My husband and I have close friends who have completely turned their back on the way that we celebrate Christmas in America. I have no problem with that; besides...we are in America!!! You get to change your mind and speak your peace. That is part of what has made this a great country to live in.
When I think about how we celebrate such a fun Holiday, I do feel that it is overly commercial and that it goes by way too fast. I remember last year, the day after Christmas, a very popular clothing store with purposefully kitschy commercials started advertising Christmas is over so come get these deals or something. I just felt like, "Slow down!!! My kids are still opening presents already!" They weren't, but come on! Really? The very next day you start promoting your Spring collection or whatever it was. O.k. rant over.
I get why people feel that they don't want to put up a tree, don't want to tell their kids about Santa, don't want to buy presents. I get it. But when I think about my childhood Christmases, which included all of the pomp and circumstance with maybe a little less commercialism but not very much, I can't imagine taking those things away from my kids.
So, I have put together a few thoughts on ways to explain some of the things that we do at Christmas time to our kids so that we don't feel like we are lying to them about the true meaning of Christmas and simultaneously not stripping it down to just sitting around the table staring at each other on December 25th. Just kidding...here goes...bear with me please.
Is Santa real?
A friend told me that once your kid is old enough to ask this question, they are old enough to know the truth. Problem with us is, our kid has been asking since she was 4 because a close friend of ours told her kids (who are close friends with our kids) that Santa was not real. Of course she told my kid (with fervor, i might add) and so there we were, faced with ending a harmless holiday tradition or figuring out a way to maintain the excitement of going to bed in anticipation of what might happen during the night while they are asleep.
Well, that didn't happen. What we ended up telling them is that Santa is not real but that we celebrate Christmas with the idea of a Santa because it is fun, and to help us remember the importance of giving to others. So, in our house, we still talk about Santa coming and what will Santa bring, but they are quick to remind me that Santa is just an "idea". LOL!
Why do we give presents?
We've never been asked this because our kids could care less as to "why" they get gifts, just so long as they get them. However, in an attempt to keep our holiday traditions Christ-centered, I told them that on the night that Jesus was born, wise men brought him three precious gifts, so we give gifts to each other to honor that act of love and appreciation that the wise men showed to our Saviour on the night of His birth.
When I told them what the gifts were, they said "myrrh?" "What's myrrh?" And they laughed way too much at how silly they thought the word sounded. SMH
This is a biggie for some of our friends; they read some information on pagan rituals and decided that they couldn't stand to see a Christmas tree in their house ever again. Totally fine. I admire people who are able to change long term habits. I think it is extremely admirable. It's difficult for me to decide to cancel cable and begin to use a streaming service like ROKU because I'm so used to the background noise of the t.v.
With this one, I told our kids that we bring in a tree and put a star at the top because of the bright star that was in the sky on the night of Jesus' birth to guide the wise men to the manger where Jesus was. I told them that it is to remind us of His birth.
The same explanation would work if you place an angel on your tree as it was an angel who announced Jesus' birth.
I believe that it does not matter how you celebrate Christmas, with or without these things. It only matters that in our hearts and actions, we remember why this holiday is on the calendar at all. Had Jesus not been born, we wouldn't even have a Christmas holiday. That along makes it all about Him in my mind.
My husband's grandmother, who is in her late 80's, still to this day gathers her whole family around on Christmas Eve to tell everyone why we celebrate Christmas. I understand that she's been doing this for over 40 years now, and thankfully so, she has passed down her heritage of faith for generations, even to my little girls.
In short, with or without all of the trimmings...Jesus is alive and that's plenty reason to celebrate!