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Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Santa Post

Ems here--Word on the street is that the debate on "To Do or Not to Do Santa" is all the rage on Facebook ...since this blog is all about being hip to the latest trends, I thought I would toss in my two cents, for what it's worth ( I'm guessing about two cents).

I grew up "on Santa." And I was a true believer, confident in his ability to circumnavigate the globe at record speeds and deposit boatloads of presents beneath every be-sparkled tree.  I was rudely awakened in 4th grade by a fellow student who found it hilarious that I still believed. I promptly went home and told my two younger sisters the horrible truth because misery loves company.

That being said, with my first two children I fully intended to carry on the tradition of Santa Claus. Christmas Eve we put out cookies and milk and I signed "Santa" on several of the packages under the tree. When my two sweet little boys came down the stairs, they were greeted with the glory of Christmas! And the magic of an empty plate! And I was sure our traditions had been initiated...until Nathaniel looked at me with his huge brown eyes (trusting and earnest) and asked, "Did Santa REALLY eat the cookies?!"

I felt this panic rise in my chest. I tried to force the words, "Yes, of course he did!," but I couldn't choke them out.  I literally couldn't tell an outright lie to his face, not when he trusted me with his learning, his beliefs. I managed to change the topic quickly to avoid, but I knew that I would need to find a different way to approach Christmas next year. I just could not tell him--in the same voice-- that guardian angels, the Holy Spirit, and Santa Claus are ALL true. At least, not in the commonly held tradition of a fat man shimmying down the chimney.

Upon reflection, I realized that Santa Claus in the true tradition is, of course, real. He is St. Nicholas, a holy man, a saint in heaven, a pillar of generosity, a beacon of God's love.  So it is with that truth that I came prepared for the following year's Christmas. We talked about how on this most special of holidays, Jesus' birthday, the whole world rejoices. The Lord wants us to share in the joy by giving and receiving St. Nicholas did so long ago. The Santa Claus at the mall, the red-suited figure on the wrapping paper, those are images of St. Nicholas to keep the joy of Christ's birth alive in our hearts.

No chimney. No flying reindeer. No "magic." But there is a manger. And a host of angels. And miracles.

And there are still, as my children will gleefully attest, PRESENTS! 

Now, I truly feel that each family will find their own way to approach Christmas, just as each family has their own special traditions that accompany the holiday. But I will own that this truth-telling approach has been a wonderful thing for our family.

My kids know that when I tell them something, anything, it is the truth. If I don't know the answer to a question, I admit it. If they ask me a question that I am not ready to answer, I simply say, "We'll talk about it when you are older. I'm not ready to discuss it with you now."

It also has helped as the kids have grown and are more into fiction novels and television shows/movies. I can freely tell them that no, magic isn't real--and it's not a conflict of interest with what they believe happens on Christmas Eve. 

On Christmas morning, the children rush downstairs and are allowed to open their stockings. After that flurry of excitement and activity, we eat breakfast and get ready for Mass.  We do not open our presents until Mass is over, as a reminder that it is Jesus' birthday first! The stockings are a nice taste of celebration, but postponing the present opening is a small sacrifice to remember what this day is truly about.

No matter how you approach the season of celebration, I hope you all have a blessed and joyous Christmas, filled with love and family fun! God bless you and yours!

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