"Jesus' Birthday is coming, and Santa's gonna bring me presents!" my sweet three year old boy announced with his hands clasped in excitement and a twinkle in his eye. He was sitting at the table while I prepared dinner and listened to my Jesus-Christmas music. One of my children's favorites started playing and it reminded him:
He has been watching for each birthday this year - ever since he learned which sticker was his on the calendar.
Jesus has a Birthday sticker too.
Christmas has been an odd kind of balancing act for me ever since I became a mother with children old enough to care. My husband has wonderful childhood memories of anticipating the arrival of Santa Claus. His parents took special care to make it exciting for the children, even going up on the roof and making noise. He loved that and wants his own children to have the same experiences.
I was raised differently. We talked about Santa Claus - but only as a story, a fairytale, an idea. Not as an actual person. While my siblings and I eagerly anticipated presents, my parents were intent on not allowing Christmas to make us narcissistic. We spent several Christmases at a homeless shelter serving dinner to those who came in off the street.
Tiny Boy's comment exemplifies the odd combination of traditions that we have in our home. Our children will set out cookies and milk. One might even write a note to Santa. On Christmas morning they open their presents - usually three gifts because that is how many birthday presents that Jesus recieved. On Christmas day, we will have Birthday cake and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.
There is just one problem. I refuse to lie to my children.
And they know it.
Every so often they will corner me when my husband is not around for me to pass off the conversation to him. They want to know the usual questions: Is Santa real? How does it all work?
I struggle desperately with these questions because I want to respect my husband's traditions but I also fear that my children may lump God into the category of mythological creatures when they are old enough to learn the truth (as many children have done before). Sometimes I dodge the questions. Often I change the subject and put it right back on Jesus-is-the-reason-for-the-season topics.
One benefit of all of this is that it makes me more diligent to pour truth into their lives. Intentionally.
They cornered me again the other day but this time my eight year old would not allow the subject to get off-point. Finally I blurted out, "Do you want to know what I don't like about Santa Claus?"
Of course they wanted to know.
"Santa Claus is a counterfeit for God!" I said.
I started to sing.
"You'd better watch out, you'd better not cry, you'd better not pout -
I'm telling you why: Santa Claus is coming to town.
He's making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out who's naughty or nice.
Santa Claus is coming to town.
He sees you when you're sleeping.
He knows when you're awake.
He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!"
I began to explain how Satan loves to make counterfeits - something that looks almost exactly like the real thing. I pointed out the God-like qualities attributed to Santa: omniscience (knows everything), omnipresence (everywhere at once).
There is a HUGE difference, though. Santa only gives gifts to those who earn them by good behavior. God gives to people who do NOT deserve it!
The Bible says:
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior. Titus 3:4-6I explained that one of the best distractions that Satan has is to keep us busy trying to earn our salvation instead of accepting it as a free gift. At the biggest time of year for gift-giving, it is best to remember that the greatest and most unsurpassable gift that was ever given was a tiny Saviour, wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. This gift cost God everything, but it cost us nothing. Whatever traditions you may have, remember this: CHRISTmas is for YOU!
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast. Eph 2:8-9
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