Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Preserving Christmas

Until a few days ago, my son didn't know about Santa Claus.

But in the last week, we've had several interactions with folks who have asked my son a question that I never expected to hear so frequently.

"What's Santa going to bring you?"

I never ever ever thought this would be such a tough question for me. When the clerk at the grocery store or a friend at lunch asks my son about Santa, he stares at them blankly until I pipe in and save face. More for their sake than my son's.

And because my son is perceptive, he now knows that when someone asks about Santa the answer is Yes Ma'am! and PRESENTS!

Isn't it fascinating that of ALL the questions one could ask a child during this season, the ones so often asked are, "Will Santa visit your house this year?" and "What's Santa going to bring you?"

Not, "What are you doing to celebrate Jesus' birthday?" Because that's the question that I want to hear my son answer. And at 2 1/2 years old, my son UNDERSTANDS birthday. He can sing Happy Birthday and tell you about presents and games and he most definitely can tell you about cake. Henry LOVES birthdays.

So whether or not I want my son to know Santa, he's going to know Santa. It's the American way, for goodness sake. And because it frightens me that at such a young age my son is already making the connection between Santa and Christmas and presents, I am trying my darnedest to preserve CHRISTmas. (For the record, we have every intention of practicing Santa. But my prayer is that Santa will never trump Jesus. A girl can pray.)

Here are a few things that my family is doing to keep Christ in Christmas:
  1. Jesse Tree. I LOVE this advent tradition because of its emphasis on Jesus and because it doesn't involve picking candies out of a cardboard display. If you don't know Jesse Tree, I encourage you to learn about it. This is quickly becoming my favorite tradition of all time.
  2. Service. This year we are serving as a family alongside The Manger. It's a great fit for us because our children can participate. I think service is important year-round, but it seems that there are more family-wide opportunities available during the holidays.
  3. Family. Although our children are young, it is important that we spend the evening together - as a family - decorating the house for Christmas. This year, our son put the star on the tree and our daughter danced to carols as we decorated. We created a memory that is a fantastic reminder of Christmas' true meaning - a celebration for Jesus.
  4. Give. Rather than focusing on gifts for those who have excess, we are shifting our priorities. At the top of that list: giving to those who truly need. My friend Marla introduced me to giving opportunities through Samaritan's Purse and Gospel for Asia's. I love these opportunities for many reasons, and it's especially neat to look through the catalogs with Henry as he excitedly identifies the many animals available for gifting. This type of giving engages our children and allows us to have a hand in making a difference in another family's life.
  5. Fast. Why wait until Lent to practice fasting? In an effort to focus on the holiness of this season, I am praying about what is in my best interest to go without. Fasting is such a challenge for me. I always gain a heightened awareness of my awful selfishness leaving me humbly on my knees.
Those are only a few of the things that we are doing this year. What about you? How is your family preserving Christmas?


  1. I love this, Ali. We're going to do the Jesse Tree for the first time this year, and I'm already behind! Love you.

  2. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
    I have been struggling since early Novemeber (yes November!) with family members asking Emma for a list of what she wants, going through toy catalogs with her, etc. No mention of Thanksgiving, nor the real reason of the December season. Breaks my heart that adults can't see the "values" they are setting in children with simple questions.
    Thank you. Thank you for making me feel not so lonely in this part of parenting!

    PS - Hobby Lobby has some fantastic Happy Birthday Jesus decorations! And I am a HUGE fan of the children's book "lama lama stop all the holiday drama!" :)

  3. I love this idea .... why are you hating on chocolate that comes outta cardboard????? YUM

    P.S. you should check out halmarks new ornament with mary, joseph, and Jesus in the manager. You turn the bottom everyday and it tells the story of Jesus day by day. We are loving it here.

  4. Jill - I will be making a trip to Hobby Lobby this week! And thank you for the book recommendation. I'm adding it to my wish list :)

    Jackie - I LOVE chocolate that can be found in cardboard displays. I'm highly considering buying a cardboard w/candy advent calendar for my own consumption only! And love the Hallmark ornament - I might have to buy that one.