I hope your the Season is finding you enjoying time with your loved ones! There is so much that I would still like to post, but I am finding myself away from the computer, so the rest will have to wait! I would like to leave you with a few thoughts before “the big day” of Christmas festivities begins. I have been contemplating what I want Christmas to be for my family for a few years now and now that my kids are getting older and know what is going on, it is time to make some decisions. In my contemplation I came across a post from my friend and old neighbor, Jessica (she’s the one who taught us how to do our Activity Advent Calendar). She gave me permission to share with you her post. It is rather long, but I love how she put all my thoughts and feelings into words. Note: I am not judging anyone and their Christmas celebrating ways. If you are finding yourself feeling stressed from traditions and demands and feel pressured to give more than you would like this holiday season, just remember that it is okay to go simple. What do you want from Christmas? Anyways, enough of my ramble. Read the article and then feel free to share your thoughts!
And thank you Jess for posting this!
The topic of Santa has been a hot one lately, and each person I speak to and each experience I have had in my life has seemed to shape my opinion into what it is today. With commercials telling us to save huge by buying a new car, and that only by giving diamonds can we show our true affection for loved ones, and that truly nothing else is good enough unless we get that person ____, and that not only should we be giving, but you can spend your $20 on something bigger at Kohl’s because obviously bigger is better, and that kids who were extra good this year this, that and the other.
I stand outside of the consumer arena each year at Christmas time, sipping cocoa, playing some game with Jared, tromping through leaves (it’s CA- we have no snow) with Lukas looking at slugs, instead of madly stressing about getting this/that/the other bought and packaged to show my undying devotion to x,y, and z. I’m not saying that presents are bad, or that they always have to be made. I just think that when we really take a step back and look at the world’s view of Christmas, that it presses a lot of social demands upon parents, kids and individuals everywhere that they wouldn’t normally have. I see couples, newlyweds all the way to oldies stressing about what to get for him/her, or all bent out of shape because they “didn’t get what they wanted” And then the words come out of children’s mouths and we think they’re just selfish and ungrateful. Um, oops. When kids make demands from parents for presents, appearing to have a sense of entitlement to x,y, and z it is not my ideal picture of “Peace on Earth.”
And it’s hard for kids. At school, kids hear what other kids are wishing for, and talking about. It’s hard not to want the same things as friends. And even though kids are sometimes told that good kids are visited by Santa, the fact is that some years parents make more money than others, and the yearly finance report is so often reflected in the amount of “stuff” under the tree. (Although free-piling, craigslist and hand-painted blocks go a long way!)
Being this idealist with a realistic perspective on many issues, I want to discuss the Santa predicament in light of wanting a Christ-centered Christmas.
About 5 years ago, I translated cartoons into German for this guy while Jared was attending BYU. He used to play football in the 80s at the Y and frankly I found him a bit eccentric, but he was giving me money to do honest work, and I didn’t have to see him much. Now, years later I can see some truth in his points, but didn’t like the extreme “IN YO’ FACE” approach he took with others. He spoke of all the things of God that the world has replaced with something else. Like luck. He says there’s no such thing- that they are blessings we are wishing, not luck, and when we say we got lucky, we should really be saying we were blessed. I get it, but not something I’ll say every time I hear the word (he interrupted me to tell me as I remember and I found it obnoxious at the time). Jesus replaced by Santa, Angel helpers replaced by elves, I get it. I just think that whatever we choose to do we should do it unto the Lord and not be all judgemental towards other people. Sheesh guy!
That said, I was asked what I think of the whole Santa thing and here it is.
You might not agree. That’s okay. I appreciate and respect your comments, and hope you’ll share even to say why you don’t agree with it. I won’t cross you off the Christmas card list.
I think that one can first compare a worldly Christmas to a Christ-centered one in this way:
getting-focused Christmas vs. giving-focused Christmas
Elves vs. angels
Santa vs. Jesus
major consumer affair vs. major serving affair
gifts of “things” vs. gifts of love, forgiveness
the “have to have” picture with Santa vs. Picture in a manger scene holding baby Jesus
I love the quote given in the Ensign recently to “have the courage to make cuts and changes” in order to have a more Christ-centered Christmas. You may be thinking, but where’s all the fun? Oh there is fun alright!
Every year we have an advent calendar in which we write down 24 different activities that can be done on the way to Christmas, including doorbell ditching, caroling, cookie making, tree decorating, visiting the temple lights or Creche Festival, driving around to see lights, hanging up lights ourselves, reading a Christmas scripture before bed, singing Christmas songs.
It appears to be more about perspective of the doings than anything else. The idea is to tweak everything to make it more Christ-centered. It’s okay to have all those fun tunes playing “Let it snow” & Sleighbells, and Lukas singing “Jingabewws” is so fun. But it’s also accompanied by his favorite request “Mama, Holi Nite” and of course the fork raising “Hallelujah, foreva”. Change out some more secular decorations for some more Christ-centered decor, change out some time spent stressing with time laughing together as a family. Give experiences as gifts instead of things (a night ice skating together. Add pieces to a manger scene, go to spiritual things, see music sung- your kids will never forget the amazing sound of a good choir singing the Hallelujah Chorus. Explain the why-s behind what you’re doing as you go.
When I think of the “magic of Christmas” as a kid I think of the mysteriousness of Santa- a suit hanging here followed by an explanation, questions about how he gets into our house without a chimney, etc. There were always presents on Christmas morning from Santa, wrapped in paper mysteriously never seen before. I never had a shocking moment of “Omigosh, he’s not real?” because I remember at a young age knowing when our family had money and didn’t, and don’t remember demanding to have something, although perhaps I did, and always enjoyed going along with the “magic” of it all, no matter how outrageous dad’s explanations could become. It made it all the more unbelievable, but fun looking back on it.
But it is true that what I remember most is that the family was together, that all the kids often slept in the same room, that we’d open one present on Christmas Eve, and that one year Jeremy made sure I opened a present from him so that I’d have a flashlight at 4 in the morning to go loot our stockings, which were also filled by Santa and that he was sort of the captain of stocking-getting as I remember. It was sweet.
I think that this level of “magic” and fun is also achievable without making a huge deal out of Santa. Not going on an ANTI-Santa riot, but by not playing him up into something that is not. I really think it could be just as surprising and fun should Santa’s name not be attached to it. In response to an inquiry from a few moms I know, I have too heard a mom say she rethought things when her kid asked (after devastatingly finding out that S-man was a farce- guess he was pretty suckered), “So is Jesus real?” which makes one want to justify a hundred things, but really let’s face it. It’s a lie we love to tell children because for the most part it’s fun to see them all excited. Most everything parents do, in my shortly lived parenting experience, is to get a positive reaction and/or affirmation of reciprocated love from our kids- or to “give them what we never had” even if it brings out the worst in them, because let’s face it, just because we wanted it and felt like we “needed” it, doesn’t mean they do.
Anyhow, so I’m basically saying I feel like Christmas is out of control these days. Perhaps it’s better to focus on one really special gift instead of a dozen things in order to have more under the tree. One special bought thing and the rest made/created. Maybe it’s a good time of year to go school shopping so there’s more under the tree and it’s better justified financially. I see NO point in going into debt for Christmas, Weddings, Receptions, etc. I’m thinking out loud here. Instead of our kids focusing on “what do I want?” we can help them with “What would you like to do for your brother? Sister?” Lists are fun, but they can get out of control. I think ideas that come without the help of colorfully printed catalogues say a lot about what kids really want…..
To read the rest go here! (there are many more good points/thoughts, but I’m going to skip to the end to wrap it up)
….Just some schmorgasborg of food for thought. So no, I’m not slaying Santa. Just playing him down, that’s all. And focusing on Jesus. My kids will know that the Lord sends lots of helpers over all the world to bring joy and cheer into the hearts of people everywhere. Everyone can be a “Santa’s helper” or pretend to be one of “his” elves and do things in the spirit of Christmas that are things that Christ or his angels would do. A funny LDS speaker Mary Ellen Edmunds talked once at the MTC about she and her nieces going elving, looking from the car windows in a shopping center parking lots for someone who they felt moved by the spirit to help. A child would run up to a person, place an envelope in their hand, and before the person could open it and find the bills inside, the child was gone and the joy was spread. Being elves is fun, in the spirit of Christ. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a stretch to put the presents from Santa if it’s S.A.N.T.A. (Savior’s Angel Noticing Things Always) or make up your own acronym, but I don’t think going to huge efforts to paint a picture that isn’t true is a good idea.