Friday, November 19, 2010

Making Peace with Santa Claus

Christmas was my all-time favorite holiday as a child and young adult. Sadly, that all changed the moment I had children. After four years spent wrestling with the concept of Christmas in our commercialized society, only now am I beginning to make peace with how my family will celebrate the holiday.

My husband and I grew up in two very different worlds. Mine was filled with Santa Claus, Christmas Eve gift-giving parties with family, and a huge Christmas Day dinner. My husband's was a Santa-Claus-free world with little emphasis on gifts and little celebration of the day itself.

As you can imagine, with Wyatt's birth came a load of emotionally-charged decisions where Christmas was concerned. And then came the guilt. Each time I said the word "Santa," it stuck hard in my throat because I knew many Christians refused to allow Santa a part in Christ's birthday. I respected their decisions and wondered if I were doing right by my son.

Only in the last month have I finally made peace with Santa Claus and his role in my family's Christmas.

I'm teaching my children that Santa is the man who fills their stockings (and only their stockings) with gifts in celebration of Jesus' birthday because Jesus was God's best gift to us. Wyatt, especially, is intrigued by the idea of gifts. And yet, at 4-years-old, it seems like he's learning what I've been trying to teach--that Christmas is about giving. Last week, we practiced his writing skills by writing a letter to Santa. Wyatt told me what he wanted, I would write it on a dry erase board, and then he'd copy the letters on his rather large post card. What caught me totally off guard was how his list progressed.

First, he wanted a teddy bear for Amelia and Emerson, then a fishing rod for me and his daddy. Once his family was taken care of, he asked for our three cats: a tree scratcher for Jonah, a rug for Mia and Tabby, and a toy mouse for Kira. Only then did he ask for himself--a bouncy ball, soft sheets (a complaint about current bed sheets), books, and a mama duck.The twins aren't up to speed on Santa yet. They're too busy playing with the nativity scene placed on a table low enough for small hands to rearrange dozens of times a day. Baby Jesus is most always out of his stable...and is always encircled by shepherds and wise men who have come to worship Him. Amazing how even a two-year-old knows that everyone, even the donkey, must look to Jesus.While I know this is a decision each family must prayerfully make, I finally feel at peace. I finally feel free to celebrate. Since I'm about to enter the end-of-the-semester-crazy-paper-grading time of year, this past week, my children and I pulled out boxes of Christmas decorations, some that I haven't used since the second year of my marriage.It's been exciting to see Christmas through their eyes--to be able to tell the Christmas story almost daily. To explain how the twinkling white lights remind us of the star that led the wise men to Jesus. To show them the red and green plaid ribbon and sparkling white butterflies from mommy and daddy's wedding right before Christmas almost ten years ago. To show them the sequined nativity on the Christmas tree skirt that Grandmama and mommy made together oh so many years ago.In a few weeks, I'm looking forward to sitting down with them and a catalog we receive that provides goats, deep wells, mosquito netting and other life-sustaining, life-protecting items while sharing the gospel of Jesus. Instead of gifts to each other, Wyatt, Amelia, and Emerson will start another family tradition--giving the gift of life to another child in another part of the world.

This is the first Christmas in such a very long time that actually feels like a celebration of freedom, of life, of joy...of Jesus.

1 comment:

  1. I can relate to this. Although I've struggled with going from not incorporating Santa to joining in and learning how to embrace him, I've struggled indeed. From the earlier years of Cammie's and Courtney's first Christmases to maintaining balance today while incorporating Santa, I try to remember an all important chapter of the Bible the Lord spoke to me many years ago. Romans 14
    Before, struggling with to put up a tree or not in the midst of loved ones who don't and now as I learn to embrace Santa, I will not only remember the Words of Scripture the Lord spoke to me so many years ago regarding these traditions, but I'll remember your words as well.
    It helps tremendously when you share your stories with us.