Celebrating Christmas

Whether Santa comes to your house or not, whether you have an Elf that visits or not, whether you read the Bible on Christmas morning or not, cookies for Santa, carrots for reindeer, stockings, or none of the above, let me reassure you, you’re not doing it wrong.

This truth has been a long time coming for me, but I finally got it. Last week, during a wonderful Life Group meeting, we discussed a verse in Colossians that really hit home for me.

Colossians 3:16 NIV: Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.

At first, this comforted the side of me that gets so tired of weird looks when me or the boys say that Santa doesn’t come to our house. I now have a little baby, and every body keeps asking her if she’s ready to see Santa and people just don’t get it. But, it’s not for them to get, it’s my thing. So, I kind of brushed off my feathers and thought “Ha ha! That’s there just for me, I’m not doing it wrong.”

But God wasn’t done with me there. Soon, I got to thinking about the fact that Christmas was never a holiday/celebration that God commanded us to have, and the roots of Christmas really don’t have much to do with Christ. Christmas was the churches attempt to convert a pagan celebration to something more Christian.

Whoa hold up. I’m not saying we should exclude God/Christ from any aspect of our lives. I think every waking moment of our lives should include God. (No, I’m not so great at this. Just follow me around for a day…you’ll see all the moments I don’t include God, or ask for His grace, or show it….)

You cannot add enough Jesus to your Christmas celebration to please God. At least, in my opinion I don’t think you can. I think God is more concerned with our hearts, and our daily lives, than with how many nativity scenes we put up, or how many people we reject or rebuke because they like commercial Christmas more than midnight Mass.

God doesn’t love me more for excluding Santa, and He doesn’t love you more because of your elf, and He doesn’t love us based on the gifts we give or receive, or the money we spend. We aren’t more forgiven or more saved or more ready for Heaven based on one holiday per year.

God sent Jesus, and the work of the cross was His alone. We cannot be more saveable or less saveable or more or less loveable to God. He loved us first. And showing Him honor is a daily process, not something based on one celebration.

So, whether you elf or not, Santa or no, or whatever other variety of traditions you share with your family, you are not doing it wrong.

Merry Christmas!

Blending…

I have the honor and privilege of being part of a blended family, and most days I see a lot of beauty in the ways we all work together, play together and live together. And there is generally an awesome level of respect between my guy and I and the way we handle situations differently with the boys. We know we won’t always agree, but we are able to find compromise and even give up the reins and say “You got this one,” when necessary.

I never put much thought into differing Christmas traditions until the season rolled around, sneaking up on me and catching me by surprise. (How does December do that, anyway?!) The holiday season is something I love, and I think Thanksgiving is my favorite until I break out the nativity scene and Christmas tree, then I think Christmas is my favorite. But I’ve always been a little weird about Christmas.

We don’t do Santa. And the only thing that ever made me kind of wish we did, is the silly little Elf on a Shelf, because that is just one seriously cool idea! Back to a serious note, I have some very strong beliefs and opinions about Christmas celebrations. While I’ve always wanted the boys to have presents, I try to not sell out to the idea of giving them everything they could possibly want each year. I like a modest Christmas, with a few gifts and a lot of celebration. I think the biggest reason I don’t include Santa in our celebrations is because Santa is one of those very first things we ask kids to put their faith in…a sight unseen, full of magic, delivering presents, and that’s a lot of faith in something or someone, for him to not be real.

I’ve always told the boys to respect how other people celebrate Christmas, because I believe in treating others the way we want to be treated. I’ve shared with them stories about St. Nick, and how I believe that that man wanted Jesus to get the credit because Jesus was the reason he was generous.

I have gotten plenty of “you’re crazy” looks, along with opinions that wildly differ and people have even said I take it too far. But, I love our Christmas traditions. I don’t think we are missing anything by not having Santa visit. And yet, I’ve never had to defend my position or find a balance with someone who likes having Santa as part of the tradition.

This is a whole new ball game.

I wondered, for a minute, if we could put a duct tape line down the middle of the house and let Santa visit “that” half of the house and have a Santa-free Christmas on “this” half of the house. But division solves nothing. And what about when this sweet baby girl gets here? Do I get her one year on the non-Santa side, and he gets her one year on the Santa side? It’s kind of a funny thought, and sometimes I laugh at the wild, not so practical ideas I have to solve the dilemma.

But the truth is, at the very heart of this, I am torn, and struggling. I am actually dreading this season more than I care to admit, and it may have less to do with the season and more to do with dreading conflict. For the first time ever, I feel awkward about my position on Christmas, and I am not happy to see the two little guys getting confused over things that I believe so strongly in. But it’s not just about seeing the two littles confusion, I feel like a lump of coal or a gray cloud hanging over the oldest’s idea of Christmas. Who am I to take away from the things he or his daddy love about Christmas? I think, if I could just put this season on pause, and slow down the whirlwind, I would. Because finding common ground between my ideas of a non-consumerist, non-commercialism, non-Santa Christmas, and a very cultural, typical American Christmas feels impossible.

I love blending our family together and I’ve learned so much this year. I respect my guy more now than we first started this journey, and I love our life together. I am beyond thankful for the blessings we have and share, and I know we’ll figure this one out too. I just pray that the kids see bigger lessons than whether or not Santa is real, as we figure this out. I pray they learn something about compromise, about common ground, about respect and how to build a strong family instead of how to tear one down.