Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Christmas Conundrum Turns Into a Combo Loco

WARNING: This is a completely off-the-wall, quirky-Katie, I just needed to get some stuff out there kind of post... if you are not in the mood, keep calm and carry on! Merry Christmas!

Have y'all heard? Christmas is a little less than two weeks away! What?! I just bought Kaki's stocking a hanger today and I have not one present wrapped under my tree, but it is Christmastime regardless of how on top of it I may be and I love it! Since I was a child Christmas was a time of year where I felt most at peace with the state of the world I was living in. Everything seemed to be tied up in a pretty red bow and adorned with sparkly lights and in the eyes of a child that meant all was well. To this day when I hear certain Christmas classics being used as jingles for commercials on TV an overwhelming sense of peace sweeps over me. It's weird, but it happens every time. I always say that I love my house more decorated for Christmas and when I have to take it all down it seems so empty and cold. There is a warmth of the season that is simply unmatched by any other. My wonder and excitement for the season does not stop at the decorations and the carols, of course... it is simply accented by these things and fortified by a very rigid belief in the one, the only Santa Claus.

Oh, how I loved Santa as a child...his beautiful fur trimmed red coat and happy, rosy cheeks. I loved that he watched over me all year long and was sure to reward me for my most excellent behavior. I constantly dreamed about the ways in which he was able to make it to every child in the entire world in one night, never once questioning that it was entirely possible. It was mysterious but nonetheless very believable as far as I was concerned.

This unwavering faith in Santa is the driver behind one of my favorite "go-to" stories that I tell during the infamous, "when did you stop believing in Santa?" conversations that seem to round out any good holiday party. It goes something like this... "Oh, well... I was the girl in sixth grade who took her letter from Santa to school to prove the others wrong. It was a computer generated letter with green type, but my name and Santa's names were both written with a beautiful inky red pen, one that could only belong to Santa himself. I was adamant that Santa was the real deal despite what the other kids in my class tried to say. It didn't matter who said what about my man Santa, I wasn't backing down."

The crowd listening to my story is usually chuckling by now and a few are giving their condolences in the form of a, "bless your heart!" And then inevitably I get asked, "so when did you stop believing in Santa?" And I say... "I haven't!" And then everyone laughs again... I'm tellin' y'all it is a real crowd pleaser!

But the thing is, it's true. My parents have never told me that Santa isn't real and I still imagine his house in the North Pole and his sleigh full of reindeer. And now, as a parent I feel like Santa is coming back to a fuller life as I get to dream up fantastical ways of telling the story of Santa to my children. The amazement, the excitement, the mystery of it all is so compelling and truly beautiful. Isn't it?

So here I am, chalk full of Christmas cheer one evening when I come across a blog post here, a facebook status there and I sensed a movement taking shape in regards to the ways in which we, as Americans and maybe more as Christians, treat Christmas. Now, this happens every year I believe but I suppose this year it caught my eye a bit more, or perhaps my eyes were just in the right places at the right time. Something was stirring inside of me but I wasn't quite sure what it was... so naturally, I moved on...

Until it happened again, a facebook comment here, a re-posted blog here (of which I only read the title) and I was assured that the movement was picking up some steam... and then today, another repost and another comment led me to a popular author's blog who had written a post about the Christmas Conundrum and this particular post was becoming quite popular as I had seen it mentioned as a good read in several different places and her suggestions being implemented in several homes, so I thought... "I better see what all the buzz is about... I am nothing if I am not timely!" :)

So I read it and found myself very challenged, thinking seriously about what the author said about making Jesus a bigger part of our Christmas traditions. I questioned if what I was doing was enough? Are the things of Christmas clouding the things of Christ?

So, there was that... my nice, calm, reasonable, thoughtful reaction... how could I do better? She's right... I need to reign in the Christmas cheer and bring out the Jesus Jujubes.

And then there was this... "Oh gosh! There go those crotchety Christians, trying to steal everyone's joy, again! Now we've taken to bashing Santa I see? What's next, I ask? They really are fun suckers... every party has a pooper and that's why we invited you Crotchety Christmas Cheer Killing Christians... "

I know, not what you were expecting right? Well, I'm just being honest! My sixth grade self was so hurt to hear that this author was advocating that Christmas traditions should be stripped of Santa and of his decorations and his merriment. It's not Santa's fault that Jesus gets forgotten... just like RGIII can't help that he is better than EVERY other player in college football... life isn't fair, haven't you heard?

And besides... what has Santa got to do with Jesus??!!

And then it hit me... Santa has got everything to do with Jesus!

Hang in there with me... I know it sound sketchy right now, but I am going somewhere!

I realized what had been stirring deep down inside of me that was now coming to the top was the fact that I was just plain sad that the character that represented a special piece of my childhood joy and fascination was being given a bad wrap, and that just made me want to cry. How could such a wonderful creation be bad? I just couldn't believe it... that Santa and the gifts that he gives are to blame for the lack of Jesus in our homes, in our country... NO way! If we are going to blame anything or anyone, let's go stand in a mirror when we start pointing that finger and own up to it!

Santa wasn't the bad guy... I am, and not in the ways in which you may be thinking. I have been seeing Santa through the wrong eyes. In our attempt to separate our Christmases into the church Christmas and the corporate Christmas we have lost sight that perhaps God who is nothing if he isn't SUPER SMART and VERY INTENTIONAL gave us Santa for a purpose! Maybe Santa and Jesus should be working as a pair. Why does it have to be one or the other? Why can't we all just get along for goodness sake... oh... you better watch out... you better not cry... sorry couldn't help myself...

But truly, why can't we mix a lot of Jesus with a lot of Santa? GASP! I know, I know... Santa is of the world and Jesus is well, Jesus. Jesus and Santa just don't mix. But Jesus and alcoholism do, don't they? And Jesus and anger mix, right? And how about Jesus and fear? Or Jesus and drug addiction? Jesus mixes with a whole lot of worldly things and creates some divine creations... amen? Isn't that the whole point of Jesus? Christmas is all about Jesus taking the shape of a man, born to a woman and her husband in a manger, born to live and walk among the people, and to eventually bring freedom from all that's worldly with his death on the cross!

So mixing Santa and Jesus doesn't seem like too much of a stretch does it?

In fact, I think God is one of Santa's biggest fans. Don't you see??!! By teaching our children about Santa through the lens of God we can teach them about Jesus. Today that hit me like a ton of bricks when God whispered, "Use him, Katie! Teach them by example."

Santa is our example...


We teach our children that even though we do not see Santa he is real. We believe and therefore he is. What do we tell our children about Jesus? We cannot see Jesus but we have confidence through our faith that he is real.

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1

So I know what you are all thinking, but Jesus IS real and Santa isn't, but let me suggest that it will be no harder to explain that Santa is a fictional character that God created to help them better understand and get to know the character of Jesus than it will when you have to explain why some families celebrate Christmas with Santa and others do not. But now if you can use Santa and his best attributes to then more aptly teach about the person of Jesus then why not... deal with teaching them the difference between real and pretend because that is a conversation you're gonna have regardless of whether or not Santa is part of your Christmas traditions.


Santa watches over all of the children, all over the world. He has their names written in a book and he checks whether they have been naughty or nice. Santa must really have a large capacity for love if he cares that much about the children of the world.

Oh but Jesus writes our names in the book of life when we entrust Him with our lives. He watches over us and loves us so very much. In fact, Jesus loves all the children of the world!

"... but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." Luke 10:20


Santa invites children to write him letters, with their thoughts and wishes, with requests for new toys, touting of their good deeds and accomplishments and even apologizing for the bad things they've done. He invites children to sit on his lap, warm and friendly he listens as they spout their deepest desires, encouraging them on towards good behavior and well-being. He doesn't say WOAH, WOAH there, that is too much. We don't tell our children to not ask for exactly what it is they want. We let them ask for the moon...

Oh but Jesus asks the children to come to him. He wants to listen to all of our requests whether founded with good intentions or not. We ask and we receive so many precious blessings, the most sacred and holy gifts. We can ask for the moon and with Jesus He may just choose to give it to us!

"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. " Matthew 19:14


Santa only rewards those that are mostly nice and not mostly naughty. He by the very definition explains what it means to be obedient and that such behavior will be rewarded.

Oh, but Jesus believes in obedience, and so much so that He, in strict obedience to His own father died a most painful death in order than we all might live. So without obedience we could not find salvation. Glory to God for obedience!

"Honor your father and mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you." Deuteronomy 5:16

I pray this scripture over my children every day and I believe that there is nothing more valuable to young children than the principle of obedience and understanding it in relation to the way they are loved by their mothers and fathers. We do as our Fathers and Mothers say because they know best, and know how to protect us, to shepherd us, love us etc.


Santa is all about mystery and wonder. He does the unimaginable. He employs the use of magic and lives in a world that we cannot know but can only dream. How does he do it? Flying all around the world in one night? A gift for every child?

Oh, but to know the ways of God... he is mysterious and creative and wonderful. To define God in black in white is to limit the awesomeness of his power, to squash his infinite wisdom!

"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgements and his paths beyond tracing out!" Romans 11:33

Do you see what I'm seeing? Santa is one of the greatest tools we have to make Jesus a more relatable figure...AND the endless resources we have at our disposal...it's amazing!! Isn't that just like God to take something like Santa in which some might believe is one of Satan's better schemes and make it all the more powerful for the cause of Jesus! He is always one-step ahead, amen?

Okay, so let's talk about Christmas beyond Santa... what about the gift giving... isn't that just crazy? All of the money we spend on gifts, doesn't it seem a bit excessive? Piling up debts just for Christmas?

And while I would wholeheartedly agree that spending should be done well within the means of each family, I would also remind us that if we are celebrating Jesus that what gift would ever be enough? So I think we should all spend a small fortune on each one of our children and our loved ones.


Just wanted to make sure you were awake... I was still stuck on how to make the gift giving piece of Christmas fit into my Santa/Jesus combo loco Christmas plan. So I went back to the first Christmas and learned a bit more about those three wise guys and their gifts. I read several different commentaries on gold, franckincense and myrrh... and ashamedly I realized that I had never really given them much thought before. Turns out, God strikes again and is never short on purpose and thus is so with the gifts that Jesus was given by the three kings. Each gift was symbolic helping to tell the story and life of Jesus. Gold symbolizing him as King, the Alpha and the Omega, Frankincense symbolizing salvation in that it is a fine, white substance taken out of the bark of a particular tree which of course is no coincidence that salvation was also achieved through a tree as Jesus' blood washed us as white as snow. And myrrh symbolizing bitterness and in fact in Arabic means bitter, symbolizing the trials and tribulations of the world, death and sin, the things that Jesus would overcome through his work on the cross. And that was a short and sweet version of what I read... I encourage you to read more... it was fascinating to me!

Okay so gifting with a purpose... gifts that symbolize something... hmmmm....that got me thinking... what if every gift from Santa came with a tag listing a gift of Jesus... for example:

Caden is getting an ATV from Santa (hello Black Friday!) and attached to it might be a tag that reads, "BRAVE" or "ADVENTURE" with a Bible verse to describe how we find our courage in the Lord. Or for the fishing pole he is getting I might attach a tag reading, "SALVATION" and a verse about how God teaches us to be fishers of men, sharing with them the gift of Jesus. Of course these things would need to be age appropriate... so in the same vein I could use the word "LOVE" and write a note about how much God loves us just like Bop loves taking Caden fishing. There are so many fun and creative ways to take your gift giving and bringing it back around to God's most precious gift to us. Go wild!

Giving to those who have fallen on hard times or simply those that have less than you is an important family activity that goes right along with thanksgiving and praise, but I do believe this piece to be a deeply personal act of worship that each family must distinguish on their own. It goes without saying that giving is far better than receiving, no matter the magnitude of your gift.

Other ideas I had today include...

Stockings...what about stockings?

I thought it might be kind of fun to include a birthday candle with a bow tied around it in each stocking for Jesus' birthday cake with a special note from Santa to remember to celebrate Jesus' birth... so many families already celebrate with a Happy Birthday to Jesus cake and this is just one more very deliberate way that Santa and Jesus can partner up to help us acknowledge God's Christmas gift to us.

Oh, don't you see??? Don't you see?? The fictional character of Santa can teach us SO MUCH about the forever character of Jesus!!

Okay I think I'm done... my wheels are taking the stride of a much slower pace now and I feel as if I have done a good thing for my pal Santa and I hope too I have done a good thing for my Jesus!
I just had to do it... to say it... I just had to give Santa one, last fighting chance and all the while giving God the glory!

I'll leave you with this last thought...

You never know when a Santa experience might just give birth to a Savior experience.

Merry Christmas!

1 comment:

Jen and Jed said...

I've seen the articles you're talking about swirling on people's blogs and on FB. Loved reading your heart on this! You have great ideas!