Monday, December 9, 2013
Does Santa Fit into Your Christmas?
Does Santa Fit into Your Christmas? http://goo.gl/5oD6bZ
Santa Claus has become a controversial subject in the scheme of Christmas giving. Some have entirely abolished him from their families’ traditions, which is their right. The main emphasis for Christmas has always been and should always be that the prophets’ words were recognized and fulfilled: Jesus Christ came into the world to save the world from death and sin. Many explanations have been invented to explain how Santa fits into the Christmas Story; and, in many way, he really does not. We should keep our focus on the Savior, the humble birth of the Son of God, and the richness of His story of giving and forgiving; the King of all becoming the servant of all, to show all the road back to His Kingdom.
The main thing to note is that every family is free to create its own traditions. When a son leaves his family and a daughter leaves her family, and the two of them create a new family, they then need to decide what is the proper path for them to take; this applies to all holidays and all parenting choices. There will be a blending of traditions and the creation of new traditions. It’s a beautiful thing, because a new family is created and they set the environment for love and growth, for understanding and discipline. They have the opportunity to set the stage and the rules for their own holidays. In doing so, they can create an environment that is conducive to true discipleship of Jesus Christ and the Spirit of reaching out to others in gift giving and charity, or they can create an environment that perpetuates self-centeredness.
We have done the Santa thing in my family of origin and in the family I created with my husband; but, we never carried it into a perpetual lie. I remember asking my mom, "Santa isn't real, is he?" when I was in Kindergarten or something. She told me that he is just a fun story. (She really had been saying that all along.) We all knew it was just a fun make-believe story. Some parents go overboard to prove he's real; I think that's wrong. Our emphasis should be on teaching that Jesus Christ is real; that the gospel--the good news of Heavenly Father's gift for us is real. In doing so, we emphasize the importance of Jesus Christ in our lives. Christmas has always had its center in Jesus Christ for me.
That being said, I think that the biggest mistake in having all the presents delivered by Santa is that children do not learn to give thanks to those who are actually making sacrifices to give them the presents. They should have the opportunity to thank their parents and family members and to always return thanks to God, who really is the One who gives us everything. We always just had our children's stockings and one or two gifts from Santa. If they woke up earlier, on Christmas day, than the rest of the family, that was all they were allowed to open. Mainly our Christmas giving was from members of the family to each other, and we took turns opening one gift at a time, from the youngest to the oldest. All of our children realized Santa was make-believe because we taught them that was so, but it still was fun to set things out on Christmas Eve and wake up to presents under the tree. It was fun to have older children help set things up for younger ones, too. And it was still fun to set out a plate of cookies for Santa.
(One more thing that was important in our family. We did not ever want to bring commercialism into the Sabbath day, so if Christmas happened to fall on Sunday, the Santa presents arrived a day early. We also did not like to have Easter bunny baskets on Sunday. That was just something we decided would work best for our own family.)
So I don't think Santa is entirely wrong. But I do think that he should be taught to just be a fun story from the very beginning. I think that he should be taught to be one representation of the spirit of giving. One year our family had an especially fun time playing Sub for Santa and delivering surprises to a more needy family than our own for the 12 days leading up to Christmas. That truly brought the Spirit of Christmas into our hearts more than ever. Children need to learn the magic of giving and find joy and glory in that. We shouldn’t allow the Santa that our family perpetuates to teach our children to carry an attitude of indulgence and entitlement which merely focuses on the getting.
If we want to teach our children to have a truly joyous Christmas, we should help them focus on what they can give to one another and to what they can give to others—and these gifts need not, and indeed should not always be, things that can be bought with money. If we focus on the gifts from our Heavenly Father in the Gift of His Son; and if we focus on the many gifts that Jesus has given us as we read about and study His life, we will find that the best gifts that we receive are not monetary, but they are gifts of the heart. Children are great at giving gifts of the heart, and we need to recognize when they give those gifts and encourage them to keep giving gifts of purity.
Giving too much time to the question of yea or nay to Santa also draws attention away from the Savior. So, for me, Christmastime doesn’t really present the question of whether or not to abolish Santa Claus entirely from our family traditions; for me, the questions are, “How can I show my thanks to Heavenly Father for the priceless and endless gift of His Son? How can I live my life to show my appreciation? How can I transform my attitude and my daily life so as to make my life a gift to Them, and so as to be a better example to my children and to others? How can I serve others in meaningful ways to help them feel the Savior’s love in their lives? What is the most important thing that I can do this season to give a gift to Jesus Christ, my Savior? In asking these types of questions, I believe that we can turn our focus to the Savior and have a Christ-centered Christmas that extends beyond our family and that can fill our hearts with the peace of the Savior throughout the New Year.
Merry Christmas to all! (...and to all a good night)!