Sisters wrapping our own favorite toys in shirts and night gowns to put under the tree because there was nothing under the tree that year and Santa wasn't coming. But we had each other and we had Jesus, and still do.
Yet, we were kids - mere children - and we felt the weight of the world that year, and learned early on that Christmas was not about the luxuries, but about being together and giving of ourselves.
It was in those tough times that the gift of Jesus was made most real to us.
And I want my children to know Jesus more than anything in this world. But I also want them to experience the joys of childhood; the excitement of the unknown, the mystery of Santa Claus. Yes! We do that here. I enjoy my children using their imaginations, believing in possibilities and impossibilities. A luxury that doesn't define Christmas for us, but one we delight in giving.
Is it a lie? Will they think Jesus a lie, too?
To the contrary, I believe that when our children figure out that Santa Claus does not really ride through the sky and swoosh down chimney's, that they will understand that Santa may not be the real mystery but in the same way they put a child's faith in the unseen with Santa Claus, they can put their faith in the unseen King of kings. and He will be seen on a cloud in the sky and He is miraculously right here with us.
How do I know they'll believe that Jesus is real after the bomb of Santa Claus is dropped (I hear it is much more subtle than that)? Because we live it every day in this house. And I believe they know from the very depths of their being what and who is real even at their ripe, young age. Especially at their ripe, young age.
And maybe that is why it is not such a let down when they are old enough to know Santa is not real. Maybe somewhere deep they've always known or at least longer than they have wanted to admit.
And so, yes, we do Santa Claus here. But, we do Jesus bigger. We work harder to remember He is the reason for the season and it really is his birthday we are celebrating. And we talk about why we give gifts - because Jesus gave us the greatest gift of all. And just like we give others wrapped presents, we can give others Jesus, too.
We talk about St. Nicholas and how Santa has evolved from this real man who lived a life of serving Christ by looking after the children and giving to the needy.
And right now, we have a tree full of wrapped presents underneath. Nothing yet that we have bought, but rather our children's own things that they have wrapped for each other. Because, yes, they like to see gifts under the tree. But, also because they, too, know the joy of giving.
And we understand that there are needy in this world, and that Santa may not be able to reach those who are the very most in need. And we try to do our part by giving to a family. And we pray for those who do not have the luxury of simple childhood joys. And we realize this all just points right back to Christ anyway because without him, in spite of all of the gifts we receive under the tree, we really have nothing and in him we actually have everything.
continuing to count gifts of gratitude...
these times where money has no measure
finding the joy in giving
completing Christmas shopping
a game of Sorry with the 5 and 7 year-old
our Jesse Tree devotions
early morning couch time
creating the opportunities to listen to hearts speak
chaos...this...and finding peace in the moments
Working my way to 1000 gifts of gratitude and beyond and sharing with A Holy Experience, Finding Heaven, On, In and Around Mondays, and At The Wellspring