Well, first of all, I have to say that I am a little disappointed in the response to the Red Kettle group. No donations and no one joining. I guess I’ll e-mail each one individually and remind you again about it. I would love to see some of the higher-traffic blogs. *sigh*
Why do people get so mad about a little baby who was born in a barn and has a birthday celebration in a country that has his Dad’s name on their money and He can’t be included in the festivities! No matter what your belief system is, if you celebrate Christmas at all, then you have to acknowledge that, for whatever reason, the kid that was born in the barn was some kind of a big deal. Whether you only relegate him to the status of an unusual philosopher or know that the fact is the very Creator of the universe came to earth and dwelt among us as both God and man, how do you dare to think that you can have a parade in his celebration and exclude a float that depicts the circumstances of his birth?
I hadn’t planned on going off on this tangent just yet, but I get really frustrated with our politically correct society. I don’t remember if I ever told you guys this, but I grew up in a religion that doesn’t celebrate any holidays, especially birthdays and Christmas. I can go on and on explaining how the Judean winters are too cold in December and how the yule log and the Christmas tree are pagan symbols and, to hear them tell it, idols. I was 8 years old when I told my 3 year old brother about how we had just learned about all this and that next year we weren’t going to have a Christmas tree and there wasn’t no Santa and all so I suppose that someone will say, and I am somewhat inclined to agree that it is true, that now I overcompensate for that as an adult. I am sure that’s true. I am also sure of a few other things since God saved me.
Here’s the deal. Here is how I have dealt with the subject of Christmas over the years. First of all, ever since I came to Colorado Springs in 1988 and we decided that we were going to get back in church, we have attended regularly and taken our kids, who were 5 and 2 at the time, to Sunday School. Children are best taught by you, by your example, what your religion is all about and how it is lived. This became important in dealing with the “Santa issue.” See, I have always felt that it is wrong for parents to lie to their children, but yet there is something so magical and fun about the whole thing that it is hard not to say something.
What I did about it was what ill-advised people, often without children of their own (The world is full of unmarried marriage counselors, isn’t it?) have said I should do about religion and that is to let them figure it out on their own. I figured it was safer to do that with the Santa Claus sect than with the truth so I decided to let them figure out for themselves what they believed. Over the years I guess that if I taught them anything about him, the teaching would probably be along the same lines as in “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” “Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there.” The CBC interviewed Virginia when she was a 74 year old grandmother. But you see, just because I didn’t teach them about Santa doesn’t mean they didn’t develop their own belief system over time. This was punctuated by their questions to me and my answering as truthfully as I could. As they grew older, it was easier and easier to have conversations like, “How does Santa see you when you’re sleeping?” “Well, is there anybody who knows everything and can see everything that we do?” “God.” “Is Santa Claus God?” “No.” Then I would just leave it sort of up in the air. Later on we would do our nightly Bible reading as a family, which was something we used to try to do all the time, and somehow the topic of omniscience would come up. See, we would read the Bible out loud as a family every evening we could, and talk about what we believed and actively worked on teaching them about that.
So, over time, we learned that it was Jesus’ birthday party and that, while Nicholas had been a nice man that had tried to do some good things, he didn’t die for our sins and heal and save people. Santa became something more of an icon, except…well, strange things still happened. There were years that we had no plans to have Christmas and presents, but somehow, Christmas morning, there they were anyway. One year was truly bleak. We really were not going to have much when, Christmas morning, there was a knock on the door and out front of the house were a couple of cars and a van and a pickup truck and these people, who I had never seen before and have never seen since, started carrying packages and boxes of food and wheeling in bikes and things, and when I asked them who they were and what group sent them, they just said they were some of Santa’s helpers. “Santa sent us.” That was maybe in 1992 or 3, I don’t remember for sure and Margaret is still sleeping. How did these people know our situation? Who had sent them?
That was when my son and I began developing our conspiracy theory that, even though there might not have been a 600 year old man living at the North Pole who could traverse the world faster than Superman, was it not possible that he had some descendant or descendants that thought someone should carry on the good works he had started? Was there a club of some sort that you could become a member of and did it spread all over, networking around the world amongst adults and certain children? Santa could not know everything, but, if your neighbor was one of his helpers, he could report back to Santa or, if your dad was the head of the local secret chapter of the club, he might get the report…Santa’s helpers could be…ANYONE! Man or woman or boy or girl, they might know…
Another thing we did and still do is we take turns going shopping for other people in the family. That way everyone gets to get in on some of the secrets of who’s getting what, and helping make the day special and full of surprises because even to this day there are presents that come that nobody really knows where they came from. Well, almost nobody.
We always have fun at the dollar store, too. When they were young, we would give them money and let them pick things out for siblings, relatives and friends. Some dollar stores offer very nice merchandise for a buck and priceless gifts. My little quasi-nephew, Christopher bought me a Coca-Cola glass last year because he knows I would like that. He got the message of what giving a present to someone is really all about! You know, folks, the American celebration of Christmas is so crassly commercial and out of control that “All I want for Christmas is more, more, more…” isn’t just a novelty song anymore. And while we hear, even on the Christian radio station, songs about Santa and reindeer, let’s try to remember the shivering baby born in a barn.
Remember, the good book says, “I ain’t gettin’ nuttin’ for Christmas, mommy and daddy are mad, I ain’t gettin’ nuttin’ for Christmas, ‘cuz I ain’t been nuttin’ but bad.
I believe the story of Chanukah is true, too, that God kept their lamp burning without oil for 8 days.