Monday, December 08, 2008

What to do about Christmas? (Part 1?)

I have been pondering this for some time. It's the new parent in me perhaps. I am always striving to live my life with a purpose that pleases God and raise my daughter in a similar manner. By the way, I fail miserably all the time but I keep trying! During this Christmas season, I am in a constant debate with myself on how to celebrate the holidays with my daughter.

Thankfully it doesn't matter so much this year as she is only beginning to get a sense of what is going on. She isn't really aware of what all the hype is about. That's a good thing. The main statement that I want to teach my daughter is that Christmas is not about gifts, food, lights, parties, even family gatherings. The real reason to celebrate this time of year is that our Savior came to earth.

I am (mentally) trying to find that happy balance. I do not want to be a scrooge or grinch and ruin any Christmas joy for my daughter or anyone else for that matter. At the same time, I wrestle with the very weighty fact that Andrew and I are given the great responsibility and joy of raising her in the way that the Bible instructs. It is more important for her to believe that Jesus came to this earth as a baby in order to save us from our sin and consequently, hell, than it is for her to believe that there is a mystical person named Santa Clause who brings her loads of crap (sorry for using that word, Mom) that will only cause her to be self-centered, spoiled, and unappreciative of the things that really matter in life. I'm struggling to find that balance of "holiday" cheer and teaching her what really is True.

First of all, let me say how thankful I am (yet again) for my husband. He agrees with me wholeheartedly on these issues and has come up with half of these ideas himself. I am so glad that we agree on this. Second of all, nothing is set in stone. We haven't made any decisions about how our Christmas traditions will play out yet because we have time. We desire to teach her that receiving time from someone is a much more precious gift that receiving a toy.

As I have been pondering all of these seemingly weighty decisions (as they effect others as well) and found this blog, written by a college friend of ours, very interesting. I wanted to share.

Do you agree? What are some family traditions that have helped shape your kids into appreciative, giving, thankful Christ-following people instead of spoiled brats (that's what we're trying to avoid here). I'd love to hear from you!


Jennifer said...

We're debating the Santa issue in our house. But I think back to my childhood and I was raised getting gifts from family, celebrating, eating amazing meals, spending priceless time with my family, etc etc. I knew from the time I was old enough to understand that Christmas was celebrating Christ's birth. It wasn't about the presents or the food. But that doesn't mean that we can't do those things. Sometimes I think parents make a bigger deal out of Santa than kids do! We didn't "believe" in Santa as kids, but we didn't go around telling all the kids "Santa's not real". It just wasn't a big deal. And I didn't have sad, horrible Christmases b/c we didn't believe in Santa. I think it's more important to teach our kids all year long about service, selflessness, love...all those things. We can't just expect to teach our kids these huge life lessons one month a year. If we're teaching our kids those things (by action and word) all year long, then it's not going to cause them to become spoiled brats at Christmas when they get some gifts.
I'm sure that is all jumbled together and doesn't make too much sense, but I've got 2 kids climbing all over me!! :)

Jaime said...

Yep, it makes perfect sense. That is a lot of what I've been thinking and how I was raised too. I don't want Santa to be any part of our CHRISTmas but I also don't want Abigail to spoil Santa for some other poor kid.

Jenn said...

Hi Jaime, I agree with Jennifer too.

We never made a huge deal out of Santa. We would have fun with it, but when our children became old enough to ask, we were honest with them. We did tell them that Santa was based on St. Nicholas who lived in England. That Santa was the americanized version...and just a made up figure that represented the spirit of giving and that made if fun for the children to believe. But that the true "spirit" of giving comes from have Jesus in our hearts, and the Holy Spirit guiding us to give to those in need. And we should do this all yr long, not only Christmas look for ways to help and give of our time. We explained how St. Nick took toys to the poor children in England who did not have anything. Also, from the beginning, we only bought our children 3 gifts and we would share the story of Christ's birth and how 3 wisemen brought gifts to Jesus. We always read the Christmas story of Jesus' birth on Christmas day from the Bible as a family. Oh, when we told our children the truth about Santa, they never spoiled it for other kids who did do Santa. They were very young when they asked, and they understood and did not tell other kids who still believed. Even though they are 10 and 12 now, they still have fun playing along. They still put out cookies and milk for Santa, and (we the Santa eat it...haha...and leave notes back and forth with them). We still do one larger gift with a tag "from Santa" or leave it out as if left from Santa, and 2 smaller gifts...3 gifts total. Then a few stocking stuffers of items that are needful. They never suffered for anything, and in fact got way too much from grandparents, aunts and uncles...we would have to pack some things up, and pull out items throughout the yr when they would get tired of playing with those toys. So anyway, this is how we handled it. :) It is a big decision, and so good that you and your husband are together on it. My husband and I prayed a lot about how to handle it because for me...I got a big let down as a child. I did not grow up in a home where Christ was the focus, and I can remember seeing them putting the toys out at 1 am...I was crushed!!lol, but anyway, we both wanted to make sure we kept it fun, but most of all Christ being the main focus. :)

Jaime said...

Yep, I agree with you too. Andrew and I just talked the other day about how fun it will be to share the story of St. Nicholas with Abigail but to let her be realistic about where the gift(s) come from.

Susan said...

I am trying to process this discussion since Andrew believed in Santa until he was about 12!

I really like the idea of having 3 gifts to tie in with the gifts of the wise men, although I am probably past the point of starting new traditions. My dad always wanted to shift the focus of gift giving to our birthdays and not have so many at Christmas.
Trying to keep the focus on Christ is why we continue some of the traditions that we have - the Advent service at Mom's, why we make it a priority to go to the Candlelight service together as a family, etc. Receiving gifts graciously is certainly a great way to learn more about gratitude.

I found out early on (around 6) that there was no Santa. But that has never diminished my joy in this precious season of the year. Now how did my little one sentence comment become such a long post?