Tuesday, December 6, 2011

putting santa in his place

do you ever find something that other people do incredibly bothersome and then cringe when you consider that you once did the exact same thing yourself?  the whole santa thing leaves me feeling this way.  let me explain...
i've worked with kids for...well...forever.  from babysitting in high school to volunteering at church to working summer camps to my jobs in school psychology and children's ministry...i've spent time with a lot of kids.  until a few years ago i spent every december with a goofy-faced grin asking kids questions like - are you ready for santa to come?  what are you asking santa for this year?  what did santa bring you?  {cringe cringe}

here's how this yearly routine changed - i had children of my own.

suddenly i started looking a little more closely at holidays and celebrations and what they were teaching my children.  it's amazing to me how instinctively i did not want to talk to my own two children about santa.  it was like overnight my view of santa changed from a jolly good guy to the joker who was stealing all of jesus' thunder.  i don't know why it had never bothered me before.

i'm going to push 'pause' on what could turn into a very passionate dissertation on why i'm choosing to intentionally avoid santa talk in exchange for Jesus talk during christmas.  the truth is - i've consulted a lot of different people about this and i still don't have the perfect plan for celebrating christmas as a christian in the middle of a santa-loving american culture.  for the time being our family has agreed to the following:
(1) not making a big deal about santa - but also not avoiding him like the plague
(2) referring to the true story of saint nicholas when questions do arise about the man in the red suit
(3) making a BIG deal about Jesus and the true story of christmas...allowing the real magic of christmas to speak for itself
(4) asking our kids what they want to give to others at christmas instead of what they want to get {i know, i know...this is much easier during the preschool years than it will be in the teenage years...but - hey - a girl can dream}
(5) limiting the gifts we give to our children to only three {symbolizing the three gifts brought to Jesus by the wise men...again - anything we can do to shift the focus}

last week i posted on our church blog and mentioned some resources for advent celebration.  in my own home, we have been using a lot of the ideas from one of those resources. – truth in the tinsel.  here’s what i have found -
if we talk about jesus and our anticipation of his ‘birthday’ every day with our children…
 {our daily christmas countdown activities}

if we provide ways for them to create reminders of the true meaning of christmas (i.e. ornaments)…
{a couple of our homemade ornaments representing parts of the christmas story}
if we sing songs and light candles and tell stories about this GREATEST of stories…
{our advent candles}

they     get     it
even at 2 and 3 years old my children can tell you with big grins on their faces that christmas is all about jesus.  and they are giddy with excitement over our daily preparations…what more could i ask for?
so, for now, here's what i'm focusing on this advent…
#1 – be intentional, but...
#2 – keep it simple
and most of all…
#3 – have fun {after all…this is all about a celebration!}

would love to hear your ideas about keeping the true meaning of christmas at the heart of your families...