Jase and I have been struggling with the holidays for the last few years. At a religious level, a moral “why are we lying to our kids” level, at a “I wish this was simple” level, at a “all these messages are so confusing” level. Just struggling. I do a dance with those emotions and the guilt that comes with tearing the concept of Santa away from them and stealing the “magic” that society says we should create for them and marvel over. I keep thinking, there must be a better balance than what we have now, more meaning, less stuff. But what type of magic do I want for their little lives? The magic of knowing the gift of God’s love for them? Or the magic of a ficticous man breaking in to our homes and using the concept to lie to our kids and trick them in to behaving for a month? But it’s not that easy, is it? Or maybe it is. Mom guilt is so hard to navigate. Yes, we are aiming for a much more simple holiday this year. We are moving forward with the 4 gifts per person concept (want, need, wear, read). The other day Jase asked Taryn what we should get Ty. Her answer was “He’s grumpy all the time, let’s give him some loooooooove.” What a great, simple, real, answer.
If you have a few minutes, this post pretty much sums up how I feel about this subject. So much to think about, so much we could be doing better within our own family. I don’t know the answer, I don’t know exactly what our path will be this year, next year, but we are making changes and conscious choices for our family. Seriously, click on that link, it is worth it.
And my next thought, if we give up Santa, what about BOB!? We’ll go down that road when we get to it I suppose. We’ve already given up the “Bob is watching you and reporting to Santa” gig. We’re just having our fun little elf move each day. I’m ok with that for now. In the meantime, you can find some highly entertaining and highly inappropriate elf on a shelf photos (and a contest) over on my friend Jill’s blog at babierabies.com. Be warned, Bob’s buddies have been very, very bad elves.
Does anyone else feel this internal struggle this time of year? It’s hard, because my business is so busy, it’s hard to just find the time to simplify. But I really, really want to.
ps – I wrote this several days ago and forgot to hit publish. Since then, we’ve decided we will have less focus on santa, we’ve removed most santa items from the house and we will transition over the next year to a santa free Christmas next year. Teagan sat on santa’s lap at school and that’s ok. Taryn has always hated going to the mall santa, so we will just skip it this year. To help transition through the changes and answer some of the confusing questions about what Christmas is all about and why we do the things that we do (stockings, trees, etc.) I bought this DVD. I feel good about the direction we are heading. A simple, honest, focused direction.
Thanks so much for sharing the link from Jen Hatmaker. Good stuff.
Thank you for your honesty. Im feeling it….more than EVER! We made some poor decisions this year and our house feels like santas workshop has overfilled into my livingroom. Im stressed, my house does not feel peaceful. We have lost focus on what Christmas is this year. I’ve talked to the kids and let them know that this has been a huge mistake on my part this year and next we r going back to simple. One idea I have heard is doing three gifts; its what baby Jesus received. Im really appreciating hearing your thoughts on this, its speaking to me.
Well said!! Thank you for sharing!
I LOVE Santa, but dislike the focus and really dislike movies where Santa “saves” Christmas. Santa also only brings 3 gifts for each boy since that is what baby Jesus receive. And we make sure our boys know that.
A few years back a guy named Tom Roberts spoke at my MOPS group and read us the book he wrote “Santa’s Prayer” I can’t read it with out crying. It is by far, my favorite Christmas book EVER. (His other two books, Twas the Night Before Christ and The Little Lost Sock are also great) You can find it here: http://santasprayer.org/author-illustrator/
It really helped me with my Santa struggle. I’m wanting to quote the entire book now, but in a nut shell, two kids follow Santa in to a church on Christmas Eve and over hear Santa praying for the children that they remember the true meaning of Christmas, be thankful and not greedy.
I’ve followed your blog for some time now, and have loved so much of what you share. This balance of Christ-centered Christmas and Santa is an interesting one. I think there is a place for Santa, especially when we focus on his giving/loving personality. Here are some things we’ve done this Christmas that include Santa and the Savior:
Speaking from experience, I never knew “Santa.” My parents told us the truth from the get go and the true meaning of Christmas. But I wish I had believed in Santa. And we were those kids telling other kids there was no Santa. I think we did that probably because we felt left out. However, we did enjoy Santa and non-Santa Christmas movies with my parents. Also my parents never banned Santa from our house. We just knew he wasn’t real. Now that I have kids, we let them believe in Santa plus the true meaning of Christmas. They receive a gift from Santa and the rest of the gifts are from us. I do this because I know their belief in Santa is fleeting. I also think its fun and magical.
You have a beautiful blog and a wonderful family! I just felt compelled to comment because I do believe that Santa and God can both be a huge part of a child’s Christmas. In fact, my kids believe that Santa and God are next-door neighbors who regularly get together to discuss good behavior over coffee. The belief in God’s magic will hopefully carry them through their lives, but the Santa magic is fleeting. Flying reindeer, watchful elves, half-eaten cookies and milk…it was a joyous part of my childhood and I can’t imagine not celebrating the same magic with my own children. Simplify – absolutely. No child needs a truckload of gifts. But to have a heart that is pure and a belief that one man can deliver presents around the world in one night…well, that is something that I could never willingly take away from them. I wish you luck in your decision.
i am already struggling with this!! good post!
We didn’t let our kids believe Santa was real from the beginning. We treat him and his legend/story the same way we do with super heroes, and other characters. We read and watch the stories, create stories, and other things using the character. It has allowed us to have fun with it, without other issues that can arise — and for me that fun seems to be the point. There is enough “magic” in the world without having to truly believe in a present-wielding fatman. 🙂 My childhood Christmas wasn’t Santa-centric, and I was never taught he was real either. I don’t feel it left anything out of my childhood, and I don’t think our kids are missing anything because of it.
Lynds, I am so glad you posted this. My husband and I just had this talk the other day. And, while we did buy a bit more for the kids this year than planned, but we had some reasons for it, we do struggle with the lack of peace this holiday season brings this year. I never really picked up on it until I had kids. I love the idea of phasing Santa out of your Christmas holiday. I actually emailed my husband with the link to your post and Jen’s. We will be working on this for sure. Also, I hate the idea that gifts and spending so much money at this time of year brings joy to everyone. It couldn’t be further from the truth. I am a police officer in a high povery area and I can say for sure, not everyone feels the joy at Christmas. For many, it really hurts because they are taught and expected to give, but just can’t and lit leaves them feeling stressed, inadequate, etc. I love the ideas you have about making Christmas more meaningful. Thanks for sharing and Happy Holidays to you and your beautiful family!
Excellent post!! I grew up doing Santa and was really fine with the idea of doing it for our kids. My husband on the other hand…was not. His family did a little Christmas decorating, but no tree, no stockings, and no Santa. It was quite hard for me to adjust and we made some compromises. We do stockings, but fill them for each other and we have a tree, but Santa got kicked out. 🙂 And I’m finally getting used to it. I actually don’t really mind at all anymore. I DO want our focus to be 100% on Jesus and now that I have a 2 1/2 year old this year, I’m so glad we’re not doing Santa. I feel like it would only confuse her about what the real meaning of Christmas is. Yes, it would be fun, yes, it would be magical, but all I really want is for her to learn about Jesus and the wonder of His love for her.
Last Christmas, I wrote a blog series called 31 Days to Christmas and each day, I focused on a different part of Christmas (tree, nativity, Mary, wreaths, etc.). It was really good for me to think about each of those things and now this year, I’m going through it at a much more basic level with my daughter because I want her to begin learning all those things now. Here’s the link to the list of days if you’re interested. http://candleinthenightblog.blogspot.com/2011/11/31-days-to-christmas.html
Thanks so much for sharing!