Sunday, March 21, 2010

Why We Don't Major on Santa Claus During Christmas
But You're Not A Sinner If You Do.
(and how this pertains to Easter)

Every Christmas season we get the question, "how do you guys handle Santa Claus with your children?" Every year I want to write a blog about it but I never have. Mainly I haven't because I get tired of reading all the other blogs that seem to be extreme one way or the other, "You're sinning if Santa Claus is used in your Christmas tradition," or "Not using Santa Claus is robbing your children of imagination and fun during the holidays." I get frustrated and don't want to be among the ranks of either of these two extremes. So finally, this year I decided to wait and post a blog at a neutral season. One that would give people time to think, pray and discern what is right for their family WAY before the season is upon them.

Personally, We, as parents, decided not to major on Santa Claus during the Christmas season, but to Major on Jesus. While we major on Jesus, we still find it fit, since we live in a culture that does celebrate the story of Santa Claus, to teach the boys about Saint Nicholas and how and why people came to know him as Santa Claus, the man who flies a sled and gives out gifts. Now I realize that the original story behind Ol' St. Nick has been twisted into an over commercialized craze that drives millions of dollars towards over indulged consumerism, we still find the redemptive story behind the life of St. Nicholas and see beautifully how it can teach our children The Gospel, as they learn how to give and receive.

We, however, have SOO many friends and a majority of our family, who do celebrate Santa Claus by teaching them about a man in a red suit who sees them and knows if they are bad and good, etc. We, as a family, want to respect them by not blowing there traditions in to shambles by our child blurting out "Don't you know Santa is not real." So we choose to teach them who Santa REALLY was. This way if someone asks them about Santa, in their mind they think a real man, a real story. Now that Titus is older, we joke around and play with his imagination by reading the Christmas stories of Santa Clause, and pretend to hear reindeer on the roof. This is all in good fun, a magical kid like fun, that he knows and can distinguish.

In no way do we or will we look DOWN on any family who chooses differently. To each its own. We feel strongly that the Lord will guide you in your holiday traditions and will let you know how to celebrate Him, if you just seek Him about it.

Here are a few reasons we landed on NOT majoring on Santa::

1.) Christ is NOT Boring:: often adults think, because of childhood experience, that the story of Christ is boring and not amazing. This is SO FALSE. What could be more EXCITING and FULL of WONDER than GOD becoming MAN! Seriously.

2). Lying:: honestly this would have made our decision. We both felt strongly about not lying to the boys. So in this we decided to tell the Truth, both about JESUS mainly and then about the life of the REAL Saint Nicholas. (in as best we know)

3.) Confusion: we thought it was a bit confusing for the boys to distinguish between a God who knows all we do, is always there and always giving good gifts to His Children and a Man who knows if we are bad or good and gives us gifts accordingly. This seemed to be hard to communicate the difference as adults so we thought it would be hard to explain to kids.

With all that said, here are some ways we DO celebrate Christmas::

Shepherds Pouches:: I have talked about these before on my blog Here. I got this idea from a book by Noel Piper called Treasuring God In Our Traditions. These are bags that the kids (an adults) get on Thanksgiving. They are to be used to hold money. Money that is earned. Each family member saves money all month. Then on Christmas Eve night after the Christmas Story out of Luke is read and some songs are sung, we put the pouches under the tree. The next morning when the kids wake up, the money from the pouches are gone and a display is set up to show where the money went. Here is an example from this year:: our money went to get Christmas presents for the Children in Morobo, Sudan.

Advent Candles:: we light one candle a week until leading up to The Jesus Candle (a big white pillar candle in the middle) that is lit on Christmas morning when they wake up. This is a fun way to build anticipation.

Jesus Tree and Ornaments:: We have a Christmas tree we call the Jesus Tree. Each day of December the kids get to open a number on the calender box we have. In each number is an ornament with a name of Jesus on it. We get it out, read it and they get to put it on the tree.


Gift Giving:: of course we give many gifts to one another and celebrate with giving!

Now, how this pertains to Easter:: We get the same question in regards to the Easter Bunny. Now, to my knowledge, there is no real person the Easter Bunny represents that we can draw on and help in teaching about this. So this is what we do. We major on Jesus. We have fun with eggs and such but make a BIG deal out of the Resurrection. We give gifts and celebrate as big as we can. We go on Easter Egg hunts but try to make them just a fun recreational event, not a major part of Easter.

Here are some fun things we do::

The Jesus Candle:: The Jesus Candle from Christmas comes back out at Lent. We keep it lit (as much as possible) Then on Good Friday we blow it out and tell the Crucifixion story. We keep it blown out until Easter morning. I try to have it displayed in a way it is the center of what they see when they wake up.

Palm Sunday Sheep Search:: On Palm Sunday we start a search for the Sheep. I hide a stuffed lamb around the house. Then tell the boys how in Jesus' time, the boys of the house would go out searching for a lamb for their family to give as an offering. Then the search begins. We do this over and over all week. During the week the questions start popping up about, Why a Lamb? What does this have to do with Easter? etc. Great fun teaching opportunity.

Gift Giving:: Our pastor in Irving has had us over for Easter every year since 2006. Every year we eat an amazing dinner with their family. After dinner, Pastor John sends us all out on a search. In his house, EACH person has a bag full of gifts. Even the adults! The first year we went to the Durham home, we walked away so blessed. We had so many conversations about how we want to make the Resurrection of Christ celebrated just as much as His birth. So this will be our first year not in the Durham home. We are praying through who and how to we are going to give gifts in such a fun memorable way.

WOW. that was alot. If you stuck with me, thanks. If not, I understand...I rarely read long blogs either! ha!

Bottom line:: Our kids still have hearts that are filled with greed, our family still struggles with the pull of consumerism but our advise is:: Seek Christ, Honor Him and He will guide you in your Holiday Traditions.


The Reardon's said...

Ambie, Thanks for writing this. It was SOOOO good. I loved how you tied gift giving "Easter Baskets" into the Resurrection/ Easter theme. I love you SO much and find it such a privilege to be your friend. xoxo

shelly said...

amber...i love these thoughts and ideas! thanks for the post!!

courtney said...

great ideas - we try to treat santa in the same way, telling the story of who he was and that part of our celebration is to keep that same spirit alive. i took your idea for an advent calendar and wrote the names of Jesus and scripture reference that we read at the dinner table. thanks for sharing!

Molly Swanson said...

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING THIS!!! I am excited to start thinking and praying about all of this as we start our family and celebrate Jesus together. lots of love!

C:M:W said...

Thanks for the GREAT ideas!!!

thehirschgang said...

YAY! So glad someone else gives gifts at Easter too. :) People have thought us as strange in celebrating Easter with actual gifts rather than candy & trinkets. As christians, we see Easter as equally celebratory as Christmas! So, we all get gifts. We've purposed to make the gifts useful (clothes & such) and spiritually helpful (journals, worship dvds, cds, etc) Noel's book was extremely helpful to us in thinking through some ideas. Have you done resurrection cookies? We've done those every year. I think we need to do the lamb thing- they'd love it, and it sounds like a great way to get them thinking. We also got an Easter activity book w/stickers & such that we're going to do each night the week before leading up to Easter, for our family worship time. Any other ideas would be greatly appreciated!

Missy said...

I love the idea of bring the advent calendars back out at Easter time - wonderful!

Thanks for sharing!

Harris Family said...

What an encouraging post! Thanks for the wonderful ideas!

Virginia said...

Amber, I thought I'd share another neat Christ-centered type of Christmas Story. It comes from Russia. Enjoy~Virginia

Becky Kiser said...

amber i love you so much and respect you as a mom. i love love love it when you share tips like this.