I struggle to talk about Santa aka Saint Nicholas (we celebrate them as the same person in our house); and how do I make sure we spend enough time celebrating the most important but all too often overshadowed, Jesus? How many presents? Where we will be which days and who we will be with? Trying to humbly explain to many relatives why we really don’t want them to give so many gifts.
A part of me wants this holiday to be an explosion of gifts and surprises around every corner, a time of endless celebrations and gatherings. Yet the deepest parts of me long to minimize the consumption and craze and maximize Christ. I firmly believe we will never regret parenting decisions made with a heavy reliance on the Holy Spirit.
Slowing Down Christmas
In an effort to enjoy the gift of the holidays and avoid tension wherever possible, I’m not trying to tackle every stressful aspect. Instead, we’re cultivating three truths in our home:
Christ the Savior is Born
Jesus is first in our hearts. Christmas is not an Old or New Testament festival or commandment. God never asks us to observe it in the Bible. But some guy way back in church history decided to make Dec 25 a day to celebrate Christ’s birth, and I am a part of the church. I am awestruck at God’s choice to choose the humblest form for his grand entrance- that of a human infant. Christ is Born! Lord at Thy Birth! This means we talk about Advent themes daily in our home- celebrating the humble coming of the Savior, and anticipating his glorious return.
Less is More
This one is hard for me. I do believe less is more in many instances. But I grew up in a family of heavy gift giving, which certainly wasn’t miserable on Christmas morning, and it’s hard trying to separate the insane amount of love I feel towards my kids from the amount of stuff I give them on Christmas. I have to remember that I was always overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I had to cram in my room! Too many possessions correlates to higher stress levels for kids and parents, lower quality play for kids, and an increase in expressions of ingratitude.
We have never told our kids Santa is real. That makes some people really angry! Relatively early on, we started talking about the legacy of Saint Nicholas and the legendary generosity he bestowed on others because of his love for the Lord. St. Nick is whom a lot of people refer to as Santa. It can be fun for all of us to pretend Santa’s coming, and we don’t stop our kids from using their imaginations! But they always know it’s pretend.
A lesson I’ve been learning lately is that truly putting Christ at the center of our lives is often uncomfortable, sometimes even painful. It means sacrificing myself and my desires; it means doing things differently and people noticing.