Monday, December 19, 2011

Jesus vs. Santa? We Choose Both.

Christmas! Christmas! Christmas! I love Christmas, all of it. I love the Baby Jesus part of it and I love the buying presents part of it. We didn't have that much money to spend on gifts, but if I had more, I’d spend more. Hear that? More presents! (I have toddlers! And toys are fun!)

I don’t believe that Jesus and presents for my babies are mutually exclusive. There’s this new equation going around that (starts to sound like it) says, “take how much you think you love Jesus, subtract the number of Christmas presents that you buy, and that is how much you actually love Jesus, if and only if you can somehow relate the presents that you buy to the gifts of the Magi, then you can add back one love point”.

Now, I understand that people are doing what’s right for their family, just like I’m doing what’s right for my family.  And believe me when I say that I realize sometimes how the massive amount of things can sometimes cloud what the true meaning of the season.  We've even tossed the idea around of trading the materialism in for more traditional ways to celebrate in the upcoming years.  But this year, we still believe in Santa.  Yet the judgements insue.  It's just this vibe that I get from time to time. I  judge myself sometimes.  Because hey, I want my kids to love Jesus and to not be materialistic little snots. (There are actually very few people who do want their children to materialistic little snots, by the way.)

So I was thinking about all this this year and I’ve come to a conclusion. I will teach my children that Jesus is the best gift the world has ever been given, that He was born to die for their (and everyone’s) sins, and that they (and everyone) can be saved by accepting the gift of Himself that He gave to those He loved: them (and everyone). I will teach them that we take this time to be thankful and pay special notice to the love, peace, joy, and selflessness already in the world and that they can give give to the world.

I will show them we can partake in all those things and still buy presents for each other. I will show them how to delight in thinking about their siblings and buying them something “perfect”. I will savor their joy at receiving good gifts that they haven’t earned that are given out of love with no restrictions.

This year we’re going to have a Christmas season that is filled with family, fun, gift giving and receiving, the Truth of the birth of Jesus, fairy tales about Santa and flying reindeer, service projects, and a mischevious little Elf named Elvis. . .

…and let’s be honest: temper tantrums, lost patience, crying, gallons of hot cocoa, anxiety about the whole season, and hey, the one morning a year that I won’t mind a ridiculously early wake up call.

So, yes, I’m shooting for the best of both worlds here, and yes, of course, “Jesus is the reason for the season”, so if it comes down to a smack-down between Jesus and Santa I know which side I’ll be cheering for, but really, I think we can avoid that. And no, I don’t want a figurine of Santa kneeling in front of the manger, but thanks for asking.

To guide me through this cosmic balancing act I’ve bought lots of children's books on the nativity as well as our beloved "Elf on a Shelf" (who's been at it all December, I might add!) . I’m going to be using them to set up some new traditions, hone some old ones, and peacefully juggle jingle bells from now to New Year’s.  So Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, friends! Enjoy a little (spiked) eggnog and Christmas carols.  And remember to invite Jesus to your Christmas, in whatever way means the most to you.  He truly is the reason for the season.


  1. I'm glad you've reconciled this - my grandma, the most devoutly-Baptist-Bible-believing-non-drinkin-non-smokin-dress-wearin woman LOVED Jesus. She also loved getting us fake fish that sing Christmas Carols, or stuffed animals that said goofy things and lit up - she gave tacky, consumer-culture gifts with such great joy and love and honestly I treasure them as much as any handmade sweater or plate of cookies or donation in my name to fight hunger in India or whatever else. Those gifts were so thoroughly HER in a nutshell.

    That is what is uncomfortable to me about this whole new phenomenon of pious gifting. It seems whatever you give, the only thing that matters is the spirit with which it is given. And whatever you receive, the same is true. And just like Jesus, is any gift from us ever really good enough? Is anything really going to be good enough to say "I love you mom for raising me so well?" or "I love you co-worker for putting up with me listening to my voice mails on speaker phone all year long?" Especially if you'll be sipping a Starbucks drink in your SUV on your way to deliver said pious gift...or while you drive to your retreat in the mountains abstaining from the gifting all together. Anyway, I liked this post a lot.

  2. Love it! Amazingly, we played Santa growing up, while my dad was a pastor, and somehow we are all still Christians. :p People have lost the "live and let live" spirit.

  3. Thanks for commenting guys! I was afraid with all the "new age of Christmas Christianity" going around, this post might make those that don't do Santa or gifts pissed. But I just had to get it out there that we all have the right to celebrate and the only thing that matters is that our hearts are in the right place.

  4. “take how much you think you love Jesus, subtract the number of Christmas presents that you buy, and that is how much you actually love Jesus, if and only if you can somehow relate the presents that you buy to the gifts of the Magi, then you can add back one love point”. Loved this quote..and by the way I also had a post with the same title last week...I promise I didn't steal it...I wrote the post 2 weeks ago. I guess great minds think alike. :)

  5. I noticed that Chris! Haha! Our photos even resembled each other! Great minds.... :)