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Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Celebrating at Our House ~ Part One

Holiday preparations are certainly shaping up at our home.  Presents are bought and decorating almost completely done.  I have always been one to start my decorating early...I like to enjoy the white lights as long as I possibly can.  Over the years, the ways in which we have celebrated Christmas has changed pretty dramatically.  It is a pleasant thing to see the ways in which the Lord has personally led our family to worship.  I guess I have always had a problem with the commercialism tied to Christmas.  It seems this time of year things are about anything but Christ.  Even in many of our churches, we have so many activities tied to the Christmas season, that it becomes an exhausting scramble from one party, sing, cookie exchange, ornament exchange, etc. to another.  I find it ironic that our Lord chose to be born in an out of the way stable...no fanfare, no party...just a quiet stable in Bethlehem.  Is it any wonder that He says, "Be still and know that I am God."

When my husband and I first got married, we always knew when we had children that there would be no Santa Claus done in our home.  Both of us had already come to that conclusion even before marriage...which is a really great thing...there wasn't even the temptation for an argument over the man in the red suit.  I remember finding out as a child that Santa did not exist.  It was actually pretty tough on me because I knew that I had actually been told a lie.  When I found out about Santa...all the other imaginary figures in my life crumpled at the same time.  The Easter bunny and the tooth fairy certainly couldn't be real either.  It made Christmas a downer for me.  Oh, I had always been told about Christ, but He didn't have the same "excitement" for a small child as the man who rode around in the sleigh with 8 reindeer (well, 9 if you count Rudolph) and gave out gifts to good little boys and girls.  I would stay up late at night looking out my window hoping to get a glimpse of Rudolph's red nose or to catch the sound of the jingle bells on the sleigh.  Then...public school came along and all these kids started talking about how Santa wasn't real, it was really just my Mom and Dad.  I was crushed.  Then, when I grew up and became a Christian, I made up my mind that my children would not hear of Santa in our home...they would only know him like they knew any other make-believe person.  Christmas would only and ever be about the birth of Christ.  And we would thank Him for any gift we ever got...He is the One after all that enables us to get or buy anything.  Have my children suffered for not believing in Santa?  Absolutely not.  They have thanked us many times for not telling them about him.  When we used to open gifts on Christmas Eve, my husband would first read the account of the birth of Christ from Luke, then we would pray and thank the Lord for the gifts He enabled us to get that year.  It was very special to see the children thankful unto God for their presents, rather than an imaginary Santa Claus.  Our children have never suffered from thinking there is no Santa.  Amazingly, the hardest opposition has been from well-meaning family and friends who felt we were "ruining" Christmas for our children because we did not tell them about Santa.  I never understood the logic that somehow Christmas was ruined because we focused more on Christ.  I think what is hardest for people is to question their traditions and to give those up...to be looked at as "those" people...you know the people you think are a little weird, but you smile at them anyway.  I thought we were radical enough with that one...but over the years the Lord has changed our view of Christmas celebrating even more...if you think we're odd for not doing Santa...stay tuned...more to follow...and to many, it makes the Santa Claus thing look pretty mild!  But oh, how it has enriched our family and how we celebrate the Savior!  Until next time...God bless!

10 comments:

Lois said...

We don't do Santa either for many of the same reasons. The hard part was seeing all the Santas, and training the children how to respond in a gracious manner to those who ask what Santa was going to bring them. We used Santa Claus as an object lesson to teach how giving done in secret is so much better than crowing about giving. One year we studied Christmas traditions around the world, and so learned about the real person Saint Nicholas. Actually, I don't recall anyone criticizing us for denying our kids the fun of Santa. Many people would take me aside and just ask if we do Santa. I always appreciated that, because as you said, there are so many more harmful things that come their way.

We have done nativity readings most years, read the prophecies concerning Christ, listened to Handel's Messiah, and I love the wonder of Christmas. This year I think we're going to read the stories behind the carols.

I would love to peek in your window and see your decorations! Have a blessed advent.

Trisha said...

Jackie,
It's neat to see the different ways we all celebrate Christmas. We have a tree and enjoy the gifts and celebrating Advent has really helped keep the focus on THE FOCUS. :) I do love this time of year, and I'm looking forward to reading more about your traditions.

Hugs!

The Heaton Family said...

beautiful! A family surrendered to God and His ways is so beautiful to me! May your further transition be a smooth one. I know it will be a blessed one!

His bondservant said...

Lois,
Yes, it is hard to keep the children responding in a gracious manner. Many times when someone asked what Santa was giving them for Christmas they were completely silent and would just at me as if to say, "What do I do now?" May you have a blessed Advent season as well!

Gail,
Thank you for your encouraging words. You are always so gracious. May YHWH bless you my friend!

Trisha,
I do love this time of year as well. May the Lord continue to bless you as your family focuses on Him!
Blessings,
Jackie

Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

I was in a different position. I did not want to do Santa, but my husband did. So we do Santa, but I really downplay it as much as I can. Compromise seemed to be the best way.

His bondservant said...

Stacie,
Since your husband is the head of your home, I believe you were wise in following his leadership. There are many times we as husbands and wives do not agree...that is where we pray and allow God to do the changing. God bless you my friend, Jackie

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

I'm in the same position as my sis on this one. We just don't make a big deal out of it at all. If anyone asks my kids what Christmas is about, they will tell them the real reason for the season. We only do one small gift from Santa. Josiah asked me if there was really a Santa last year after Christmas and I told him the real story of St. Nicholas (we have the wonderful Voice of the Martyr's book). He still chooses to believe in Santa, just for fun, even though he knows the truth. Soon he will get out of that pretending stage and it won't be an issue at all.

His bondservant said...

Jackie,

It sounds like you are handling the situation in a very wise way. May the Lord continue to bless your efforts as you do the hard job of parenting. It is certainly the most challenging thing I have ever done!

Blessings,
Jackie

Camille said...

What a lovely post Jackie! How wonderful it is to celebrate the REAL reason for CHRISTmas! It is so rich and beautiful...how could it be otherwise?? May the LORD help you to celebrate HIM throughout the coming weeks. I too enjoy the season and the decorating...the family times and the advent focus. This year we have chosen to remember advent with the "Jesse Tree"...it is beautiful to see the LORD JESUS being promised in Genesis and HIS lineage traced throughout the Old Testament. Thank you for sharing your heart...it will be a blessing to read more. :)

In His Love,
Camille

Camille said...

Oh...and I forgot to say...I *love* that painting you chose as the picture for this post...SOOOO gorgeous! :)