Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Skipping Santa (Part 2)

How on earth do we make it work?

Well, it's not easy, I can tell you that. Especially when we are battling well meaning teachers and child care workers who love to insist to our kids that Santa is real. And it's not just at school or daycare, I am somewhat surprised at the "Santa education" that goes on in church. Everything from coloring pages to Santa appearances at parties and asking the children what was on their Christmas list. In the grand scheme of things, those few activities may seem completely innocent, but when you are trying to lay a groundwork of faith and trust in a child, there is little room for out right lies just to encourage a little imagination.

And what about imagination? 
The biggest concern that is expressed to me regarding our choice to skip Santa is that my children will not be able to develop a healthy imagination. Let me assure you, they are not hindered in that at all. My children love to play dress up and pretend with their toys, and we've even had visits from two imaginary friends when my daughter was two (a rabbit and a baby grob (frog) haha) While we're talking about Santa, I may as well let you know that we skip the Easter Bunny too for the same reasons. We do however play around with the idea of the tooth fairy and have some fun with her, and I have been reading up on Mini Mocha's idea of a Christmas Mouse to spice up our Christmas tradition. I love having fun with my kids, but I really think that allowing them to play with a story I have just read (extend it, act it out, etc) is a better way to cultivate their imagination.

Well how do you avoid Santa?
Now this is a tough one. The most obvious way we avoid Santa is by not allowing our children to sit on his lap in the mall or at Christmas parties. I'm not completely blind. I've seen the way our kids look when they wish they could go sit on his lap, and it breaks my heart. But I also know that it has a lot to do with wanting to be like everyone else. Here's the thing though, we've got to be careful how much we encourage fitting in, and how much we encourage standing out. I don't want to be a contradiction; one day my kids will notice. Like most families, we display a nativity scene in our home, but I go one step further and do not put out traditional images of Santa. My one Santa indulgence is on mine and my husband's stockings. His is a Woodland Santa, like this, and mine is a White Christmas stocking like this. I feel like these two images give us a chance to tell our children about who Santa, the man, really was.

But Saint Nicholas WAS real!
A wonderful part of our family tradition is discussing who Saint Nicholas actually was. I like to refer to the Saint Nicholas Center  and other resources for the real story on this treasured part of human history. I choose a few age appropriate facts and tell my kids that he lived at one time and did many good things for adults and children. Some of that involved giving gifts. But the fact is, just like any other human, he lived and he died. Now to keep his memory alive, parents tell stories to their children about him and people like to pretend that he is real. Then I ask them why we celebrate Christmas and go into the story of Jesus' birth. I feel it is my responsibility to be careful not to attribute eternal life to any man other than Jesus. Teaching my children to believe in magic as anything other than an optical illusion or interesting diversion is a slippery slope as well. Here is a list of children's books that talk about who Santa actually was. I have not reviewed them all, so it would be wise for you to do so before you read one of them to your children.

Your kids are missing out on childhood memories!
Maybe one or two, but that really depends on what age they are when they discover that Santa is not real. Frankly, my only memories of Santa are making a couple of lists, opening a few presents, and finally when I found out the truth. He wasn't a BIG part of my childhood as I recall, and if he was, it happened before the youngest age I can remember. So I don't really see this as being a problem for my kids. Besides, we create many other lasting memories for our kids that are just as sweet. One more thing about this particular protest; would someone ask the same thing of a Jewish family or one who celebrates Kwanza instead? Few seem to be worried about them missing out on Santa... or Jesus for that matter.

But finding out the truth is a Rite of Passage!
Seriously? Now that's just cruel. I don't have much to say about this one because I am not terribly interested in watching my kids' childhood beliefs get crushed by some older kid or crazy uncle for sport.

What if your grandkids are taught to believe in him?
First off, that is far too many years away to be worried about it now. Secondly, my grand kids will not be my kids. I will share responsibility for their spiritual up bringing with my children, but in the end, their parents are the ones who get to make this decision the same way my parents have graciously allowed me to make this decision now. Finally, no, I will not be a grinch and dash their hopes and dreams about Santa. Instead, the focus when they come to my house will be right on Christ where it belongs. I promise you, I am not trying to single handedly kill Santa. I couldn't do it even if I wanted to. However, it's important to note that folks got on just fine celebrating Jesus' birth before Saint Nicholas came along.

In the end, the reality is we spend way too much time criticizing people for their choice in Christmas traditions. We are called to be fishers of men, not Santa's helpers. There are so many people who need God's comfort and we should be focusing on reaching them with love and compassion all year, not just at Christmas.

So there's my two cents, and for what it's worth, I hope it maybe got you to thinking about ways that you can shift the focus of Christmas away from Santa and presents and back onto Jesus who really is the reason for the season.


Here's what you missed!

Skipping Santa

Monday, December 3, 2012

Skipping Santa

6 Reasons why Santa Skips our House:

I realize going into this post that not everyone will agree with me. However, bear with me and know that I do not pass any type of judgement on folks who do allow Santa down their chimney. In fact, I rather enjoy all the Elf on the Shelf pictures that I see on Facebook. It's amazing how creative us moms can get when it comes to our kiddos! I was a kid once and I remember looking forward to Christmas and Santa Claus like many other children all over the world, my husband too. This list is not written from any traumatic childhood memories of the creepy mall Santa or when I found out that he was hiring my dad to do all the shopping... this comes from a conversation my husband and I had before our oldest daughter's first Christmas. I will say that it is certainly unconventional in our circle of friends, and we've drawn some funny looks from family, but hey, this works for us. And guys, remember this is an opinion piece, K? Thanks!!

                           Excuse Miq's messy face. I'm almost positive chocolate was involved...

6) A case of mistaken identity-

 The very first comment out of my husband's mouth when we discussed this was, "My hard earned money is not going toward gifts with some other guy's name on them." At the time, this seemed to be his number one definitive reason, but the more we talked about it, we realized there are other more important reasons to skip Santa...

 5) Be good or else-

Santa, along with his little Elf on the Shelf, are the ultimate bribe for good behavior. T2 and I would like to think that we are teaching our children about the importance of good behavior and how it builds character. Not to mention, that the absence of Santa teaches our kids a very important lesson about our belief in Christ. If good behavior won't get you into Heaven, try explaining that to a child who thinks good behavior will get him everything on his Christmas list and then some.

4) Thankfulness above all else-

My husband and I strive to teach our children that a thankful heart is a happy heart. I will be the first to admit that our kids have way too many toys. I intend to fix this problem this year before they add more to their collection. And it really is just that, a collection. I would venture to say that 75% of the toys they own have become curios from sitting in the bottom of their toy boxes. When this whole "kids in the nest" stage has ended, I'd like to have produced adults who are thankful for what they have and do not expect anything more based solely on what national holiday it is.

3) Following the Example-

 Christmas is all about giving right? Well, that depends on your point of view. If you are a child, 'getting' is likely what's on your mind when you write out your list and then go sit on Santa's knee. We've already discussed your motivation for good behavior... While it's true that the Christ child received gifts from the 3 Wise men, it's also true that their gifts foretold of coming events in the King's life. Their gifts to Him also model the way in which we are supposed to offer our hearts to the Lord. God gave us Jesus as a free gift, so removing gift giving from Christmas all together would be a tragic injustice to our children. There is no need however, to focus on jolly old Saint Nick as the ultimate gift giver. That title was reserved hundreds of years before he was even a twinkle in his mother's eye.

 2) Only slightly off the beaten path-

 We're all a little off- every single one of us. There are times in our lives when we decide to bust out with a solo when everyone else is drudging along singing the same old tune. Will Santa ever get too old to saddle up his reindeer? Probably not, but I could also ask the same thing about the Super Bowl and April Fool's Day... The reason these things live on is because of our traditions. New things pop up and we follow them for a little while, maybe try to incorporate them into the other activities (like Elf on the Shelf). We really can't be faulted for skipping Santa. He just doesn't work for us. Instead, we follow our family traditions and make really great memories while doing so. We do the normal Christmas movies, driving around looking at lights, and decorating the tree, but we also eat Chinese food on Christmas day rather than a huge dinner. In fact, we've decided that a big Christmas breakfast is more our speed followed by a restful day enjoying our family.

 1) Focus, people-

In the end, it all boils down to our focus. Every Christmas, I hear or see "Jesus is the reason for the season." I really love that because it is so catchy, but looking around, I begin to question if that's really the case. Everywhere I look, I see mass consumerism but at the same time, homeless people doing without. Parents who feel inadequate because they cannot provide their children with the same level of "love" the other kids in class receive. Some of us go into debt that will require many months of credit card payments. And for what?? A bunch of stuff that loses its novelty after a day or two. If we want to instill these radical ideas into our children's hearts,we're going to have to do it in a radical way. Instead of Santa, my family chooses to place our focus on the gift of our Savior and how we can help others do the same. In the end, we want to celebrate Christ, not Christmas.


Don't miss:

Skipping Santa (Part 2)