St. Nick is Dead!
We had such a fun time on our annual family trip to see Santa at the mall tonight. Am I the only one that truly cherishes fun family outings filled with sweet memories...because most of our family outings turn out to be not as fun or stress-free as I'd imagined? (You know, instead of a calm, sweet time it ends up filled with whining, fighting, or screaming? No? Maybe it's just me, then.) Anyway, this WAS a fun time, with all the kids really excited about Santa and Chick-fil-A. Luke didn't even cry in Santa's lap, thanks to those two trusty fingers he plugs his mouth with in times of distress or tiredness. And we all laughed when Jack had "a super-real itch on my bottom and I can't reach it!!" in his car seat on the way home. Fun times.
There's one thing that's a little silly about this particular outing, however. You see, we made the decision this year to tell the kids the whole truth and nothing but the truth about Santa Claus. I know some of you have always done this with your kids, while others think we're being ridiculous and a bit of a humbug by "killing the magic" of Christmas. In years past (well, several years past), I saw nothing wrong with "doing Santa Claus." I mean, that's how I was brought up and it didn't hurt me any, right? But I started feeling convicted about it a few years ago.
I always assumed parents chose not to teach their kids that Santa was real because it detracted from Jesus at Christmas. I didn't really see that as a big problem, but Chris and I have always wanted to emphasize Jesus MUCH more than Santa. So, we just didn't really talk about Santa with the kids. They heard it from other places and we just avoided their questions with questions directed back at them. "I don't know, what do you think?" But later on, it became more of an issue of truth versus deceit. When one of my children would lie to me - or tell a "half-truth" - I would get in their face and tell them that they are to ALWAYS tell the truth. I said over and over again how God loves truth and hates lies and we were never to lie to anyone under any circumstances. And as I would say this to them, the Holy Spirit, in His quiet yet annoyingly persistent way, would whisper, "Are you being completely truthful with your children?" So, it was this issue that finally did us in.
I did not want to tell my kids how God is real, even though they can't see Him, and that He knows everything about them and then turn around and say the same thing about Santa Claus. For the record, I personally did not ever have doubts about the reality of God based on the fact that I believed that Santa was real for the first several years of my life. However, I did not want that to be even a possibility for my children. Mainly, we just want to be truthful with them so they never have any reason to doubt what we tell them.
There are other issues that play into this with us as well...namely, the whole "you better watch out" mentality of earning your gifts by good deeds. That's not the way God works at all. Our salvation and our blessings are by God's grace alone, and I don't want to be manipulating my children into obedience. I want to lay all choices before them, with the consequences before them as well, but I want them to always be aware and appreciative of grace. I could go on, but you get the point.
So, at the beginning of the Christmas season, we killed St. Nick. Well, we actually shared the story of the real St. Nicholas and how he was motivated to give by God's gift to him, as we all should be. We tried to gently lay out the truth, while still preserving the specialness of Christmas and the wonder of Christ's birth. Maddie quietly contemplated it all, while Jack was too busy talking to listen...as usual. So, it seemed they took the news well. The next morning, Jack got out of bed, walked to the living room, looked up at the stockings on the fireplace, and said, "I wonder what Santa will put in my stocking this year." Evidently, we have some work to do. :)
So, back to our annual family outing to see Santa...just because we don't believe he's real (well, all of us but Jack), that doesn't stop us from enjoying all the special things of the season. And it leaves us to concentrate on the true meaning of it all. God in the flesh. I don't know about you, but I think that's much more amazing than a jolly old man with a sleigh full of presents any day.