The santa dilemma

You better watch out. Santa Claus is coming to our house.

And I'm excited about that. The Santa buzz around here is building and I'm eager to find out what that jolly ol' dude has in store for my family.

But here's the dilemma. There's a truth about Santa that some of you might already know, and some folks think that Santa's truth is getting in the way of The Truth. The Truth that is living and breathing and blossoming in my heart. The Truth that means everything to me. And Lord willing, that Truth will mean everything to my precious children.

Recently I read a post here and a post here, and believe it or not, they both resonated beautifully with me. But how can I be moved by one author who doesn't celebrate Christmas with Santa and presents while agreeing with another author who not only celebrates Christmas with Santa Claus, but get this, she flat out believes in the ol' man?! How can I hide elves humorously around my home each night while praying intensely for my dear friend whose non-Santa practicing family is sacrificially spending their Christmas loving on a country and a people who so desperately need Jesus?

I don't know.

But I do.

And for what it's worth, here's where I've landed, at least for now:

1) I love a child's imagination. LOVE. My absolute most magical memories of childhood are my daydreams and make believes. When my childhood was lonely, I dreamed and imagined up a friend of my very own. Her name was Dorothy, and I still love her. My parents never fussed at me about Dorothy. They let her have a seat at our table and they brought her a water cup along with mine. And I thank them for that, for allowing me Dorothy.

I think this is where I find Santa in all this. It's an opportunity for me to engage in my children's imaginations. If only for a few years, it will be delightful to whip up silly stories and fanciful tales about elves and reindeer and chimneys. Some might call me a liar. I call me a dreamer.

2) If I do my job right, there will be no confusion about Jesus & Santa. If I preach THE TRUTH about Jesus all year round, then what's the difference in December? There is no difference. We still celebrate Jesus in December just as we do in February and August. His miraculous and holy birth. His eternal gift of life. His grace and mercy. Definitely His mercy. It was only this morning that I pulled into our driveway and asked my children for forgiveness and we sat there, the van in park, praying and praising because God is merciful when I'm impatient and snippy and wretched. It's the week of Christmas and I'm as broken as ever. Santa might be able to deliver happiness in a wind-up toy, but only Jesus can deliver pure, undeserved joy.

In my world, we can sit on Santa's lap on Wednesday and walk through the life size nativity on Saturday. We can write a letter to the North Pole and paint a picture of the blessed nativity.
It's not an either-or. And yet the two don't get equal playing time. Jesus will always be the King of this home.

For me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

Jesus will always be the reason. The reason we breathe. The reason we love. The reason we celebrate. Santa and his shiny bells are nothing more than a fantasy that we bring to life. Jesus, He is our life. He is our heartbeat and our breath. Fantasy ain't got nothin' on our faith - our daily bread.

In a few short days, my minis will wake from their sugar-plum-filled visions to stockings full of trinkets delivered magically by a sleigh. And we will thank Jesus. Thank Him for blessing us with a loving home, warm beds, a full fridge, and precious dreams.

And don't worry. We paid Santa a visit last week. And one thing's for sure. Jesus has never received this kind of reaction from my kids.

*These pictures are from last year's Santa visit. There was only slight improvement this year. I'll share more soon.

Preserving Christmas

Until a few days ago, my son didn't know about Santa Claus.

But in the last week, we've had several interactions with folks who have asked my son a question that I never expected to hear so frequently.

"What's Santa going to bring you?"

I never ever ever thought this would be such a tough question for me. When the clerk at the grocery store or a friend at lunch asks my son about Santa, he stares at them blankly until I pipe in and save face. More for their sake than my son's.

And because my son is perceptive, he now knows that when someone asks about Santa the answer is Yes Ma'am! and PRESENTS!

Isn't it fascinating that of ALL the questions one could ask a child during this season, the ones so often asked are, "Will Santa visit your house this year?" and "What's Santa going to bring you?"

Not, "What are you doing to celebrate Jesus' birthday?" Because that's the question that I want to hear my son answer. And at 2 1/2 years old, my son UNDERSTANDS birthday. He can sing Happy Birthday and tell you about presents and games and he most definitely can tell you about cake. Henry LOVES birthdays.

So whether or not I want my son to know Santa, he's going to know Santa. It's the American way, for goodness sake. And because it frightens me that at such a young age my son is already making the connection between Santa and Christmas and presents, I am trying my darnedest to preserve CHRISTmas. (For the record, we have every intention of practicing Santa. But my prayer is that Santa will never trump Jesus. A girl can pray.)

Here are a few things that my family is doing to keep Christ in Christmas:
  1. Jesse Tree. I LOVE this advent tradition because of its emphasis on Jesus and because it doesn't involve picking candies out of a cardboard display. If you don't know Jesse Tree, I encourage you to learn about it. This is quickly becoming my favorite tradition of all time.
  2. Service. This year we are serving as a family alongside The Manger. It's a great fit for us because our children can participate. I think service is important year-round, but it seems that there are more family-wide opportunities available during the holidays.
  3. Family. Although our children are young, it is important that we spend the evening together - as a family - decorating the house for Christmas. This year, our son put the star on the tree and our daughter danced to carols as we decorated. We created a memory that is a fantastic reminder of Christmas' true meaning - a celebration for Jesus.
  4. Give. Rather than focusing on gifts for those who have excess, we are shifting our priorities. At the top of that list: giving to those who truly need. My friend Marla introduced me to giving opportunities through Samaritan's Purse and Gospel for Asia's. I love these opportunities for many reasons, and it's especially neat to look through the catalogs with Henry as he excitedly identifies the many animals available for gifting. This type of giving engages our children and allows us to have a hand in making a difference in another family's life.
  5. Fast. Why wait until Lent to practice fasting? In an effort to focus on the holiness of this season, I am praying about what is in my best interest to go without. Fasting is such a challenge for me. I always gain a heightened awareness of my awful selfishness leaving me humbly on my knees.
Those are only a few of the things that we are doing this year. What about you? How is your family preserving Christmas?