I have always claimed Christmas as my favorite holiday. While I still adore the celebration, for the obvious reasons, I believe it’s the time of year I enjoy, and, was referring to before. If I want to label it my favorite “holiday,” I think it must be a requirement to call it a tie with Easter.
Doesn’t it make sense that Christ’s birth and death/resurrection be of equal importance. (I realize He had to die for our sins. Some of you may argue this is more important, but really… He had to be born in order to die!)
Anyways, moving on to my real point 😉 Christmas!
Having children really changes how you look at Christmas. Before my kids came along, Santa Claus was just a duh. Christmas= Santa Claus, presents, singing, lots of food, fighting over which in-laws you were going to visit on the 25th, Christmas lights, Christmas trees, decorating, etc., etc., etc. What is missing? CHRISTmas! I cannot believe it really took me having children to open my eyes to what I was celebrating.
I’ve struggled the last couple of years with whether or not to have “Santa” at our house. God really spoke to me this year on the topic. Although, thinking about it, I’ve come to realize my issue is more with the emphasis on GETTING presents than Santa Claus.
Now, before you attack me with the “Nothings wrong with Santa Claus, or with getting presents,” please hear me out.
Why do we celebrate Christmas? I’ve done some research and even asked several different people their take on this. So here is my summary (emphasis on MY!)… Believers, many, many years ago, wanted to incorporate Christ’s birth into the pagan traditions they already celebrated. So out came Christmas. A time to celebrate Christ with their families (mass – communion service for Christ, so Christ mass) .
So how about Santa Claus? I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but who doesn’t need a reminder? I could use one! Saint Nicholas “had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for Santa Claus… His reputation evolved among the faithful, as was common for early Christian saints.”
You know who explains this best? The wonderful philosophers, Larry and Bob. Yup… Veggie Tales! The experts! If you haven’t seen it yet, you should check it out. Veggie Tales: Saint Nicholas A Story of Joyful Giving… thank you to our amazing Bo for gifting Conner with it this year! I could not explain it better.
They show how Saint Nicholas gave because God had given to him. And, that he did it in secret. It was not about the credit. We should give because we are happy, not because it makes us happy. I LOVE it! Thanks, Bob and Larry.
Ok… WHEW… I’m getting there. Just hang in there with me.
God reminded me this year that I need to focus on celebrating what an amazing gift He sent to us, and on giving to others as He gave (and gives) to us!
I’m not saying it’s wrong to get or give gifts, especially to your own children, but to stress, when times are hard, over getting everything or anything on their “wants list,” just seems crazy to me!!! What if instead we teach them why we celebrate? Or that they are NOT in need of anything? Or that the things they do receive are special and something extra that is done in celebration?
This Christmastime, I was blessed to witness both my dad and grandfather being baptized! What a wonderful gift! The morning they were baptized, my grandparents’ pastor asked the congregation what they used to get for Christmas. Mind you, this is an older crowd. Most answered, “Nothing.” He said, “Exactly, and when you did get something you felt so blessed and were grateful at the gift you had received.” Children are being taught greed these days, since we would rather rack up a credit card bill than tell our children, “This year we cannot afford gifts but we can play games and fellowship with our family.”
Imagine what a gift you could give your child by instead shopping for a needy child or family, and not giving as many, if any, gifts to them. I know it’s now 2 am, Christmas morning. The gifts are bought and wrapped. And again, there is no sin in getting gifts, but I am more concerned with what I teach my children by giving them so much, when they already have SO MUCH!!! If I could explain how blessed they are already, and focus on how we can donate items we already have (especially to make room for the many more they are gifted with by loving friends and family), then I will be honoring Christ in a biblical manner.
I intend to explain how Santa Claus came about, but to have some magical gifts arrive in the night, it’s just not for me. Don’t worry… I won’t condemn you if you do. I won’t shudder at the idea of Santas around your house, or pictures of kids on Santa’s lap. My intent is merely to reveal what God has laid on my heart and remind you who you serve and why we celebrate.
My prayer for you and your family: Have a very Merry Christ Mass!