“Santa” was a real historical figure who bestowed gifts to the poor in the name of Christ. Sadly, American consumerism and human secularism have snuffed out most recollection of history. Parents now want to give children gifts from a mythical figure who sneaks into the home and leaves lavish gifts. I know of individuals who take on second jobs just to leave their kids gifts from Santa!
While I don’t bemoan parents who choose to adopt a mythical approach of Santa into their Christmas traditions, Frank and I have chosen not to raise our daughters with this myth. Instead, we share the history with our girls, emphasizing that generosity should be done with humility, self-sacrifice, and preferably, in the name of Christ. We have received judgement from friends and family who think we are stealing the magic of Christmas and imagination from our kids.
Imagination isn’t something we should only foster at Christmas and it certainly shouldn’t be based on greed! (“What do you want for Christmas? Have you been a good child?” As if desire and deeds only warrant gifts. These are not the moral values Frank and I want to pass onto our children.) I hear too many Christian children talking about what they are getting for Christmas rather than Christ’s birth or what they are going to GIVE this season.
Speaking of magic, what is more awe-inspiring than a God who became man, Emmanuel? This same God-man reconciled humanity to himself by dying on a cross. Then victory over death was gained when this divine human rose from the dead three days later! This was miraculous! Perhaps if we found awe and admiration in truth rather than a temporary figure who grants wishes based on performance, we’d experience more joy this season (and frankly, in every season)!
[On a slightly controversial subject, especially with Christian circles, I will likely also teach my girls about magic through stories like Lord of the Rings, Narnia, and the most “heretical” Harry Potter! I am a huge Harry Potter fan. I don’t recite the incantations and I understand this is complete fiction. Yes, there are real principalities and evil spirits associated with paganism and devil worship. I do not believe this piece of fictional literature, if taken properly, is true evil.]
Anyways, I digressed a bit with the controversy.
Some other things I find curious about this time of year:
-Most of the time, people have a problem with their children sitting on a stranger’s lap…especially their little girl sitting on the lap of an elderly male. At Christmas time though, we seem to promote this behavior! (I am always hesitant letting my children do this. I don’t know who this man is, what his background is (do Santa impersonators have to have background checks), or what fantasies he may have (even if he hasn’t publicly been persecuted for acting on fantasies). Santa was at an event I recently attended with my children. Willow was excited to go sit on Santa’s lap, get a gift, and show him her decorated cookie (not a euphemism, but an actual cookie). As such, I let her go up with her sister. It provided a picture perfect moment between my daughters.
Like I said, Picture Perfect Moment!!!
-We tell our children not too be greedy and keep asking us for toys. At Christmas though, we ask them to make a list of their top ticket items. Rather than giving these away to children who don’t have anything and might enjoy it, we promote and perpetuate our children’s greed. Then we chastise their constant desire later. Also, we experience buyer’s remorse because children generally play with the toy for a couple of days before it collects dust sitting unwanted in a dark recess of the house.
-We try to get our kids to eat fruit and veggies throughout the year while minimizing sugar consumption. At Christmas time though, we indulge. Not only do we pack on the holiday pounds, we are willing to decorate cookies every night of December with our kids. (Yes, I am guilty of wanting to do this too, so please understand this entire post is really just my musings, contemplation, and curiosity, not judgement.)
-We try to budget carefully, but at Christmas we overspend and experience a drought in January.
-We are completely against breaking and entering. Some friends even lock their doors when they are home! However, Santa is granted permission to break into our homes if he is going to leave us gifts? Is this not greed or at least hypocritical? I am so confused by this principle.
I say this because I understand why our kids are conflicted and confused. Are we not sending mixed messages? How do we foster the behaviors we want to see when we are willing to forsake our own convictions, ideals, and/or safety measures for an entire season?
I want to be less hypocritical during this time of year, especially now that I have little parrots who are watching my every move. (Practicing Santa as a true myth doesn’t have to be hypocritical, but it can be. I know that temptation would be too strong for me. Also, for some other reasons mentioned above, as a Christian I do not want to practice the myth side. I am willing to pretend with my kids if they understand it is fiction, but I don’t want them to think a real person sneaks into our house, eats our homemade cookies, and leaves lavish gifts only to later tell them it was really me or a close family friend.)
I want to be more generous, more merciful, more patient, and especially more still (that I might hear God’s whispers about where and to whom he is calling me and my family to minister).
How do you want to be changed this Christmas season? What are your personal thoughts on how we practice Christmas in this culture? What do you think about Santa?
(Do we Christians know the roots of tree decorating and the like stem from pagan rituals? Are we okay with that? If a tradition has morphed and isn’t remembered as being pagan, is it acceptable to engage in it? FYI, we do buy a tree and decorate it (we try to stick with ornaments with history or about Christ). Is it beneficial though, especially if I know the roots of such a practice? I wrestle with this. I’m still working it out.)
A note to my husband: No, lights are not part of the pagan ritual that I am aware of. Jesus is the light of the world. Lights on a home are not only peaceful, they can be used to instill relaxation and wonder. Plus, our daughters will enjoy the bright illumination at night. Watching our daughters amazement can help ignite my faith and restore my luster for this time of year. Sadly, with sickness and fatigue I haven’t felt the “Christmas spirit”. Perhaps stringing lights and watching our children’s delight will help rectify this problem. *In other words, this is not an excuse I will accept to refuse helping put up lights on the house. *wink, wink* I love you, even your anti-festive tendencies. I will win you over one day. *smirk* (Hey, at least I refrained from emoticons. I am trying to demonstrate true love to you.)