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!