Friday, December 7, 2012

the trouble with santa

This is the first Christmas that I think Everett is starting to piece together Christmas. Right now, it's just a word to him. He sees trees and yells Christmas! and has seen Santa Clause in Christmas parades; however, when I ask him what Christmas is he doesn't have a response. He's a blank slate, a little mind that is trying to figure it out. This Christmas I'm trying to figure it out too. Trying to wrestle with what I will tell my kids and how I will make the birth of Jesus bigger than the lure of Santa. Parenting is full of hard decisions and this is one of them.

I've read two articles recently that have challenged me. Both are bucking the trend of Santa. In fact, removing the jolly fellow altogether. It gives me mixed emotions. You see, I love Christmas. I love the songs and the decorations and the traditions. I love the gift giving and getting. I love the movies and sentiment. I love it all and so it's hard and a gut check for me. Am I celebrating what our culture made Christmas into more than I'm celebrating my Savior's birth? A quote from this blog really resonated with me. It was from a non-believer who stated some hard truths to swallow:

"I always thought it was strange how Christians will tell me they have this giant and awesome truth they know is true deep in their soul and want to share with me, but when 12/25 comes around they lie to their own progeny because, apparently, that giant, liberating, and awesomely simple truth is somehow just not enough. It may be a good narrative, but it needs a little something to give it some panache." *

* (taken from "the christmas conundrum" - read it if you have time)
** (this is the other article I read by Ann Voskamp)

Ouch. That's a real question for me--- is the simple truth and joy of Jesus big enough? I've never thought of it like that or how the way that I'm celebrating could translate into that. What has Christmas become really? A holiday filled with consumerism and self and I'm as guilty as everyone else. I don't want that to be the lesson that I'm teaching my kids. I don't want my kids to think Christmas is all about the gifts that they're getting. I want them to know that it's about the free gift that is already been given in the form of God come to earth. I want them to enjoy the traditions and the fun stuff, but most of all I want them to know that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. I want them to know that Santa and gift giving and carols are all just representative of a greater story and purpose.

For me, I'm praying and searching for a balance. A balance where we can still have traditions and sing songs and celebrate the season, but one in which Jesus reigns supreme. Like anything in parenting, it's hard and I'm learning some ugly truths about myself. Parenting is funny like that. A reminder that no matter age, that I need Jesus grace daily and that I don't have things all figured out. What I do know is that being a parent has challenged every part of me to pursue Jesus better. I'm going to try to do that this advent season and hope my kids see Jesus through it.


Katie @ Loves of Life said...

This has been a huge struggle this year for us as well--because all the sudden, without us even talking about it, Em talks about Santa. He's "EVERYWHERE" and it can't be avoided. So we have been asking around, getting a feel on how other families we respect and admire handle it. I think we've decided there will be a balance, but Jesus reigns. Everyday she gets up and asks if it's "Jesus' birthday TODAY!?". I love the book "What is Christmas" for this reason and we read it daily. I'd love to get into more detail with you about this ;) (I'm sure we will)--anyway, in the same place, my friend. xo

Renae said...

We've been having this discussion as well. It's so hard to find the balance! I know people who have completely ignored the Santa factor, only to have super confused kids because, let's face it, he's everywhere. I think we're going to try and keep the focus on Christ, but also enjoy some of the 'things' that go along with Christmas, like the tree, and cookies and Santa. Good luck!!!

Lyryn said...

I don't read blogs much anymore, but you put this on Instagram so I wanted to read it! Let me just say... You wrote this beautifully. I think most Christian parents struggle with decision. And what I really loved about this post even more is that you came at it in such a non-judgmental way.

You allowed us see a humble, real and vulnerable Christian mommy struggling, learning and processing through what some may considered to be one of the most controversial debates amongst Christians during this time of year. You certainly hit the nail on the head when you wrote "He's a blank slate, a little mind that is trying to figure it out." My 5 year old is still trying to figure it out. I've been where you are, sister and I feel the conflict in your heart.

For us - After weighing the pros and cons of both, we chose to allow Santa to be part of our Christmas traditions. It came down to the fact that Jesse and I both grew up having Santa and we didn't come out that screwed up ;)

We felt that as long as we were consistent through the year in teaching and telling our children the good news of Jesus and showing them that Jesus reigns in this house always, they would eventually grow out of this little wonder we all call Santa (like mommy and daddy did) and realize that, yes. Jesus is the best gift in the world. You see, Santa goes away. Jesus does not!!!

I also believe that sometimes kids might not always understand the meaning or concept of "Jesus is the gift". For Jayden he couldn't grasp what Jesus gave. Ya know? I would tell him daily - Jesus died that we could live forever! Still nothing. But this year he told me Santa gives us gifts just like Jesus died for us! Oh my word... I think he might have gotten it!!! And for us Santa let him see than analogy.

I hope that all made sense. That's how thought provoking your post was! I could have written my own post! So sorry.

Anyway, I truly believe that each of us have our own convictions. You know your children better than anyone else and you know their little hearts. Parenting is a learning process and girl friend? You are rocking! Do what you feel god is calling your family to do. Pray about what you want your Christmas' to look like. God knows your hearts and your true intentions! You’re doing a pretty amazing job ;)