Jude's first Christmas (2011).
The other week I took the boys to Target partially to pick up some much-needed groceries and partially to get out of the house (and what better place to go). It wasn't even Thanksgiving yet, but of course Christmas decor overwhelmed the place. Red and green. Snow and sleighs. Santa and reindeer. Toys and toys and toys.
I needed more stickers for my boy who stickers everything. The walls. The windows. Me. And I found stickers of Santa. Of reindeer. Sleighs and gifts. And finally, penguins and snowmen.
I found myself struck by the lack of truth. The lack of Jesus and the story of God's son coming as a babe. Of course, this is nothing new. But for me, as a mother, I am finding myself viewing this in a new way. As a child who is just learning and growing might view it.
So I bypassed the Santa. We went with the penguin and snowman stickers instead.
I have friends who will celebrate differently, and that's fine with me. Everyone has their own memories and traditions and ways to enjoy the season. I don't judge if you chose a different way to celebrate. Not one bit. But we aren't going to do Santa.
We won't pretend he is real. We won't do Santa gifts. We won't have Santa decor. And we probably won't make much mention of Santa except to say that it's a fun story that people entertain during the Holidays.
So, you may think I'm ruining Christmas. You may not like what I have to say, but that's okay. You may disagree with me and think it's no big deal. But, to me, it is. And I am perfectly okay having a different tradition than you.
In my opinion, we are battling for truth in this world day in and day out. It takes focus and intention to continue filling ourselves with the word. To maintain a kingdom perspective on life.
And, to me, Santa just doesn't fit in there.
The message of you better watch out and be good versus a message of grace. The message of being good equals material reward versus gratitude, contentment, and treasures in heaven.
So what will we be doing?
We'll be reading about Jesus. I was so excited to find this advent reading schedule using the Jesus Storybook Bible. If you don't have the Jesus Storybook Bible, you must get one. It's perfect for kids and ties the entire bible back to Jesus. I love it probably just as much as our kiddos will.
We'll create new traditions surrounding advent. Instead of doing the whole Santa and reindeer thing, we'll do advent and find a way to may it interactive and fun for my boys. I like the idea of a crafty advent calendar with a different family event every day leading up to Christmas. Simple things, like reading Christmas stories together. Singing together. Baking cookies and taking half to a neighbor. Coloring a nativity scene. Drinking hot cocoa together. Cutting down a Christmas tree. Christmas movie nights. On and on and on. I've started an advent board on Pinterest where I'm keeping my ideas.
We'll make it less about things and more about gratitude. I can't remember where I first saw this, but I love the idea of doing four gifts for each child. Something you want. Something you need. Something you wear. Something you read. And I would also like to add, something to give. Whether it is angel tree or a holiday food basket or a bag to goodwill of toys we don't need, I hope to making giving have a strong emphasis during the holidays.
We'll still have a Christmas tree. We'll still do some gifts. We will not shelter our children and shun Santa or our friends who entertain the story. We'll just take a different approach than most of the world. We are just beginning to create these traditions with our family. I don't know exactly what it will look like and it may change over the years. But one thing I know.
In everything I do, I have the opportunity to point my kids toward Jesus.
That is the lens from which I must view parenting. And Christmas. And discipline. And life, in general.
How do you keep Christ at the center of Christmas? What traditions do you keep in your family?