Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Happy St Nicholas Day

Traditions are what make holidays special. Things like baking coconut macaroons with my mom. I can only remember making them for Christmas, And each year I looked forward to it. Now that I have a young and growing family, creating Christmas traditions for our family has become important. You can see my post from last year some of the traditions we have started. The kids love “doing Advent.” Actually they love blowing out the candles at the end of the Bible reading, singing and prayer time. Josiah makes me smile as he asks to sing Go Tell it on a Mountain every night, multiple times. He LOVES that song!

In starting traditions, We want to be very purposeful about what we are teaching our children. We do not want to just go along with what culture or tradition tells us. It’s hard to raise our children outside of cultural norm. To be that family. Much thought and prayer have gone into these decisions. Our biggest desire is for our children to know Jesus through a personal relationship. We want them to celebrate His birth at Christmas. There is no need to teach them to be selfish wanting gifts and things, it comes naturally. It’s our sin nature. And selfishness is not just a toddler issue. I know many adults, (myself included) that struggle with selfishness daily.

We are training them to be other focused, not self focused, especially during this season. What we hope to get across to our children during this Christmas Holiday is to love and serve others, as Christ has loved us. At 4, and almost 3, Eden and Josiah are just beginning to understand most of what we're trying to teach. We believe that the Word will not return void. Little minds absorb so much. Only God knows what Truths are being planted in their hearts each day we sing Christmas carols and talk about Jesus' birth and death.

Just today, Eden was talking about communion, and how some red dots reminded her of the blood of Christ. She said, “You know Mom, Jesus, Jesus Christ. He died on the cross. And you drink the cup to remember his blood” Wow! At 4 she is already putting this all together. I’m so excited for my little girl!

So how do we teach our children that great work on the cross started in a manger? And what do we do with Santa? Larry and I have decided not to have Santa be a part of our children's Christmas tradition. That's not an easy task! People often ask our children what Santa's going to bring them or if they have been naughty or nice. Santa is in all the stores, he even comes to the Christmas party for our church. He's everywhere this time of year.

The kids have been easily distracted from Santa, until last night. Santa comes to our church’s Christmas party. I talked to Eden about it before we left home and told her that Santa would be there, but that we were not going to talk with him. She seemed ok with it until we were at the farmers market and all the other children went to sit on Santa’s lap. She asked if she could go and kept asking, “but why Mommy?” It wasn’t a disrespectful why, it was a why am I different why. Man that was a hard moment for me as a mother. It was hard to think how I could explain it so that my 4 year old could understand it. I was well aware that I was around others and didn’t want to come across as a super spiritual or judgmental of other families enjoying this tradition. I took Eden to the other side of the building and joined a group of ladies. We talked and she enjoyed the attention, soon forgetting that Santa was there.

So when people ask Santa questions, I am the one to answer that Santa is not part of the way we celebrate Christmas. Most people just look at us strangely, others don't know what to say and it leads to a moment of uncomfortable silence. A few people have encouraged us and said we were doing well to teach our children the real meaning of Christmas. My hope is that I can be a good example when responding to people's questions and that Eden and Josiah will learn from that how to respond with kindness and Truth to people's questions.

There are many reasons why we have come to this decision. I know there are extremes to this position. Please keep in mind, we're not trying to kill Santa, and No we do not believe that Santa is an acronym for Satan. Larry and I feel that legalism fuels most of that thinking. We don't think we're better Christians or more holy than families that do have Santa in their family traditions. If you want to leave foot prints in your carpet and cookies out for Santa and carrots for the reindeer, that great for your family. We’re not judging you, please don’t judge us! We desire to have hearts that seek God and want our children to enjoy the holiday without the commercialized aspects that our society places upon it. We want Christmas to be about Jesus and His humble birth. And we always want to keep in mind the Cross behind the stable.

Last year, we decided we would celebrate St Nicholas Day on Dec 6th.  Here is a neat website a friend posted on Facebook on the real St. Nicholas with activity sheets for children.  Do yourself a favor and do a  little research on St Nick. I loved this article from Cyberbrethren.com. St Nick was a feisty Christian. He was a man of conviction who was one of the writers of the Nicene Creed. We  don't want the commercialized Santa in our home. But the heretic slapping, children loving Bishop, St. Nick,.... I hope my children love him :)


Kelly @ In Everything said...

I think the library also has a book or two about St Nicholas that we have enjoyed before.

And we are right there with the not celebrating Santa at Christmas. Since they know the tradition of St Nicholas... we say that people have created a story about him and do the Santa "game".

My kids have always been ok with it. But this year at 7 yrs Anna is trying to figure out again, why Santa doesn't come to our house! That's when I was thankful for the early foundation we try to lay. And that our time "preparing for Christmas" involves reading BIble verses and Biblical hymns/songs!

Steven and Candi Manning said...

I think this is great Angela. Steven and I are wrestling with the Santa stuff now. I read a post recently on Noel Piper's blog that explained how I'm feeling about things perfectly, it all goes along with your focus. It's so hard to be different in this culture.