My perspective on Christmas changed over twenty years ago, when my son was three. I had worked hard to find the perfect gift and was more excited than a kid in a candy store. My husband even had to hold me back from giving the gift early. I imagined my son’s squeals of delight when he came into the room on Christmas morning to see what wonderful treasure I had found.
I was all ready to capture the moment on my camera. His wonder and delight did not disappoint. Until he screamed. “Santa gives the best gifts!” What!? No … stop the music!!! NOT Santa, MOMMY! Mommy is the best gift giver I silently screamed. My heart shattered, tears, and sadness clouded my vision in that moment.
You need to understand: Gifts – are my jam, they’re my love language. Not just because I want gifts, but because I love giving them. It brings me much joy seeing the pure delight on a person’s face when they open the special gift I found just for them.
Traditions are a funny thing; we all have them and pass them down to our children and hope they do the same with theirs. However, we never quite think about what happens with traditions when we blend families with different ones. You see, in my husband’s family, they always set out an unwrapped gift on Christmas morning that was a gift from Santa. In my family, there were wrapped gifts and stockings attributed to Santa. My sister and I knew it wasn’t Santa, but we let my parents do their thing; it was the traditions they had carried over from their childhood into our family.
My husband and I were raised in church, so we knew ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’, not Santa. However, the traditions and memories we have as children simply carried forward.
Everything changed that Christmas, albeit at first for the wrong reasons. My heart hurt because Santa got credit for something I had done. I wanted my son to love ME for the gift I had given him, not Santa. I wanted the credit, not Santa. Truth be told I was being selfish. I should have been more upset that my son wasn’t thanking God for the gift of His son Jesus. God truly is the best gift giver.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son… (John 3:16 NIV).
That year, everything changed. Santa was no longer going to be the focus for Christmas, and he wasn’t going to get credit for anything else. I mentioned it to my sister-in-law who pointed me toward a great Christian resource about celebrating different holiday traditions with Christian beliefs and values at the center.
From then on, we shared the truth of Santa and Jesus with our kids. The very next year, we started celebrating Advent and focusing on the importance of Jesus, His birth, and the events that surrounded it. We also told them about a man named Nicholas, who later became known as Santa. A man who had a love for God and exhibited generosity towards people. We taught our children to be sensitive to the traditions of other families during the holiday seasons, and yet, we still had fun celebrating in our own way as we kept the focus on Jesus. To this day, our family celebrates St. Nick Day in early December. Stockings are filled with our family’s traditional items, and we honor a man who followed in the footsteps of Jesus and gave sacrificially to others. For this gift giver, it’s a win-win. Gifts early in December and gifts again on Christmas. Though my kids are grown, we still make every effort to celebrate this fun advent tradition as a family. We incorporated other traditions in the spirit of giving and blessing others; just as Nicholas did when he pointed people to Jesus. God is the original gift giver and His son Jesus is the reason for the Christmas season.
…but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23b NIV).
I would love for you to share with me in the comments below about what some of your favorite holiday traditions are.
May you enjoy this wonder and awe of the Christmas season. May we all turn our hearts and focus upon the wonderful gift God sent in the form of His son, Jesus.
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