The Jolly Fat Guy In The Red Suit And Apologizing To My Daughters
It’s hard to apologize to your kids, sometimes (which, is probably the point I guess)…
But, apologizing because you lied to them and then unwrapping the long tendrils of lies from the branches of truth? –That’s a whole different level of hard.
For the past few years, we’ve teetered back and forth, trying to find some happy medium between making Jesus the REASON for our celebrating and some of our favorite traditions (some Old, some New). –Including Santa and little mischief-making elves. We weren’t ready to “kill Santa” (as that seemed a little harsh) and we were convinced that Jesus and Santa could live together in perfect harmony in our home. I mean, they both seem pretty likeable, right? Jesus could make wine and maybe Santa could not eat all of the cookies… I don’t know, it seemed like it could work for us. Instead, we came up with what looked a lot like Jesus-Claus. It was on accident, of course, but what do you expect when you tell a little kid that the reason for Christmas IS NOT Santa?
This was their reply: “Yeh, okay. Right. So, Santa is still bringing me gifts right?”
And then we realized… In a 3-and-5-year old’s brain, a little baby can’t compete with a jolly fat guy in a red suit who magically flies around in a sleigh led by reindeer, comes down chimneys, and leaves gifts under children’s trees as they sleep once a year.
“Convicted” would be a great word for how we felt.
Jen Hatmaker said, “My friend Andrew, who identifies himself as a member of the “non-believer corner” put it this way:
‘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.’”
And, I feel it to the bottom of my soul – this trade-off of a true Savior who rescued ME for the pretend magic of flying reindeer and a Santa that doesn’t even exist. It’s like satan came up with this way to get us off track in this seemingly harmless way and he’s tricked Christians into handing over our finances to help fund the whole thing. We can’t even turn on the television without seeing commercials, telling us about all the things that we just NEED and can’t live without — while across the world (and even in our own hometowns) their are people who REALLY NEED. And it just doesn’t settle well with me. I think about how hard Steven and I have worked to remove any false idols from our lives…how we STILL how to work hard at it, how it still threatens to suck us in. Bigger homes, more money, projects…anything…ANYTHING (even if it was a good thing) that takes our focus off of Christ and onto something else. And yet… we’ve been handing this one idol down to our children. I mean, we dressed him in red and made him real pretty, but oh. my. soul. We just wanted our kids to have magic and memories and somehow, we traded everything that matters for a mirage that’s not even real.
Please hear me now… this is important. I’M NOT JUDGING YOU. I am NOT the Christmas police. I don’t care if you celebrate Santa or flying reindeer. You don’t have to fret over me coming over and seeing your twelve hundred piece Santa collection. I don’t even care if you leave cookies out, climb on top of the roof to stomp around a little and jingle bells right before sliding back into the yard to stomp reindeer footprints and sprinkle pretend reindeer poop in the yard. That’s your journey. And ours…has been slow…and is still a journey. We’re still learning, growing.
This part is important, too… It’s not JUST about booting Santa for us. It’s about TRULY celebrating Jesus and all He means to us. It’s not about whether He was actually born in December – but, this is the month we choose to celebrate in a BIG way. We want to learn how to tell the nativity story in a way that captures the REAL magic of a baby sent to save the world. We want them to know the excitement in the depths of our souls. It’s not just about “taking something out” but it’s about filling it with real magic and hope!
- We’ve told our children the story of St. Nickolaus and about how he loved God so much he helped children in need, but also hid because he wanted them to give God thanks and not him. We’ve also told them that St. Nick is where the tradition of Santa Claus came from (partly, anyhow. As they get older, we can explain that Santa was part St. Nick, part pagan god, and 80 percent Big Marketing). We told them that part of life came death and now St. Nick is really with Jesus in heaven, just like Gramps. And, that people dress up and pretend they are Santa kind of like they like to dress up like princesses, play baby dolls, etc. Because it’s fun, and because people want to give. And, that pretending some was okay as long as they knew Jesus was why we celebrate.
- We are telling and retelling the wonderful story of Jesus being born. But, we’re finding fun new ways to do it…
- We are anticipating Jesus’ Birthday Party and talking about what kind of gifts we want to give Him. We have talked about the types of gifts Jesus wants… US. And that He also likes it when we love others like He loves us. We talk specifically on ways we can do that. This year, we are doing acts of kindness and the girls are helping choose what we do. We’re also going to make gifts and goodies and leave on neighbors’ porches with a little poem about the Nativity.
- We are learning a special birthday song for Jesus.
- We have this GREAT little Advent book for the girls, it’s short and has great crafts for their age and it’s just so good! They love it! It focuses on Jesus and not candy and not ‘what’s in it for them” type stuff.
- Their Mimi gave them a little advent calendar that has a photo of the nativity on it and you peel back the little boxes for each day and it slowly gives scripture to tell the story of Jesus’ birth. They LOVE it!
- We’re slowing down on materialism. We are filtering pretty heavily any movies that focus on getting piles of gifts under the tree and part of the perks of not having television (we watch movies via computer and ipad and projector), no commercials telling my children they need the latest crap!! And, we’ve adopted the 5-gift rule: Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read. They’ve only been told to pick out ONE gift they’d like from mom and dad and the rest will be a surprise. There are a couple of stocking type gifts too. Oh, and something we saw at Walmart and hubby couldn’t resist. Other than that, we’ve asked family to only give money or experiences. The girls REALLY want to go to Disney. And truth be told, they keep asking if we can throw out most of the toys they do have… there are too many even for them and they get so overwhelmed. (We will be purging many but we WON’T be restocking after Christmas).
- We are filling our home with Jesus-centered music.
- We are spending quality time with each other. Quiet, stress-free, wonderful quality time. We are just loving on each other.
This is for us.
You might not be where we are right now, and I’m okay with that. I won’t be arriving at your house with the Christmas police to cite you. Because as I said, this life is a journey, and we’re still on ours…