We've been thinking about doing this for some time, then I read this post: http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2011/11/29/the-christmas-conundrum I LOVE Jen Hatmaker and just finished her book, Seven (SO GOOD!!). Specifically this part of the post was convicting:
"I'm going to throw out some ideas for what I hope is a more meaningful Christmas; you may take some and leave some. Good reader, you may take none. Maybe you'll tweak an idea to fit your family. You might say, "For the love of Baby Jesus! She's ruining everything! We'll try one little thing this year, ok?! And then we'll quit reading her blog." Here goes:
1.) Because I'm anxious to make enemies and isolate myself from any goodwill you've ever felt toward me, let me just start with a biggie: We've pulled out of the Santa charade. Our newest kids are 5 and 8, preparing for their first Christmas in America, and we're just not doing it, yall. Maybe because we've spent the last four years trying to unravel the mess we've presented to our other kids all these years, but hear me say it: We are giving Christmas back to Jesus. Not a corner of it; all of it.
There is no fake benefactor this year my kids can petition to get more stuff. Because honestly? For a five-year-old, how can Jesus compete with Santa? Our children don't have spiritual perspective; when faced with the choice of allegience, they have a baby in a manger, or they can get a jolly, twinkling, flying character who will bring them presents. This is going to be an easy choice for them. My friend Andrew, who identifies himself as a member of the "non-believer corner" put it this way:
I always thought it was strange how Christians will tell me they have this giant and awesome truth they know is true deep in their soul and want to share with me, but when 12/25 comes around they lie to their own progeny because, apparently, that giant, liberating, and awesomely simple truth is somehow just not enough. It may be a good narrative, but it needs a little something to give it some panache.
As importantly, it sets this tone for Christmas: Be good and you'll get stuff, which becomes so deeply seeded, undoing that position is almost impossible. When we teach our children to understand Christmas through this lens, then tell them at nine-years-old: "Never mind! It's all fake! Oh, and stop being so selfish because Christmas is about Jesus"...we shouldn't be surprised when our kids stage a mutiny and ask to move in with Grandma. Young parents, this is so much easier to do right the first time rather than try to undo later. Give your kids the gift of a Christmas obsessed with Jesus - and no other - when they are little, and it will be their truth all their lives. Some practical points:
* When faced with Santa everywhere, everywhere, everywhere, we told our kids the story of the original St. Nicholas from the 3rd century, and his devotion to Jesus and the poor. We explained that Santa is a character based on his life, but one was real and one is pretend. We also told them some children believe Santa is real, and it's their parents' job to talk about that with their friends, not theirs. In other words, DON'T BE THAT KID WHO MAKES EVERYONE CRY IN THE MIDDLE OF CLASS. You're welcome, teachers.
* For the most part, we are not watching TV this month. We're allowing movies and Netflix, but the less commercials our kids have to digest, the less confusing this month is for them. Um, ditto for all of us. When there are commercials that say, "Hey? You know how to avoid the terrible Disappointed Face when you give your loved one her gift? Buy her a Toyota!"...we have seriously derailed, folks.
* Take a big breath: I got rid of all my Santa paraphernalia this year. No more severed ceramic Santa heads up in here. Try not to flip out. (I am in the "undoing" category I mentioned above. So freaking hard.)
* This is big: I AM NOT JUDGING YOU. If you put carrots on your front lawn for the reindeer and stamp bootprints all over your living room from Santa's shoes, that is fully your prerogative. You don't need to hide your Santa wreath when I come over or defend your position to me or anyone. For us, Christmas has gone through four years of reconstruction, each year progressively more simplified. I know God is doing all sorts of different things with different families at different times; everybody be cool. "
We are going to be learning about St. Nicholas (the real person), but no more Santa. I'm really excited about this! I really like that part in her post where she says "I AM NOT JUDGING YOU." It's true - this is what is right for our family, but it may not be what is right for yours. AND THAT'S OK.
Some other anti-culture Christmas things we're doing: only 3 gifts per kid (if it was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for us!), baby Jesus is not showing up in our nativity till late Christmas Eve, we will be celebrating advent with our candles and Truth in the Tinsel ornaments (and a lego component for Keanan), our family will be picking our big Christmas gift for Jesus off the Compassion International site.
Are you going against the grain this Christmas?