Tag Archives: Christmas

How We “Do” Santa

This time of year, I’m reading a lot of posts about Old Saint Nick, particularly from Christians who don’t “do” Santa. I’ve read many different reasons for not introducing children to Santa. Fears of children feeling lied to. Convictions about making the holidays too Santa focused and not Jesus focused. Fears of teaching materialism or consumerism. Fears of stealing from the glory of our Lord’s birth. Given all of this, I thought I would share what we do and why.

We’re a Santa-believing family. I grew up believing in Santa. Travis grew up believing in Santa. We had stockings, we raced to the tree to see what delights awaited. But, we also grew up in Christian homes. My parents read to us the story of Christ’s birth from the book of Luke every year. We attended Christmas Eve church services with our extended family. I grew up singing in the church Christmas choir. And honestly, looking back on my childhood, I was never once confused about what Christmas was really celebrating. I’ve always known Christmas to be a celebration of our Lord’s birth. I even remember a song we sang in the church choir when I was seven or eight: “Happy birthday Jesus. I’m so glad it’s Christmas. All the carols and bells make the holidays swell, but it’s all about You….”

I understand all of the arguments that Santa can take away from the true celebration. When so much emphasis is placed on Santa and gifts and toys, how could kids not get confused? Well, Travis and I work hard to make sure our kids aren’t. For one thing, we don’t use Santa as a threat. Absolutely zero emphasis is placed on “the naughty list” in our home. There’s no such thing here.

In our home, Santa is the perfect segue to explaining mercy, love, grace, and redemption to very young children. We believe Santa is the perfect way to introduce children to the substitutionary atonement of Jesus’ death on the cross. Did you make that leap with me, or are some of you clicking the X at the top of the page? Please don’t! Hear me out.

It all goes back to the original Santa Claus, St. Nicholas.

*Brief history lesson ahead*

Saint Nicholas was born to wealthy parents who died in an epidemic. They left him his inheritance, and, feeling convicted by the words of Christ compelling him to care for the needy, he sold off his entire inheritance to give back to the poor, the sick, the needy, the widows and orphans. He was persecuted for his faith and never stopped caring for others and loving those in need. Now, is this the same jolly old elf who famously slides down our chimneys? No. But rather than painting a picture of Santa as a toy manufacturer who watches your every move, eager to punish you with coal if you’re bad, we speak of Santa as a believer in Jesus who gives with love and grace.

We have explained to Buggy that Santa gives gifts out of the kindness and goodness of his own heart, because his desire is that all people will know the love that Jesus freely gives to all. We explain that whether he’s been good or bad Santa still comes. And the reason he comes regardless of Buggy’s behavior is because Jesus loves regardless of our behavior. Do our kids deserve gifts from Santa and stockings full of goodies? Probably not. But we rely on disciplinary methods in our home that work {most of the time} so threats that Santa may bring them nothing really aren’t necessary. And such threats run counter to the portrait I want to paint of Santa, a loving saint of our Lord.

Santa gives because his heart overflows with joy for the Lord who gave his life for us…Not because we deserve it. Santa gives so that we may know kindness and mercy and grace. Santa gives so that we may know generosity for others as well. Every year since Travis and I married, we’ve made it a special tradition to choose one or two children from the Salvation Army Christmas tree. We lovingly pick out gifts for these children and try to get them as much from their request ticket as we can. Now that we have kids, we include them in this. Buggy loves it. He looks forward to it every year and takes great pride in selecting only the best for his chosen Angel Tree child. I’m always careful to explain to him that just as he gives gifts out of the love and goodness in his heart for these children he doesn’t know, Santa also gives him gifts out of the kindness of his heart. And it’s all done in reflection of the ultimate love of Jesus Christ.

My son loves the magic wonder of Christmas that Santa’s arrival brings, but he also moves quickly to dispel any confusion about what Christmas is really about. This mama’s heart swelled with pride just the other morning when I heard him telling Miss Priss at breakfast, “Christmas is Jesus’ birthday. It’s so nice he lets us give everybody else presents on HIS birthday!” Worries about confusion flew out the door.

Someday I’ll sit him down and tell him the truth about Santa and the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy and everything else. For now though, I’m loving the magic of Santa. I love using Santa as a concrete tool to teach my child less concrete concepts like grace, love, and generosity. In the meantime, I’m careful to talk often about the birth of Christ and the love that came into the world on that night in Bethlehem.

Childhood is so short. And in our society, it’s growing shorter and shorter. I want my home to be filled with magic and wonder, excitement and joy. I want to plant a seed of graciousness, generosity, and appreciation in my son’s heart, and I think Santa is perfect for that. Santa is whatever you make him to be. If you paint him as a genie who grants you anything you want, or a judge who harshly decides if you’ve been naughty or nice, then that’s what he’ll be in your home. In our home, Santa is a wonderful saint of the Lord who gives because Jesus gave his life for us.

Maybe this model doesn’t work for every family. Maybe it doesn’t change your mind about Santa. I’m not really trying to combat any of the arguments I’ve read against Santa, because I respect each parent to parent as they see fit. Your convictions are different from mine, and your concerns and priorities are different from mine. But I did want to put our version of Santa out there for anyone who is looking for a way to keep Santa a part of Christmas without taking focus off of Christ. How do you celebrate Christmas? What is your take on the jolly old elf?

Kat

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Simplify Your Life: The Anti-Pinterest Christmas

This post is a confession about my Christmas-based mommy guilt and the actions I’m taking to fix it. I came to the realization that less is more after reading this incredible article from VitaFamiliae. So put down that glue gun and turn off The Grinch and relax a little, moms. It’s okay…

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Oh, the Boards!

Yesterday as I was searching through my Pinterest boards looking for a crock pot lasagna recipe I wanted to try, I scrolled past the board full of Christmas crafts for kids. I also have a board titled “Ornaments to Make,” because I’m a sucker for those sketchy ornaments made of pipe cleaners and popsicle sticks that fall apart over the years.

Oh, and there’s my board of Christmas crafts for mommy {different from the one for children}. This board consists of Hobby Lobby-esque decor for me to DIY all by myself. And there’s the Christmas quilt board. I have a cabinet full of unused Christmas fabric that is screaming for a sewing project. I love Christmas, I love making memories for my kids, I love crafts, I’m addicted to Pinterest…You get the idea. I have a problem.

My Problem

My problem really isn’t the amount of Christmas themed Pinterest boards I have. Okay, maybe I am addicted to Pinterest. But really my problem is the guilt these pins bring me.

You see, I have found myself stuck in a vicious cycle of envy that happens by looking at other mom’s blogs. I see their cute blogs and their perfectly clean and smiling children engaged in imagination-sparking and memory-making activities, and I instantly feel gripped with fear that my kids won’t have the same special memories with me. So I pin the idea. It’s a cute idea. I get visions of sugar plumbs dancing in my head when I picture my three cherubic children seated ’round the dining room table building a fortress out of gingerbread and icing. They smile and giggle and politely pass the gum drops…

Crashing back to earth, Buggy’s usually screaming and bossing at the other two. Miss Priss is whining because she can’t reach the roof, and her obsessive nature insists she MUST work on the roof and nothing else will do. And the baby is screaming and crying, covered head to toe in icing. It’s bad, ya’ll.

But the pins I pin don’t tell the real story of how it will work with my three. The pins just make me feel warm and fuzzy and happy and Christmasy.

Through the Years…

Our family has changed quite a bit over the past three years. Three years ago, I could dive head-first into all of those adorable crafts. But then, three years ago, I didn’t have a Pinterest account to make me feel guilty and horrible for skipping out on something. Last year I had a 3 year old and a newborn. I also had loads of guilt and bad feelings associated with the oh-so-perfect crafts I should have been doing.

I was exhausted, drained, delirious from lack of sleep and stress associated with having our first foster placement, and I beat myself up every single day thinking my son was never ever going to be whole unless he made those stupid handprint ornaments I pinned. Oh, and the coffee filter angels. And the felt Santa hats! And we had to get tickets to see the Polar Express! The list went on and on, and my blood pressure went up and up.

This year, I have three children under the age of 5. Starting on Saturday, we’ll be doing respite for another foster family for several days while they go out of town, so I’ll add a 6 month old to my crew for a little while. And yet, despite this obvious insanity that is my life and passion, yesterday when I ran across those Christmas boards, I felt a tingle of guilt in my stomach.

I want Christmas and the whole season to be perfect for my kids, and Pinterest has convinced me that the only way for it to be perfect is by doing more with them. As much as I can. Activity after activity. Craft after craft. Scripture-based Advents. Nativities made of clothes pins. Christmas movie marathons.

And I realized last night that none of that stuff really matters. My son really doesn’t enjoy crafts that much. He would much rather sit in my lap and read a Christmas book with me. The two little ones have never had a real Christmas, so even the simplest thing is exciting to them. No need for all the extra flash and fun. Picking out her very own stocking from the craft store the other day was enough to send Miss Priss into an excited/overwhelmed fit of happiness. It was enough to make me forget the fact that hers wasn’t handmade.

Stop Pressuring Yourself.

It really is okay to NOT do all of the adorable things you’ve pinned. Pour over them during nap time if you want, but remember my gingerbread house reality? That’s probably yours too. It ain’t pretty. Or fun. And it’s not good fodder for precious memories as a family.

But you know what is good memory fodder? Snuggling in your jammies with a book on the couch. Looking at your Christmas tree together and telling the stories behind each ornament. Looking through family photos of Christmas’s past. Writing letters to Santa. Reading from the book of Luke. Teaching your kids all of your favorite Christmas carols while you fix {a simple} lunch. THAT is worth remembering when they’re old and we’re long gone.

I’ve decided to put away the Pinterest boards for Christmas this year. There won’t be any crafts done. No ornaments made this year. Buggy loves the Elf on the Shelf tradition, so I’m doing that. It’s not something that stresses me out or makes me fret.

Most of all, I’m taking the pressure off myself to make everything look and feel perfect. The picture I shared is from Buggy’s first Christmas. We were so poor. We lived in a one bedroom apartment. His gifts were all either made or used. The wrapping paper didn’t match. In fact, I ran out of wrapping paper and just used newspaper for the rest of the gifts. We didn’t have very many ornaments on our tree, so we used some of the baby’s toys and tied strings around them and hung them from the tree. And that Christmas was absolutely precious to me. It was simple and wonderful.

Each year, I’ve put more and more pressure on myself to match or top that year, and I needed a serious wake up call. The simplicity is what made it so wonderful. So this year, we’re going back to simple. Back before I had Pinterest to stare at and blogs to enviously pour over. I’m not going to feel the pressure and guilt that I felt last year. I’m gonna relax.

I’ll tell ya right now, if you come to my house, don’t expect my gifts to be perfectly matching in parchment paper adorned with beautiful yarn ribbons like the pictures you see pinned on my board. I’m gonna buy that ugly snowman wrapping paper Buggy and Miss Priss went nuts over when they saw it at the Dollar Store the other day. And I’m doing it because it makes them smile, not because it’s picture-perfect or Pinnable.

Taking the pressure off myself this year makes me feel relieved and excited. Now I can focus on what really matters and who really matters. Not pins. Not trying to impress anyone with my craftiness. Just making my kids smile. That’s all I really wanted to do anyway. I just now realized it’s much easier than I thought.

Do you ever struggle with guilt from blogs or Pinterest pictures? Have you put pressure on yourself this Christmas to make it perfect? What steps are you going to take this year to simplify the holidays?

Kat

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Jasper, Our Elf on the Shelf

This year with everything going on with baby girl {and me being hit with a horrible stomach bug and then a cold}, Jasper hasn’t been very active. However, last year he was a real stinker, so I thought I would do a post sharing his antics with you to give you some cute Elf on the Shelf ideas for Christmas! Continue reading

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Filed under Activities, Creative Ideas and Crafts, Holiday Tips, Holidays