Ugh. The season is upon us. The crazy, busy, relentless time of year when we have so many thing pulling us in many different directions and the most important, significant things--like, say the birth of Christ--is kept in the background.
I am all about keeping Christmas simple, however, the world around us makes it very difficult. And, unless you want to make your kids feel like they have been raised under a rock, I feel, we, to a certain degree, must choose to participate in the whirlwind ride that we now know as Christmas. I am mainly talking about the expectations like, gifts for people, going to open houses, Christmas parties galore and eating lots of food that is just not that good for us.
You know, I would really love to write some meaningful, significant prose about the true meaning of Christmas. The reason will celebrate. I would hope that by writing about it, it would turn our hearts back to Christ and the simplicity of the season. But the thing is there are lots of books out there that tell you to do that. You can read scripture and be reminded of the humble beginnings of our Lord and Savior. The reason for the season.
But for me, I realize that unless I have a heart change about the season, it's really not going to make anything different. It's not going to make the Christmas carol we sing in church become any more alive. Where is the awe and the wonder? The magic and hope?
In that same respect, taking all commercial aspects of Christmas out of my house will not make me worship the Savior any more than keeping them in will. It still has to do with the heart.
This leads me to something I have wanted to write about for a while. Hopefully, no one will take offense. I am not saying one view point is right and one is wrong (because it is a personal decision). I can't quote scripture or tell you how you should celebrate Christmas in your home. There are arguments on both sides of the issue.
However, that being said, I really don't understand why Santa gets such a bad rap? Taking Santa, or any other commercial aspect of this season, out of the picture is not really going to change my heart. I can be just as in love with Jesus and tell my boys about Santa and go take them to get their picture made with him every year (which I do). I don't worry that by telling them about Santa they are just going to remember me lying to them....and if I lie to them about this fable, then, what's keeping me from lying about something else? Like God's love.
Please. Let me tell you, I grew up in one of the most legalistic church environments ever. I mean, I had no idea that God's grace was sufficient, but I did know that if I sinned he was keeping track of those and holding them against me (which is not true, but it was my perception). And lots of things counted as sin, or "worldly", such as wearing pants, listening to secular music....even listening to certain CHRISTIAN music was taught against. So, I know a thing or two about legalism.
I don't remember what our church taught about Santa growing up? If there was an opinion given, I have no idea now what it was. I did have friends whose parents rejected any commercial aspect of Christmas and refused to celebrate it, including having a tree and if you had to get them a gift, please get them underwear. Heaven forbid you actually have fun thinking about your family and get something meaningful. That was just too "worldly". We were fundamentalists, we had standards to uphold. LOL!
In my house, we believed in Santa. I can remember our first Christmas in Tennessee, maybe the second. Family was visiting from Florida and my cousin and I were looking out the window on Christmas Eve looking for Santa and his reindeer. I remember the presents from Santa and baking the cookies and seeing if the cookies were gone Christmas morning. I remember the excitement. The wonder. The memories.
However, Santa always had his place and he was never the center of attention, Jesus was. We talked more about Jesus birth and the reason for the season than we ever did about Santa. Santa was part of the celebration, but he wasn't the main event. Jesus was. And that's all I want to be able to do for my children. I don't feel like I need to take Santa out of the picture to draw them closer to Jesus.
I have an almost five year old that is full of questions. Believe me, he wants to know why we celebrate Christmas. And we tell him. We tell him the true meaning. We share with him the Christmas story. We bake a cake for Jesus the week of Christmas. He knows the songs about Jesus in a manger and why Jesus came, which was because of His great love for US. So, I get excited when Carter talks about Jesus. Jesus is the primary focus of the season in our house. But until Carter asks Jesus into his heart, he is not going to get the true meaning of Christmas, of Christ's birth. And more importantly, why He came as He did, to be the ultimate sacrifice for our sins and to do what no other self-proclaimed savior has done....rise from the dead.
But I have to say that as we were decorating the Christmas tree the other day and night had fallen and Carter looked out the window and said, " I wonder if we can see Santa up in the sky" my heart melted. The excitement. The wonder. The belief in Santa. I loved it. It didn't break my heart because we had already been talking about Jesus. Those seeds have been planted and my prayer is that when the time is right, Carter will come to know Christ, preferably at a young age.
I don't remember when I stopped believing in Santa. It obviously wasn't that traumatic. I have never felt lied to or deceived by my parents for telling me about this fairy tale. It was fun. It had it's place. And it is magical.
I never, ever tell Carter that he better be good because Santa is watching. I don't ever use getting Christmas presents as a way to control my son's behavior. In fact, I cringe when parents do that. That is one aspect I don't agree with. Good behavior should be expected regardless of the season and it should be learned, not used as a bribe. I want my kid to learn self-control from the heart, not because Santa won't bring him any presents if he misbehaves.
The thing is, I respect my friends or people I know who choose not to make Santa part of their kids lives. I mean, who am I to tell you that you are overreacting? There is no right or wrong answer here. I guess the most important thing to remember in all of it is the HEART. Because no matter how holy you think you are making Christmas, if you just take away things and don't focus on the heart, then all you are doing is making a statement for the purpose of being different. And being different doesn't make you holy. Having a relationship with Jesus Christ makes you holy.
So, that's my feeling about Santa. I think he has his place. He is not the centerpiece. Having Santa in the celebration of Christmas doesn't make me any closer to the Lord, just as leaving him out doesn't bring me any closer to the Lord. The heart is the matter.