I love this time of year.
I love seeing Christmas through a child's eyes. I love finding and trying to figure out the perfect gifts for family, friends, and other loved ones in our lives. I enjoy baking Christmas goodies to share with those around us. I love putting up our Christmas tree and decor - only to take it down a few weeks later.
I love being purposeful with our time as a family - from a pj-and-hot chocolate date to look at Christmas lights to gingerbread house decorating to singing and dancing to Christmas music to making out a Christmas "to-do" list to show others the love of Christ during this holiday season.
But I'd be remiss if I didn't admit that I get a bit nervous this time of year, too, because of the sticky Santa situations.
Before we even became parents, Jack and I decided to let our future children know right away that Santa wasn't real (gasp!), but a fun part of Christmas. The last few years, as Mackie started going to preschool and asking questions, we tried to keep it simple and tell her Santa was like playing dress-up, you know, like Halloween. He was a fun guy dressing up to spread Christmas cheer.
We aren't against Santa - we do like having "fun" with him. But we don't get gifts from him. We don't put out cookies and milk. We don't make lists out to him, nor do we make it a big deal to get our picture taken with him. Sure, the kids will sit on his lap as a part of school festivities or when we go look at Christmas lights. They see him on cartoons and around town and gleefully say, "There's Santa!" Again, we aren't anti-Santa, nor the parents and families that choose to make him a larger part of their Christmas celebrations.
It's all fun and games until our kidlets get asked from random people what Santa is getting them for Christmas. It's an innocent question and no harm in asking.
Usually Mackie - my sweet, independent little miss who has too much of her mama in her - will tell it like it is: "Well, we don't get gifts from Santa because he's not real!" I quickly follow up with a smile and explain that while we have fun with Santa, they get their gifts from parents and grandparents instead.
It (usually) works. But the MOST important part of the conversation is missing: JESUS!!
THAT is the reason we celebrate Christmas. HE is the reason we know that Santa is just fun and not real - because Jesus IS real. In my fear of answering the Santa question, I completely took away the fact of why we celebrate Christmas!
About a week ago I opened up a Facebook dialog on my wall and asked my friends where they stood with Santa. Some do Santa, some choose not to do Santa, some do a combination of Santa and Jesus, defining each to their children. It was a great conversation - probably one of the most respectful conversations I've had in a while on Facebook, where people didn't pass judgment (isn't that how we should act at all times?!)
One statement in particular, though, stood out - and I'm grasping it this Christmas season with our young children: "Santa is fun, Jesus is real."
I love, love, LOVE this! It's simple - simple enough that we can tell our children this and they "get" it. Simple enough to tell others when they ask. But even better? It opens the door for conversation about JESUS!
When the sweet grandma in the grocery store asks my kidlets what they're getting from Santa this year, I can't wait to tell her WHY they're celebrating Christmas. Saying "Santa is fun, Jesus is real" will open up such great dialogue (or so I pray!).
May we share Christ and show His love through our words, actions, and deeds this Christmas season - with our without Santa.