finding that thing...but we just don't have the budget to do it. So I'm working on toning things down. Giving things that still show our love and appreciation but that aren't a cause of stress. It is HARD to do though

wandi said...

My kids growing up we did have a santa stocking but let the kids know that it was not about santa. We always read the Christmas story every year before opening presents. We always focused on Jesus, and not Santa.

T said...

Good post...good thoughts to ponder!

I usually need some time to process stuff like this before I decide how I feel, but one thing I will say is that Christmas and all the real 'excitement' surrounding it has come back so much since having a kid! Maybe it's just seeing things from a child's perspective again, idunno.

Robyn said...

I know this post is a few days old now but they were talking about "the world most useful gift catalogue" in our Church this morning and I thought you might be interested. GREAT alternative to adding to the commercialism of Christmas, imho anyway! I know this is an Australian site but I'm sure that there would be similar things in Canada.